Shang-Chi is a Marvel Comics character, often called the "Master of Kung Fu". He was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin. He has no special superpowers, but he exhibits extraordinary skills in the martial arts and is a master of Wushu (a general name for the various Chinese styles) both empty handed and with weapons, including the staff, nunchaku and double-edged sword.
Shang-Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973) by Englehart and Starlin (SME #1–14 were reprints of older Marvel superhero stories). Shang-Chi appeared again in issue #16, and with issue #17 (April 1974) the title was changed to The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu. Amidst the martial arts craze in the United States in the 1970s, the book became very popular, surviving until issue #125 (June 1983), a run including five giant-size issues. He also co-starred with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #84 and The Thing in Marvel Two-in-One #29. Shang-Chi also appeared in Marvel's Special Collector's Edition #1 entitled "Savage Fists of Kung Fu". At the height of the martial arts craze, he did several crossovers with other Marvel martial artists, including White Tiger, Iron Fist, and Daughters of the Dragon (Colleen Wing and Misty Knight). He also appeared quite prominently in Marvel's sister imprint magazine entitled Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.
The series began by introducing Shang-Chi as a man raised by his father Fu Manchu to be the ultimate lackey for the would-be world conqueror. However, his first mission, in which he killed one of his father's old enemies, Dr. Petrie, ended with Shang-Chi learning of Fu Manchu's true, evil nature. Disillusioned, Shang-Chi swore eternal opposition to his father's ambitions and fought him as an agent of British intelligence, under the orders of Nayland Smith.
The series was an instant sales success. Though Englehart and Starlin soon left as the creative talent for the title, its success grew once writer Doug Moench and artist Paul Gulacy, began collaborating in issues #22. Their critically acclaimed run continued (with short gaps) until #51 when Gulacy was replaced by artist Jim Craig. Craig was later succeeded by Mike Zeck who became the regular penciller in issue #64 (1978).
Gulacy was a film buff, and modelled many characters after film stars: Juliette on Marlene Dietrich, James Larner on Marlon Brando, Clive Reston (often broadly hinted at as being the son of James Bond as well as the grand nephew of Sherlock Holmes) occasionally looking like Basil Rathbone and Sean Connery, and a minor character Ward Sarsfield (after the real-life name of Sax Rohmer) who looked like David Niven. Moench introduced other film-based characters, including ones modeled after Groucho Marx and W. C. Fields.
Moench continued for a long tenure, though the title did not again receive the same level of acclaim as the Gulacy period until Gene Day, who had previously been inking the book, took over penciling in #100 (1981). Despite critical success, sales lagged, and the publication schedule change from monthly to bimonthly. Day died of a heart attack after finishing issue #120, and Moench left the book after #122. The book was cancelled three issues later, where Shang-Chi retired to a passive life as a fisherman in a village.
Shang-Chi had two more short series: the Master of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black graphic novel (1990) and the MAX miniseries Master of Kung Fu: Hellfire Apocalypse (2002) (with artist Paul Gulacy on art again). The character also had two stories in the anthology series Marvel Comics Presents (including one by Moench that ran in the series' first eight issues in 1988), and co-starred in the Moon Knight Special (1992).
Although spun out of licensed properties, Shang-Chi is a Marvel-owned character and has been firmly established as a part of the Marvel Universe with guest appearances in numerous other titles, such as Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Knights and X-Men. Most of the original, licensed, characters in the supporting cast have been phased out in the more recent series and stories.
In some of his modern appearances, mention is made of his villainous father who has apparently returned from the dead (Marvel's version of Fu Manchu was meant to have died in Master Of Kung Fu #118). However Fu Manchu is never named, only referred to as Shang's 'father' and is never shown out of shadow, as Marvel have opted not to renew the license to the character. Shang-Chi returned as a main character in the 2007 Heroes for Hire comic book, and both he & several of his supporting cast appear in that year's Wisdom miniseries.
Shang-Chi has been identified as a possible Initiative recruit.
As a member of the restored Heroes for Hire, Shang Chi had put his strength of character at the service of their teammates, his desire for inner peace often mistaken for coldness. However, Shang Chi warms with time, or at least shows more his genuine emotions, as when he avenges the death of fellow teammate Orka, forges a measure of friendship with Humbug and forges a somewhat romantic relationship with the more feisty and emotive Tarantula, peaking in a passionate kiss in the Savage Land. He later tries to put more distance between him and Maria, fearing that a strong relation could lead his inner peace to downfall, something that happens a few time later, during the World War Hulk.
Humbug, turning cards against the heroes, tries to double cross both his friends and the "Earth Hive" of insects, joining the Hive and offering Colleen Wing and Tarantula to a lifetime of tortures. Even so, when a dying Humbug begs his friend to mercy kill him, Shang Chi refuses, until he finds that Humbug actually had no qualms to torture Tarantula, if it meant less suffering for Colleen. Shang Chi then snaps his neck, and leaves with the catatonic Tarantula, ashamed of what he had to become, a soulless murderer.
Still working for MI6, he goes on to collaborate with Pete Wisdom of MI-13 in facing the Welsh dragon, which had turned amnesiac and become a human crimelord; Shang Chi had been told by Wisdom that the dragon (being inherently noble) would go free once it remembered its true origins, and was embittered to find this had been a lie. He also became the ward and tutor of a young Earth-616 Killraven.
Shang-Chi is classed as an athlete but he is one of the best non-superhumans in martial arts and has dedicated much of his life to the art, being referred to by some as the greatest empty handed fighter alive. Much of his physical abilities seem to stem from his mastery of chi, which often allows him to surpass physical limitations of normal athletes. In one instance, Shang was able to stand shirtless in minus 20 degree weather without feeling any physical discomfort. He has also demonstrated the ability to dodge bullets and to deflect single shots with his bracers.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Shang-Chi first appeared in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #15. He is the son of an international crime lord named Fu Manchu. Trained from birth to become a living weapon, he became the world's greatest martial artist. A noble spirit, he eventually came to renounce his father's empire. Seeking to get away from his father's reach, he emigrated to New York where he worked as a floor sweeper at Wu's Fish Market in Chinatown. At some point, he met and befriended fellow martial artist Danny Rand.
While Shang-Chi was in Chinatown, three separate gangs were threatening the locals. He was the only one who was willing to stand up to them. One day, he stopped a couple of the thugs from mugging a newcomer to the area, Leiko, unaware that she was an agent sent by his father to look for him. Shortly after, he was attacked by more gang members, attracting the attention of Spider-Man, who was in the area at the moment. Before Spider-Man could lend his help, Shang-Chi had already beaten the gang members. Seeing that Shang-Chi didn't need his help, Spider-Man left.
Leiko met with the local gangs promising them exclusive rights to the local drug trade if they could break, but not kill, Shang-Chi. Wu Kwan, the man who ran the fish market overheard the conversation and told Shang-Chi to leave the city for his own safety. Before he could do so, he was confronted by the heavily armed gangs. Shang-Chi, who was outnumbered 40 to 1, began to cut a swath through his foes but was overwhelmed by their sheer numbers. This was when Spider-Man came to lend him a hand, and together they triumphed. Impressed by Shang-Chi's skills, Spider-Man asked him to teach him some moves. In gratitude, Shang-Chi only had time to teach him the White Ape maneuver before departing the city.
Shang-Chi secretly returned though, feeling that the denizens of New York's Chinatown needed someone to protect them. He and his friend Danny Rand were recently drawn into the gang war between the Kingpin and Hammerhead after the latter targeted him to win over the Chinatown gangs to his cause. The conflict climaxed when Shang-Chi, Danny Rand, Spider-Man, Black Cat, Moon Knight and Elektra ambushed Hammerhead's penthouse, where a battle royale ensued. It ended with an unconscious Elektra, Hammerhead and Moon Knight. The gang members were then arrested by the police.
The martial arts warrior recently disguised himself as a costumed criminal in order to take down the Kingpin. The Kingpin discovered his plan and threatened to kill the hero, but he was rescued by the Man Without Fear, Daredevil, who then recruited him as a part of his team.