Secret Wars has taken all of Marvel history and created a new landscape where different realities, timelines, and locations are given their own individual kingdoms in Battleworld, a sprawling territory created and ruled by God Emperor Doom. The event’s tie-in miniseries delves into the specific kingdoms, and next week marks the beginning of a surge of new books highlighting different corners of the Marvel universe. One of those titles is Master Of Kung Fu, set in the mystical land of K’Un Lun where martial arts dominate the culture.
Shang Chi is a disgraced warrior wanted for murder who has come out of hiding, and his return grabs the attention of familiar Marvel characters that have received a kung fu makeover for this series. Writer W. Haden Blackman, artist Dalibor Talajic, inker Goran Sudzuka, and colorist Miroslav Mrva have a lot of fun with the concept in this preview of next week’s Master Of Kung Fu #1, pitting Shang Chi against characters like Razor Fist and Typhoid Mary before mutants like Callisto, Caliban, and Wolfsbane join the fight. One of the best things about Blackman’s recent run on Elektra was the action, and this preview suggests that there will be no shortage of fighting in a book that has “Kung Fu” right there in the title.
The art team has a clean style that renders the fight in crisp clarity, and that first shot of Shang Chi compacts a lot of action beats in a small space. But the most captivating thing about this preview is seeing how familiar Marvel characters change depending on the setting, something that readers will be seeing a lot of over the course of the summer. Talajic does exceptional work reinterpreting these characters through an Eastern-inspired design sensibility, holding on to defining features but changing the general look of each character dramatically. (Kitty Pryde’s pet Lockheed as a Chinese dragon is an inspired touch.) Secret Wars is giving creators the opportunity to play around and try something different with this stable of characters, and there’s a lot of potential for very fun stories to come out of this event.