by Matthew Baugh with Win Eckert
From 1973-1983 Marvel Comics published a series about the son of Fu Manchu, a young man whose name, Shang Chi, means "the rising and advancing of the spirit." The series began in issue #15 of "Special Marvel Edition" but by issue #17 the title officially became "The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu." The series involved the young son of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu and his quest to oppose his father's evil plans while seeking his own spiritual growth. It featured not only Fu Manchu, but also Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, Fah Lo Suee and other characters from the Fu Manchu books by Sax Rohmer. Following cancellation of the series, Shang Chi appeared in two different mini-series featured in "Marvel Comics Presents," as well as one issue, "The Return of Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu."
With such a strong and obvious link to the Wold Newton Family tree, Master of Kung Fu would seem an obvious candidate for inclusion in the Wold Newton Universe. The problem is that Shang Chi is also connected with the Marvel Universe and its many characters. On separate occasions he has guest-starred in other titles with Elektra, the X-Men, Heroes for Hire, Rom the Spaceknight, Spiderman, the Black Widow, Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil. There have also been several Shang Chi villains have appeared in other Marvel titles, notably Zaran, the weapons master, and Shockwave.
This is a problem, for the Wold Newton Universe is very distinct from the reality of Marvel Comics. On the surface at least, the Wold Newton Universe is much more prosaic. There are no mass scares over mutants, the Hulk and other monsters do not ravage whole towns, aliens are not widely known to exist, and there are no Avengers, Fantastic Four, or other costumed super humans ready to save the world at a moment's notice. The heroes of Wold Newton are, for the most part, less showy and less super than that.
The answer is that, while the Marvel Universe has its connections with Shang Chi, he has a much more tenuous link with it. The Master of Kung Fu series is much closer in its feel to the worlds of Sax Rohmer and Ian Fleming than to the realm of the true super hero. There are no references to mutants, alien races or other Marvel conventions in MOKF's ten-year run. Shang Chi's enemies are usually only well trained humans and, when they are superhuman, it is only marginally so. Spiderman and the other super heroes Shang Chi teams with in other titles are never referred to in his series. Finally, time in the Marvel Universe passes far more slowly than in the 'real' world. While nearly forty years have passed for the rest of us, characters like Spiderman and the Fantastic Four have only aged eight. Time in Shang Chi's world, on the other hand, seems to have kept pace with our own. In short, a link with the Marvel Universe is not essential to the MOKF series. While there is indeed a Shang Chi in the Marvel Universe this proves no bar to keep him from being a part of the Wold Newton Universe as well. Only Shang Chi's appearances in other titles must be considered fictional for our purposes.
There are two exceptions to this rule, Shang Chi's meeting with the bizarre Man-Thing in MOKF #19, and his conflict with Dr. Doom in MOKF #59-60. This would seem to imply a necessary connection to established Marvel characters. In both situations though, Shang Chi had been subjected to mind-altering drugs. In the Dr. Doom storyline he was also being deceived by some remarkably lifelike automatons. A quick reading of these stories will show that, in the Wold Newton Universe, Shang Chi may only have thought he had met a humanoid mountain of muck and an armored super villain.
SME = Special Marvel Edition
MOKF = Master of Kung Fu
MOKF2 = Master of Kung Fu mini-series, 2002-2003
DHOKF = Deadly Hands of Kung Fu
GSMOKF = Giant Sized Master of Kung Fu
JIM = Journey Into Mystery
MCP = Marvel Comics Presents
ROSC = Return of Shang Chi
Denis Nayland Smith is born. (This information, never given in the Fu Manchu books, appears in Master of Kung Fu #18 when Smith says, "...since I first saw him (Fu Manchu) in 1911. It was a different world then. I was 28, then - and like every occidental I feared the unknown east and its 'yellow peril.'")
Birth of Dr. Petrie, son of celebrated British Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie.
Smith first encounters Fu Manchu while an agent of the British Government in Burma.
Dr. Petrie's daughter, Fleurette, is born.
"Black" Jack Tarr is born. (This is speculation, based on Tarr's apparent age and the fact that he served in the Second World War.)
Smith, Petrie, and Lyman Leeks foil Fu Manchu's plot to kidnap the leaders of the League of Nations. (MOKF #81).
Tarr enters the British Foreign Service in Hong Kong, where he frequently works with Smith.
Clive Reston is born. (The date is an estimate, based on Reston's apparent age.) Also this year Tarr loses Anna, the love of his life, when she decides that he is more devoted to duty and his adventures with Smith, than to her. (The story is told in flashback in MOKF #70.)
Leiko Wu is born. Leiko's father is, in her words: "...Hong Kong Cultural Attaché---and sometime spy for the crown---stationed in London." She also has an older brother, David, who follows their father into diplomatic service, though he refuses to participate in espionage. Nothing is mentioned about Leiko's mother, though it is possible that she is Japanese (the name "Leiko" is Japanese and means "arrogant"). (This date is also speculation, based on Leiko's apparent age.)
Shang Chi is born. He is the son of Dr. Fu Manchu and an unnamed American woman scientifically chosen to bear him. His name roughly translates as "the rising and advancing of the spirit." (This date is based on the fact that Shang Chi is 19 when he first meets Nayland Smith in 1971. It seems appropriate that his birth year is also the year of the dragon on the Chinese calendar.)
An African village where Fu Manchu has stored a deadly fungus is destroyed by Smith and his allies. Fu Manchu saves a scarred infant named M'nai and raises him as Shang Chi's surrogate brother.
Following the events of Emperor Fu Manchu, Fu Manchu takes vengeance on his enemies. American agent Tony McKay he kills outright and then has Smith's legs crushed, crippling him. (This is revealed in MOKF #15.)
Fu Manchu punishes Fah Lo Suee for her continuous betrayals by programming her lover with the murderous talents and appetite of Jack the Ripper. (MOKF #100.)
Fu Manchu's Machiavellian scheming shatters Shang Chi's childhood friendship with a boy named Shoh Teng. (The story is told in flashback in MOKF #64, where it is said to have happened 13 years prior to that issue.)
Black Jack Tarr retires from the service and settles in New York where he builds a 'Murder Mansion' replete with hidden death traps.
On his fourteenth birthday, Shang Chi is subjected to a test of his killer instinct by his father, Fu Manchu, and his instructor, Cho Lin. It is only after Shang's break with Fu Manchu (in 1971) that Fu Manchu and Cho Lin realize that Shang Chi's true reaction was not admiration for the complexity of Fu Manchu's test, but rather repugnance toward the unnecessary brutality and violence. (DHOKF #1).
A youthful adventure of Shang Chi and M'nai. (This is told in flashback in MOKF #41 and is said to have taken place four years prior to that issue.)
The young Shang Chi is sent to London to assassinate Fu Manchu's old foe, Dr. Petrie. This brings him into contact with Smith for the first time, and reveals to him the truth about his father. Shang Chi swears to oppose, denounce and destroy Fu Manchu. (The story is told in MOKF #15. The date comes from Smith's statement in #18, and Fu Manchu's statement in #22 that their 1911 meeting was "sixty years" ago. This is further corroborated by Shang Chi's observation in #17 that Smith is nearly ninety.) Shang Chi is forced to fight his brother M'nai to the death (MOKF#16). He is nearly killed in Tarr's murder mansion before he can reconcile with Smith (MOKF #17). As a result of this encounter, Nayland Smith recovers the use of his legs. Shang Chi joins Smith in thwarting Fu Manchu's plan to introduce a mind-control drug into the American gasoline supply. (MOKF #18-19.) Of this episode, Keith Martin writes: It occurs to me that there's another character connection here: In MOKF#19 Shang-Chi meets another martial artist, a wandering philosopher who looks a lot like David Carradine in the role of Kwai-Chang Caine in "Kung Fu." (This was very much a deliberate resemblance by the writer and artist.) The two men fight Man-Thing during Shang-Chi's hallucination and later engage in a debate about pacifism (the Caine character's stance) versus fighting back against your enemies (Shang-Chi's position). The wanderer's philosophy is very much Caine's. Although the original Kwai-Chang Caine lived long before 1971, the wanderer could easily have been his grandson, the modern-day Kwai-Chang Caine from "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues." [Incidentally, artist Paul Gulacy captured Carradine's likeness so well that Marvel seems to have worried about litigation. The British reprint of the MOKF#19 story (which for some reason was actually published first) showed the wanderer as clean-shaven and looking exactly like Carradine. When the US edition came out very soon afterwards, the character sported a prominent moustache.] A Florida gangster with ties to Fu Manchu unsuccessfully attempts to assassinate Shang Chi. (MOKF#20-21. #20 was reprinted in issue #53.)
Unknown to Shang Chi another child is born to Fu Manchu, a boy named Moving Shadow. Because of Shang Chi's defection Fu Manchu works especially hard at raising Moving Shadow to be ruthless and loyal. (The date is speculative and based on the idea that Fu Manchu would had moved immediately to create a replacement once Shang Chi betrayed him.)
Shang Chi has a series of adventures that cannot exactly be dated. A likely sequence seems to be that, following issue #21 he spends considerable time wandering the United States. These adventures are chronicled in DHOKF #1-33 and are not connected to the timeline of MOKF in any obvious way. After the wanderings he returns to New York and the MOKF timeline resumes. In New York, Shang encounters a group of Fu Manchu's failed experiments in horror. Although he refuses to join them in their quest for revenge, he does promise not to betray them and wishes them well. However, as he takes his leave, Fu Manchu destroys their headquarters, leaving only Shang alive. (DHOKF #2). Shang rescues a young woman from a group of attackers, lead by a man called the Adder. It turns out that the Adder is the largest drug dealer in Chinatown, and that he was willing to kill his daughter, the woman Shang rescued, in order to protect his secret business (DHOKF #3: Web of Bleeding Vipers). In New York, Shang is attacked by one of his father's assassins, but the attack fails. To save himself, the assassin lies to Shang that Fu Manchu intends to contaminate the Los Angeles water supply. Shang hitchhikes to L.A. with a hippie couple, and then meets and defeats a gorilla-man in L.A. The creature is a victim of Fu Manchu's fiendish experiments, who turns out to be the same assassin that Shang had earlier defeated in New York (DHOKF #4: Circle of Serpent's Blood). In Hollywood, Shang sees a martial arts film which features an old friend Kwai Loo. Tracking down Kwai Loo, Shang learns that Kwai fled Fu Manchu's service rather than fulfill an assignment to track down and kill Shang. However, even Shang cannot preserve Kwai Loo from Fu Manchu's vengeance (DHOKF #5: Two Goals to Seek, One Path to Glory). Shang then unwillingly fights an L.A. street gang (DHOKF #6: Lesson of the Locust). Now in San Francisco, Shang becomes involved in a conflict with the Mob. At the same time, Fu Manchu sets a team of Si-Fan warriors after him. Shang solves this predicament by setting the mobsters against the Si-Fan and escaping the resulting clash (DHOKF #7: The Past-Assassins). Shang then tracks down the Midnight Slasher responsible for a string of murders (DHOKF #8: A Hatred for All Seasons) and fights against one other nearly his equal (DHOKF #9: A Contest of Truth). At Berkeley, Shang attempts and fails to prevent a deadly clash between student rioters and the National Guard (DHOKF #11: A Different Lesson in Blood Unchanged). Fu Manchu attempts to have Shang Chi murdered on his 20th birthday (GSMOKF #1) giving this story a 1972 date. Shang Chi helps Smith prevent Fu Manchu's destruction of Mt. Rushmore. (MOKF #22.) Shang Chi and Smith go to South America to prevent Fu Manchu from obtaining a nuclear device from a Nazi war criminal named Bucher. (MOKF #23-25.) While trying to save a Chinese scientist from Fu Manchu, Shang Chi meets, and loses, his first love, Sandy. (GSMOKF #2.) Dr. Petrie is revealed to be alive. The 'assassination' had been of a double as part of Fu Manchu's plan to conceal the disappearance of the real Petrie. Shang Chi, Smith, Tarr and their new ally Clive Reston rescue the doctor. (GSMOKF #3.) The Saga of the Golden Dragon (takes place after it is discovered that Petrie is still alive; DHOKF #12-14, 16-18.) Fu Manchu's daughter, Fah Lo Suee, returns and Shang Chi and his allies become involved in her attempts to wrest control of the Si-Fan from her father. (MOKF #26-28.) Robert Greville also appears in this case and is quickly dispatched by Fah Lo Suee. Robert is most likely the son of Shan Greville and Rima Barton (see The Daughter of Fu Manchu and The Mask of Fu Manchu). Rima was the niece of Sir Lionel Barton, a central figure in the Fu Manchu novels. Shan Greville's nieces Melissa and Mandy appear later in the Master of Kung Fu series; they are the daughters of Shan's brother, Bertram Greville. Shang Chi faces a rogue Si Fan operative named Tiger Claw, and first meets Rufus T. Hackstabber. (GSMOKF #4.)
Shang Chi helps Smith and the British agency MI-6 defeat Carlton Velcro, a drug-lord who is amassing conventional and nuclear weapons in a bid for world power. (MOKF #29-32. This date comes from issue #105 in which Velcro's tombstone appears, listing 1975 as the year of his death.) Shang Chi is sent to France to guard a refinery against a takeover by a mysterious computer conglomerate. (MOKF #102.) Back in New York, Shang is unwillingly involved in a conflict between two martial arts schools (DHOKF #33: Between Two Hates). MI-6 agent Leiko Wu joins Smith's team to help overthrow the master of robotics and assassination named Mordillo. Leiko and Shang Chi become lovers. (MOKF #33-35.) Stopping in Cairo on his return to London, Shang Chi encounters Rufus T. Hackstabber and his cousin Quigley J. Warmflash. (Told as a flashback in MOKF #52.) Shang Chi has a bizarre encounter with 'Moon Sun's Carnival' and the 'Warlords of the Web.' (MOKF #36-37.) Traveling to Hong Kong, Shang Chi meets his equal in the deadly martial artist Shen Kuei, a.k.a. 'Cat.' (MOKF #38-39.)
Shang Chi and his allies struggle against the sinister 'Oriental Expediters' and their secret master, Fu Manchu. This time the devil doctor has pulled out all the stops. Petrie is discovered to have been acting as his mind-controlled agent ever since his rescue (he is eventually reprogrammed). Fu Manchu has also resurrected his ancestor, Shaka Kharn, a legendary warrior who will replace Shang Chi as his son. Shaka is also said to have been the original discoverer of the elixir vitae. The Devil Doctor's plan is to hurl the moon from its orbit, causing a global catastrophe, which will shatter all nations and institutions. He then plans to return from his orbital space station to rule the helpless survivors. This epic struggle ends when Shang Chi appears to fatally shoot his father. (MOKF #40-51.)
Shang Chi faces a rogue faction in the British Secret Service and their deadly agent 'War-Yore.' (MOKF #54-58.) A mysterious foe plays a series of mind games with Shang Chi using robot doubles and hallucinogenic drugs. On the surface this seems to be the Marvel Comics villain, Dr. Doom, but there are so many levels of deception and illusion that the truth of his identity cannot be determined with certainty. (MOKF #59-60.) Shang Chi faces a rematch with Shen Kuei and the pirate warlord Krogar. (MOKF #61-69. Shang Chi makes reference to the newly released 'Fleetwood Mac' album, placing the story firmly in 1977.) Tarr and Shang Chi nearly become victims of the 'Murder Mansion' as Tarr's old lover Anna seeks vengeance on him. (MOKF #70.) Smith resigns from MI-6, which has become rife with corruption. Shang Chi and his friends face Mordillo's robot servant Brynocki as they seek evidence against the agency. (MOKF #71-75. In issue #71 Shang Chi and Leiko go to the recently released movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," establishing the 1977 date.)
Shang Chi and his friends discover that Fah Lo Suee has insinuated herself into the British Secret Service and is at the heart of the corruption they are facing. This storyline also features the return of Petrie's "late" wife, Kâramanèh. Also, Fu Manchu has returned with a plan for world dominion that involves an elaborate hoax of an alien invasion. He appears to perish when the 'U.F.O.' he is piloting crashes into the ocean. (MOKF #76-89.) 1980 Shang Chi and Leiko stay on in New York for a rest after the end of Fu Manchu's plans. There they become involved with a Chinatown gang war, and a rogue Si Fan agent terrorizing the community with his 'monster.' (MOKF #90-92.) Frustrated with MI-6 corruption Smith, Tarr and Reston leave the agency to form the independent Freelance Restorations Ltd. In this new group they can allow their consciences to guide their actions. On returning from America Shang Chi and Leiko will sign on as well. Returning to England, Shang Chi joins forces with Nayland Smith against a cult which is actually a front for the Soviet agent known as 'Samisdat.' (MOKF #93-95.)
Shang Chi has a string of unconnected adventures in which he twice encounters C.I.A. agent and kickboxing champ Rufus "Super Midnight" Carter. (MOKF #96 and 98.) He also faces a recreation of Jack the Ripper, an old lover of Fah Lo Suee's driven insane by Fu Manchu and kept young for the past twenty years by the elixir vitae. (MOKF #100. Taken together, these adventures cover MOKF #96-101.) Shang Chi meets Shen Kuei again in an encounter that finally leads to mutual respect. (MOKF #103-104.) Carlton Velcro returns from the dead, seeking vengeance on Shang Chi and his allies. (MOKF #105-106.) 1982 Shang Chi assists in the defection of a Soviet agent and assassin, code-named 'Dark Angel.' (MOKF #107-109.) A plot by the assassin 'Ghost Maker' to kill the Queen of England is defeated by Shang Chi and his friends. (MOKF #110-111.) Shang Chi faces more MI-6 duplicity in Toronto, then travels to China to try to protect an elderly couple from Fu Manchu's vengeance. (MOKF #112-114.) Fu Manchu returns seeking Shang Chi's blood. His body has built up an immunity to the elixir, and only his children's blood can restore its potency. The story ends with, what appears to be, the final death of Fu Manchu. (MOKF #115-118. The date is provided by a telegram in #118 dated 8/6/82.)
Shang Chi has his final meetings with the vengeful Brynocki (MOKF #119) and his friend "Super Midnight" Carter (#120). He even plays one more 'game of deceit and death' with Soviet and British spies (#121) and helps Reston out of a tight spot in an asylum which uses inmates as guinea pigs for drug experiments (#122). Reston also states that, ""Fah, by the way, has taken over Smith's old job as director of MI-6... the witch," (#122), thus confirming that she was high up in MI-6, although we do not accept that she was in charge of all of MI-6 -- that would be a certain person who goes by the letter "M." Unexpectedly, Shang Chi goes on a quest for atonement for having killed his father. This takes him to New York in search of his mother (whose identity we never learn), then to the monastery of Rache Churan, where Fu Manchu learned his mental disciplines. Finally he completes his quest by forsaking his former life and becoming a fisherman in the Chinese village of Yang Yin. (MOKF #123-125.)
Shang Chi's activities are unknown. Presumably he is living the tranquil life of a rural fisherman.
Sir Denis Nayland Smith retires. Reston, Tarr and Leiko return to the service of MI-6 though the circumstances under which they do so are unknown. (Date is conjecture.)
Shang Chi is drawn back into the 'games of deceit and death' by the abduction of Leiko by the terrorist called 'Argus.' Shen Kuei is also featured in this brutal adventure, entitled Crossing Lines, in which Leiko loses one of her hands, and Shang Chi is exposed to a deadly toxin. He is given no more than a year to live by doctors. It is also revealed that Nayland Smith, age 106, is still alive, although in retirement. (MCP #1-8) Apparently Shang Chi's imminent death has caused Leiko Wu to resign from MI-6 and spend his last few months living with him in Hong Kong. When Leiko is kidnapped by an old adversary Shang is required to run The Gauntlet in order to rescue her. (MCP #156-158. Though this story was published after the Bleeding Black adventure in ROSC #1 this is the only logical place to fit it into the chronology.) In Bleeding Black, Shang Chi tracks down his father's legacy, which consists of control of the surviving Si-Fan and the last of Fu Manchu's elixir vitae. He rejects the first, and takes only one drink of the second before destroying it. It is uncertain whether the elixir has cured his body of the effects of the poison, but he faces the prospects of either extended life or imminent death with inner peace. (ROSC #1. The date is determined from a check written to an assassin which is dated 3 Dec, 89.) Shortly after the events of Bleeding Black Shang Chi separates from Leiko and returns to a life of seclusion off the coast of China. This may be because Leiko has re-entered MI-6 yet again.
Shang Chi is called back into service to help Tarr and Reston deal with a deadly mastermind called the Ghost. This villain has rediscovered a deadly weapon invented by Nicola Tesla and has also captured Leiko Wu. The Ghost is originally thought to be the immortal Count of St. Germain but actually proves to be Dr. Fu Manchu. In the conflict both Fu Manchu and Shang Chi's younger brother, Moving Shadow appear to die. Shang Chi returns to his reclusive lifestyle. (MOKF2 #1-6. The date is speculative and based on an interview in which writer Doug Moench said this series would take place about 10 years after the end of the original series. The second issue of the new series mentions that Tesla came to America "...a hundred years ago." Tesla came to the U.S. to work for Thomas Edison in 1884. The 100 years date cannot be exact but does suggest the early 1990's rather than 2002. If 118 years had really passed, Tarr would probably have said something like "nearly a hundred and twenty years ago." It is also clear in this series that Fah Lo Suee is no longer in a high position in MI-6, though the circumstances of her departure are not revealed.)
In a somewhat odd story, Shang has become a much more brash, wise-cracking hero and swears by Buddha quite a bit. He also sports a big dragon tattoo on one arm. (It is most likely that the tattoo was only a transfer because Shang would not desecrate the purity of his body in such a way.) He is in Hong Kong and it must be 1997 because the city has recently returned to Chinese rule. He is there to stop the efforts of a drug-lord called 'Cursed Lotus.' It is hinted that Cursed Lotus is actually Fah Lo Suee, but there is no explanation of why she would leave MI-6 to become a gangster, and her characterization seems off. None of the other characters come into the story except by means of a photo Shang Chi has of himself with Leiko, Tarr and Reston. (JIM #514-516). (An interesting idea that may explain why Shang Chi and Fah Lo Suee are so different in this story is that these characters may not be them at all. If Moving Shadow managed to survive the events of MOKF2 then he would probably have met Shang Chi again. Shang Chi could have struggled with Fu Manchu for the young man's soul and eventually won. Moving Shadow could have set about traveling the world fighting the Si-Fan to atone for his former life. The brash behaviour and tattoo seen in the JIM series would not have been out of character for Moving Shadow. Since Cursed Lotus is not identified as Fah Lo Suee but as the hero's sister she may be yet another daughter of Fu Manchu closer to Moving Shadow in age. This is sheer speculation, especially since the JIM stories were published before MOKF2, but it does have an attractive logic to it.)
Further Links to the Wold Newton Universe
The entire series is meant to be an extension of the Fu Manchu books. Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, Kâramanèh, Fah Lo Suee and many other characters from the books are regularly featured, not to mention the Devil Doctor himself.
Clive Reston, a regular character, is the illegitimate son of James Bond and the great-nephew of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, both of whom he alludes to in his debut issue (Giant Sized Master of Kung Fu #3) and many times thereafter.
The Bond link is further extended by Mordillo, who Reston refers to as one of his father's former enemies. The K.G.B. assassin code named 'Dark Angel' is connected to Bond. Reston says that she is the daughter of one 007's old lovers and uses the phrase "...from Russia with love, and all that." The implication is that Dark Angel is the daughter of Tatiana Romanova, heroine of Ian Fleming's novel From Russia With Love. Apparently she was born some time after Bond and Romanova parted, as Clive's behavior towards her would be inappropriate were she his half-sister.
In MOKF # 75, Lancaster Sneed, aka the villain Shockwave, reveals his origin and asserts that he is the nephew of Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and thus, the great-nephew of Sherlock Holmes. We must presume that Smith had a much younger sister who married a man named Sneed; she must have given birth to Lancaster relatively late in life.
In Giant-Size MOKF #4, Shang Chi meets NYC cabbie Rufus T. Hackstabber, a small quick-witted man with thick eyebrows, heavy glasses and a large grease-paint moustache. Though it is not explicitly stated, Hackstabber appears to be the same man who operated under various aliases in the 1930s including Mr. Hammer, Capt. Geoffrey T. Spaulding, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, Rufus T. Firefly, Otis P. Driftwood, Hugo Z. Hackenbush, Gordon Miller, J. Cheever Loophole, Wolf J. Flywheel, Ronald Kornblow, and Sam Grunion. If this the case then it establishes links to the movies: "The Cocoanuts," "Animal Crackers," "Monkey Business," "Horse Feathers," "Duck Soup," "A Night at the Opera," "A Day at the Races," "Room Service," "At the Circus," "The Big Store," "A Night in Casablanca," and "Love Happy." It also raises a mystery about Hackstabber's youthful appearance, and the absence of his two associates, the mute and the Italian.
In MOKF #52 Shang Chi again meets Rufus T. Hackstabber and his cousin Quigley J. Warmflash ("...twice removed by berth. He slept on the second bunk down"). Warmflash is an obese man with a bulbous nose who doesn't like "brats or dogs." Shang Chi protects them from Tiger Claw who is after a statue in Warmflash's possession. The statue is believed to hold a store of Fu Manchu's immortality elixir. It proves to be empty but if it had once been full, and Warmflash had known about the contents, this might just explain how he and Hackstabber look so youthful in the 1970s.
In issues #85-86 Shang Chi and friends take refuge in the Casablanca nightclub of an American named 'Richard' who is an old friend of Reston's father. Richard bears an uncanny resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. The implication is that he is Rick Blaine, hero of the movie Casablanca and the novel As Time Goes By, though his youthful appearance is never explained.
In MOKF #100, Shang Chi also faces a recreation of Jack the Ripper, an old lover of Fah Lo Suee's driven insane by Fu Manchu and kept young for the past twenty years by the elixir vitae. Apparently Fu Manchu knew the identity of the true Jack the Ripper, and was able to recreate him, using Fah Lo Suee's lover in order to punish her. Sherlock Holmes, Captain Kirk, and several other Wold Newton heroes have all met the Ripper, but their accounts of who, or what, he is are radically different. In spite (or perhaps because) of the plethora of solutions, the true nature of Jack the Ripper remains a mystery.
Speculation on the Parentage of Clive Reston
(by Matthew Baugh and Win Eckert)
At some point, possibly about 1925, Mycroft Holmes had a daughter. This may have been in secret (as so many of Sherlock's children were) or may have been the result of a May-December marriage (also a precedent set by his famous brother).
The young lady, named Violet, after Mycroft’s and Sherlock’s mother, dutifully married Mycroft's protégé, an unexciting man in Her Majesty's Secret Service named Beauregard. Beauregard was the son of one Charles Reston Beauregard, who was also a British Secret Service agent under Mycroft Holmes in the 1880s and 1890s. (See Andy Lane’s Doctor Who novel, All Consuming Fire, which takes place in 1887, and Kim Newman's Seven Stars. See also Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels for an alternate universe history of Beauregard, Sr.’s, career.) Through her husband and her father, Violet also became acquainted with the young Commander James Bond.
Like so many other women before and since, Violet Beauregard became infatuated with Bond and had a secret affair which resulted in her pregnancy. (In keeping with Bond's many liaisons with exotically named women, Violet was called by the nickname "Shrinking," ironically so during her pregnancy.) This all occurred around late 1946 when Beauregard and Bond were pulled into Nayland Smith's unrecorded post-war conflict with the resurgent threat of Fu Manchu.
Beauregard was killed in that conflict and Bond might have been able to save him, but only at the cost of failing to stop Fu Manchu. Anger kept Violet from ever reconciling with Bond and shame kept her from remarrying. Clive was considered her husband's legitimate son, but everyone in the Secret Service seemed to know better. However, Bond was more of a magical figure who popped into young Clive’s life every so often to tell him amazing stories. As with his other son, James Suzuki (b. 1964), Bond saw Clive perhaps once or twice a year as the boy grew up.
As with so many other Wold Newton figures whose stories have been told in various popular media, Clive Reston’s name was not given quite accurately in the Master of Kung Fu series. His true name is Clive Reston Beauregard.
Did Shang Chi live? Did Fu Manchu's elixir cure him, or did Argus' poison do its work? There have been many appearances of Shang Chi since that time in various comic-book titles proving that, as far as Marvel Comics is concerned, Shang Chi is still alive. Perhaps the most telling of these is a 1992 one shot "Special Edition" of Moon Knight written by Doug Moench. More than any other, Doug was the writer who shaped and guided the MOKF series, making Shang Chi, his friends, and his foes into believable human beings.
This story teams Shang Chi with the super hero Moon Knight to rescue the dupes of a sinister cult from Mordillo's island and destroy the robot Brynocki. It manages to capture the spirit of the MOKF series very well. For our purposes it, like all Shang Chi's guest appearances in other Marvel titles, must be considered fictional. But it does serve to let us know though that, in the mind of the writer who defined him, Shang Chi lives on!
That Shang survived the poison without any lasting ill-effects is also indicated by the 1994 and 1997 entries above, although these, unfortunately, were not written by Doug Moench.
It is fitting that a series with such real characters, set in real time, finally comes to a close. By the last issue, Smith would have been exactly 100 years old, and Tarr in his sixties. Even Shang Chi and Leiko were in their early thirties, and must have started thinking about the possibility of marriage and/or children. Has Smith since died? Have Shang Chi and Leiko Wu settled down to family life? It certainly seems possible, but maybe we are better off not knowing. As it is, we are left with the memories of them as they were, and that is how we loved them. Good memories, and the hope of a happy future are as good an ending as comic-book characters are likely to get.
As for Fu Manchu, his death in MOKF #118 had a feel of finality that none of his other 'deaths' did. It served as a fitting close to a series about spiritual growth for it affirmed Shang Chi's maturation. In the end he transcended his birth and no longer needed to be defined in relation to his father. To try and follow such a conclusion with another appearance of the Devil Doctor would be anticlimactic.
On the other hand, Fu Manchu is one of those rare characters who seems utterly unkillable. Like Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula and a few others, he has survived many seeming deaths and managed to capture the popular imagination long after his creator's death. Fu Manchu has grown beyond the power of any author or publisher, no matter how talented, to kill. The phrase he uttered so often at the end of the old Hammer Studios' Fu Manchu series is still true . . .
"The world shall hear from me again!"
The Shang Chi Chronology was created for the sole purposes of entertainment
and information. All rights reserved. The text of this page is © 2000-2004 by the