Spider-Island

Spider-Island: Kung Fu Collision

Antony Johnston pairs Shang-Chi with Iron Fist on the arachnid-infested streets of Manhattan in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu

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By Ben Morse

All his life, Shang-Chi has worked and struggled to hone his discipline and become master of both his mind and body, but this summer he will contend with beasts threatening to tear his peace asunder, both on the outside and within.

SPIDER-ISLAND: DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU #1 cover by Sebastian Fiumara

SPIDER-ISLAND: DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU, a three-issue limited series by Antony Johnston and Sebastian Fiumara beginning in August, brings Shang-Chi into the infestation plaguing Manhattan with a darkly personal invitation.

“Shang-Chi is drawn into a web—pardon the pun—of intrigue and deceit, as the events of Spider-Island spiral out of control through the city,” says Johnston. “It all starts with a recurring nightmare, than Shang is turning into a spider. While his story doesn’t take place at the center of the action, he knows that if he fails it could spread to have devastating consequences.”

In trying to unlock the secrets behind his own visions and the transformation he’s experiencing, Shang-Chi will stumble upon a larger conspiracy involving Bride of Nine Spiders, one of the Immortal Weapons and an associate of Iron Fist.

“Iron Fist and the Bride are major players in this story, both as fighters—the kung fu action is crazy wall-to-wall stuff—and as pieces of the puzzle,” Johnston promises. “They’re at the center of the mystery, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you’ll realize it’s not at all what you expected.”

Even as he spars with the Immortal Weapons, rages against his own inner demons and attempts to clean up New York City of its pest problem, Shang-Chi must also contend with an enigmatic mastermind pulling the strings of the entire tapestry. Johnston has great faith—not to mention special affection—for his hero, though.

“Shang-Chi is unique in the Marvel Universe,” he contends. “He is, literally, the Master of Kung Fu. The best there is at what he does, to coin a phrase—and what he does is beat you to a pulp, all while musing on the vagaries of life, spirituality and chi. You can’t get any better than that.

“I have an affinity for the low and non-powered characters, because they have to work twice as hard, and risk twice as much, as the other guys. Shang’s not bulletproof, he can’t fly, he’s not super strong.”

Along those lines, Johnston sees the growing friendship between Shang-Chi and Spider-Man as the Master of Kung Fu trains the Wallcrawler in the ways of the warrior to be a natural one, despite their surface differences.

“Spider-Man knows that, in addition to being a great fighter, Shang-Chi is an honorable man who won’t back down from the right course of action, and Shang sees the same qualities in Spidey,” he notes. “There are other factors; they both have the utmost respect for life, and they’re both outsiders in their own way. They know their motives and methods are misunderstood by most people.

“And they both know what it’s like to feel like you’re playing second fiddle to the mega powerful guys like Thor or Iron Man, you know? I picture them sitting on a rooftop together, bitching about those flying guys with their laser beams and suits of armor.”

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