As Shang-Chi’s unhappy family reunion reaches a fiery climax, the Marvel martial artist faces the dark toll of his undead curse.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Shang-Chi #5, by Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Philip Tan, Sebastian Cheng and VC’s Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Shang-Chi is a martial arts superhero capable of superhuman feats after enduring years of intense training, largely under the tutelage of his villainous father Zheng Zhu. And while all of this has made Shang-Chi the undisputed Master of Kung Fu in the Marvel Universe, he still hasn’t quite been able to shake the traumatic ghost of his father — sometimes literally! As Shang-Chi takes on a very different antagonistic family member in his long-lost sister Shi-Hua, he finds a way to purge himself both of Zheng Zhu’s specter and a deadly curse that had been gradually transforming him into one of the undead.
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As children, Shang-Chi and Shi-Hua had been quite close growing up in together in one of Zheng Zhu’s secret compounds for his vast, criminal empire. Bonding over crystal cakes, the two siblings kept each other safe from their cruel father until Zheng Zhu claimed to kill Shi-Hua for her insubordination, secretly raising her to kill Shang-Chi should the need arise. Reunited decades later after the death of Zheng Zhu, Shi-Hua played on Shang-Chi’s sentiments to lure him in with his guard down and infect with him a curse to transform into a jiangshi, a Chinese form of zombie. Resisting Shi-Hua’s mental control as the infection spread, Shang-Chi was haunted by visions of his dead father before learning the two occurrences may be more linked than he originally realized.
Leading her army of jiangshi around the world to strike rival clans and consolidate her power as the new leader of the Five Weapons Society, Shi-Hua’s rampage takes her to the streets of London. Despite nearly being overtaken by the undead curse consuming his body, Shang-Chi leads his less villainous siblings to confront her only for Shi-Hua to implant a microchip in his forehead in a bid to take over him once and for all. Shang-Chi discovers that Shi-Hua programmed microchips with her own unresolved rage over Zheng Zhu to imbue the jiangshi with the anger to help her gain control of them. Shang-Chi ventures deep into the microchip’s programming to confront this vision of Zheng Zhu head-on.
Discovering that Zheng Zhu raised Shi-Hua in isolation in Russia, steadily turning her against her siblings to gain her father’s love, Shang-Chi finds that the vision of Zheng Zhu within the microchip is a very real threat. Battling the vision of his father, Shang-Chi is able to purge him from the microchip’s programming, discovering upon regaining his senses in the real world, that rendering the chip inert has also cured him of his jiangshi curse. While Shi-Hua remains vengeful over this and escapes to fight another day, Shang-Chi is no longer cursed with an undead existence and London is saved.
Shi-Hua is defeated and Zheng Zhu’s dark influence over her and Shang-Chi is apparently dispelled for good. And while Shi-Hua may menace the martial arts hero and her siblings in the future, Shang-Chi now shares leadership of the Five Weapons Society with his remaining, heroic siblings as a way to turn what Zheng Zhu and his brother Zheng Yi built centuries ago towards the forces of good.
With the one thing Shang-Chi wanted all along in finally being free of his father’s shadow finally having come to pass, the future is looking bright for the Marvel Master of Kung Fu.
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