DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU #1 (OF 4)
MIKE BENSON (WRITER) • TAN ENG HUAT (ARTIST)
Cover by DAVE JOHNSON
MURDER! MYSTERY! MARTIAL ARTS!
A former lover of Shang-Chi’s is murdered in cold blood while working deep undercover for MI-6. When Shang-Chi travels to England to pay his respects he learns all is not as it seems, and if he’s not careful he may be next to die! Old friends, new enemies, espionage and kung fu collide in this riveting story from Mike Benson and Tan Eng Huat!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
Anyone who has enjoyed one of those old kung-fu theater type movies on a rainy, boring weekend afternoon understands the appeal of a book like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Those over-the-top action adventure stories, full of drama, starring heroes who hold honor above all else, and epic fight scenes echoing with fisticuffs sound effects. Yeah, those were awesome movies. But Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1 just didn’t live up to that expectation.
Shang-Chi is the Avenger’s karate master, and he is perfect for this title. He’s driven by honor, his Asian roots work well for the story being told, and his past dealings with MI:6 and The Avengers are great fodder to tell good stories. I was looking for specific things from this issue – a heavy does of honor, a good old-fashioned revenge story a la those old movies, and, of course, over the top fighting – and I got most of that. The first few pages depicting Shang-Chi in pursuit of an escaped Crossbones was full of great action, albeit an unoriginal premise, and there’s a great deal of attention spent on showing Shang-Chi as an honorable guy looking to right a wrong. Writer Mike Benson shines in a number of spots, including a nice, silent two-page series, and you can tell that Benson’s got big plans for the rest of this 4 issue mini. Artist Tan Eng Huat’s action sequences are top-notch, and it’s that pacing in the panels that truly drives the issue along.
While Benson’s old-school martial arts tale is quite good, I really wanted the ish to be more of that, and I just didn’t get it. The book was by no means lacking in action, but the espionage angle and inclusion of some unwelcome MI:6 characters took me out of an otherwise fun throwback story. There was too much Avengers; too much S.H.I.E.L.D.; too much MI:6; and nowhere near enough old-school martial arts movie feel to make this book more than “What’s Shang-Chi been up to?”, and I really couldn’t care less. As a Marvel character, Shang-Chi is barely a B-Lister, but as a martial artist he’s compelling and different. If this ish would have put a stronger focus on Shang-Chi the fighter and a whole lot less of it on Shang-Chi the Avenger/Marvel Character, things could have been tons better.
Deadly Hand of Kung Fu #1 wasn’t a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t the comic book I was expecting. Although I was looking for something that paid homage to those great and terrible kung-fu movies of my youth, what I got was just another Avenger’s story, starring an Avenger that I don’t really care that much about, doing things that only slightly resemble those weekend TV viewing pastimes on its subtle surface. At its core, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu is a karate book in name only, and is really just another comic book starring an uninteresting character.
Story: 2 Out of 5
Art: 3.5 Out of 5
Overall: 2.5 Out of 5