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Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1 – Review

By: Antony Johnston (writer), Sebastian Fiumara (pencils), John Lucas (inks), Dan Brown (colors), Joe Sabino (letters) & Alejandro Arbona (editor)

The Story: Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, runs into some of the Immortal Weapons for the Iron Fist stories during Spider-Island.

What’s Good: Two reasons to buy this… One, if you’re a Shang Chi fan you’ll want to see what he’s up to.  He’s one of those guys who is a cult favorite, but just cannot carry his own ongoing title.  So, if you want to see him, you have to look out for him in miniseries like this one or when he pops up in the pages of other comics.  This is a pretty good Shang Chi story as he has gotten spider powers (along with the rest of NYC), but is trying to figure out why he has these powers when a few others have been exempted AND why he is having disturbing dreams featuring the Immortal Weapons (who were created during Brubaker and Fraction’s great run on Iron Fist).  It’s fun and quick and features a lot of action.

This is also a comic to get if you like comic art.  I had seen the name Fiumara associated with this title and assumed that meant Max Fiumara.  Then I opened the issue and noticed how completely different this looks than Max’s art and was investigating whether the inker could possibly be having that HUGE of an effect.  Then I noted that this comic was penciled by Sebastian Fiumara.  Different artist (duh!), but really nice nonetheless.  One of the great things about these tie-in miniseries at Marvel is that the editors don’t just farm out art chores to Marvel regulars who aren’t on ongoing books.  Often they give the art chores to up and comers, giving you a chance to see something new and different.  Sebastian is one to keep an eye on because this art kicks ass.  You have wildly energetic characters (important with Shang Chi) that are drawn as if the artist has actually seen someone doing martial arts before (rather than just finding photo reference online).  He has that mix of proper anatomy and rough sketchiness that I so enjoy about artists like Riley Rossmo.  Great panel and page layouts too for those of us who find a bunch of rectangles really boring.  Really nice coloring from Dan Brown too where he matches his coloring to the roughness of the line art.

What’s Not As Good: Well, if you’re not a Shang Chi fan or not an art nut, there isn’t much here.  I strongly doubt this miniseries is going to contain the essential facts of Spider-Island, so I could see a majority of comic fans reading this and cursing these damnable event tie-in miniseries that are never “important” and feeling like they’re getting ripped off again.

There are also a few annoyances.  Like, I can never remember how to spell “Shang Chi”, so I was flipping through the opening pages trying to find his name and it doesn’t show up until the 3rd page.  For a bit character, his name should be on the first page.  On a semi humorous note, I also wonder how many of those black t-shirts with the golden dragon does Shang Chi own?  I guess it is kinda his “uniform”, but much like I’ve heard Luke Cage fans bemoan Luke’s “uniform” being a raggedy pair of blue jeans (shirt optional), it seems like Marvel could do better for one of their few Asian heroes.  Not saying he needs to be in spandex, but he can’t be wearing the same t-shirt every day.

Conclusion: If you love Shang Chi or are an art nut, this is a must buy.  Otherwise, you can probably skip it because the story itself doesn’t seem that vital to Spider-Island.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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