Monday, 14 March 2016
Battleworld: Master of Kung Fu Review (Haden Blackman, Dalibor Talajic)
In the mystical and martial arts-obsessed land of K’un Lun, the Emperor of the kingdom is selected through trial by combat in the 13 Chambers which opens every 13 years. Emperor Zheng-Zu’s rule is about to be challenged in a few days as the 13 Chambers opens once more and his estranged son, Shang-Chi, steps up to prove he is the Master of Kung Fu!
Master of Kung Fu is a throwback to ‘70s-era Marvel when they were publishing a lot of Kung fu comics featuring the Bruce Lee-derivative character, Shang-Chi. The story (which closely mirrors Enter the Dragon) doesn’t really have anything to do with Secret Wars. It’s set on Battleworld but that’s about it - it’s a standalone Marvel-ized martial arts book. And, like many of the Secret Wars tie-ins that have nothing to do with Secret Wars, it’s actually not bad.
Dalibor Talajic’s art is very nice and the Francesco Francavilla covers were excellent. I’m not going to rave about the art but I didn’t have any problems with it either.
Shang-Chi is written well as this reluctant hero, brought out of a self-destructive funk by a group of outcasts who want to make K’un Lun a less fascistic place. Shang-Chi’s journey to the showdown with his dad was handled well. The earlier action scenes when Shang-Chi was battling with nobodies were oddly more interesting than the tournament fights, most of which were rushed and had too much forgettable dialogue thrown in. At least some of the fights in this martial arts comic were exciting though.
Haden Blackman uses the first three pages of each of the four issues to explain Shang-Chi’s backstory and K’un Lun’s history, which is ok as it keeps the main story from getting bogged down by separating the two, but they were still onerous to read. Ultimately these tie-ins are totally throwaway so putting in all this detail felt unnecessary.
Also included is Ronin #2 by Peter Milligan and Dalibor Talajic that wasn’t very interesting - it was like a sub-standard Usagi Yojimbo piece about villagers trying to get a reluctant samurai to fight for them. Again though, great art from Talajic.
If you’re in the mood for a decent martial arts Marvel comic, check out Master of Kung Fu.
Battleworld: Master of Kung Fu