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These Are Shang-Chi's Biggest Allies

With "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," Marvel Comics' very own "Master of Kung Fu" is officially scheduled to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in September of 2021.

Introduced in the comics in 1973's "Special Marvel Edition" #15, Shang-Chi was created to capitalize on the intense popularity of kung fu movies in the early 1970s. Modeled after Bruce Lee, Shang-Chi is the son of an international supervillain who decided to use his lifetime of martial arts training to defeat his father and take down his criminal organization. 

By far one of the most obscure Marvel character to be given his own solo film, Shang-Chi starred in his own solo comic book series for nearly a decade before he fell from prominence. Despite this, the Master of Kung Fu has teamed up with a multitude of characters across the Marvel Universe throughout his long history, serving on a number of superhero teams and appearing as a supporting character to the likes of Daredevil, Wolverine, and Iron Fist. Shang-Chi has many friends, but these have traditionally been his biggest allies in the comics. 

Sir Denis Nayland Smith

When the "Kung Fu Craze" hit the United States in the early 1970s, Marvel capitalized on the trend by purchasing the comic book rights to Sax Rohmer's character "Fu Manchu" and his cast of supporting characters. Marvel chose to create a new character to lead the series, and thus, Shang-Chi was born. 

Established as the son of "Fu Manchu," Shang-Chi was trained in the art of kung fu for his entire life, unaware of his father's villainy until the man sent his son to murder an MI6 agent named Dr. James Petrie in "Special Marvel Edition" #15 in 1973. Sir Denis Nayland Smith confronted the young martial artist during the assassination attempt and exposed the truth: Shang-Chi's father was evil. A genuinely good man, Shang-Chi joined Smith and the rest of MI6 in the war against his father. 

Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie were both supporting characters in Sax Rohmer's deeply problematic and racist "Fu Manchu" novels. A xenophobic caricature, "Fu Manchu" was the quintessential personification of "Yellow Peril," the racist American fear that immigrants of Asian descent would eventually erase "white culture" in the US. This was the villain's goal, and Smith was the white man who fought him. Marvel eventually lost the rights to Rohmer's creation, and, likely due to the deeply racist nature of Rohmer's "franchise," they have not attempted to get them back. Thus, Fu Manchu was renamed "Zheng Zhu," and Denis has simply been referred to as "Smith" ever since. 

MI6

Shang-Chi's original comic book stories were set up as if vaguely continuing Sax Rohmer's "Fu Manchu" franchise. The series' traditional protagonist, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, was now an old man who had since joined MI6 to continue battling against his arch-enemy's dreams of world conquest. Shang-Chi is established as a previously unknown son of the villain, and his introduction spurs the continuation of Rohmer's story. This time, however, they would focus on martial arts combat and espionage as Shang-Chi worked alongside the classic British spy agency, MI6

Though presented more fantastically than its real-world equivalent, the Secret Intelligence Service, Shang-Chi joined the agency in "Master of Kung Fu" #18 and continuously thwarted his father's plans for world conquest with the help of the SIS's many agents across the globe. Shang-Chi would work with members of the agency for nearly a decade until his father's eventual death in 1982's "Master of Kung Fu" #118. 

Black Jack Tarr

Shang-Chi's journey through the ranks of MI6 was not a simple one, however. After Smith revealed his father's true nature in "Special Marvel Edition" #15, Shang-Chi visited his mother in America to find out if what Smith had told him was true. 

After his mother confirmed the news, Shang-Chi broke into his father's New York City compound and declared that he would not stop until he had ended his father's dreams of conquest. Shang-Chi wouldn't encounter MI6 again until Sir Denis Nayland Smith decided to send one of his best agents, Jack Tarr, to apprehend the young martial arts master in "Master of Kung Fu" #17. 

Nicknamed "Black Jack," Tarr was a veteran of the British Army when he was recruited by MI6 to serve in Hong Kong and later join Smith's fight against his archenemy. With years of experience and a wealth of combat training under his belt, Tarr was a natural choice for Smith's team. Though the pair fought when they first met, Tarr and the young martial arts master would soon develop a solid friendship as Black Jack proved himself to be one Shang-Chi's most trusted allies. 

Sir Clive Reston

Of the many MI6 agents that Shang-Chi worked with during the war against his father's criminal empire, Sir Clive Reston proved to be one of the most dependable. Introduced in "Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu" #3, Reston would aid the young martial artist throughout his entire campaign, and after they finally finished dismantling the villain's attempts to conquer the world, the pair would work together to form "Freelance Restorations" in "Master of Kung Fu" #95, a private-security firm established to combat rampant corruption within the intelligence agency they once served. 

Though rights-related issues kept the creators from saying so outright, "All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z: Update" #2 makes it clear that Reston was written as the descendent of two of the United Kingdom's most famous fictional characters: uber-spy James Bond and master detective Sherlock Holmes. The writers implied that 007 was Reston's father, from whom Clive inherited a "love of terrible puns." Mr. Holmes, on the other hand, was supposedly his great-uncle and the reason why Reston enjoyed smoking pipes. 

Leiko Wu

Clive Reston and Shang-Chi's work in MI6 would soon be disrupted by the introduction of MI6 agent Leiko Wu in 1975's "Master of Kung Fu" #33. Reston and Wu used to be lovers before Leiko left Clive for another agent named Simon Bretnor who was secretly a double agent code-named "Mordillo." Leiko discovered his treachery and helped MI6 defeat Bretnor, whose loosening grip on sanity led him to adopt the name "Death-Hand." 

After returning to MI6, Leiko began working directly alongside both Reston and Shang-Chi, an assignment that soon produced a great deal of tension as Leiko and the young martial artist began to fall in love. Once MI6 finally defeated Shang-Chi's villainous father in "Master of Kung Fu" #89, however, the young martial artist decided to leave the agency and retire to the quiet life of a fisherman. Unwilling to leave her role as a spy, however, Wu stayed behind, and the couple broke up. In the years that followed, Leiko and Reston would eventually rekindle their old romance and finally marry, as revealed in "Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu" #1 and 2. 

Shen Kuei, the Cat

Though Shang-Chi did not know it, "Black" Jack Tarr was just the first of many enemies that the young martial artist would eventually turn into his friends. 

The next would turn out to be another young man named Shen Kuei, who went by the alias "Cat," and had a depiction of the animal tattooed on his chest in manner not dissimilar to Iron Fist's dragon. An agent operating in Hong Kong on behalf of the People's Republic of China, Kuei first met Shang-Chi as enemies in "Master of Kung Fu" #38 when they fought over the blueprints of a neutron bomb. 

Shang-Chi defeated Cat and, to the spy's great surprise, did not kill him as he expected. This noble act moved Shen Kuei, and the two became friends, teaming up multiple times over the years, especially after Kuei left China to become a freelance agent for hire. Though the two would come to blows again on several occasions, the martial artists always held each other in high regard and would eventually both work as Heroes for Hire alongside Luke Cage and Iron Fist. 

Skull-Crusher

Shang-Chi would soon meet another enemy he would befriend years later. Introduced in "Master of Kung Fu" #61, Chao Sima was a Triad assassin who earned the nickname "Skull-Crusher" thanks to his deadly use of his signature weapons: steel balls bound to his wrists via long chains. Hired to kill Shang-Chi, the pair would battle multiple times over the years, with Shang-Chi always emerging the victor. 

Their relationship would radically change years later in "Deadly Hands of Kung Fu" #2 and 3, however, when Shang-Chi discovered that Chao Sima and Leiko Wu had fallen in love. After leaving her estranged husband, Reston, Leiko was deployed by MI6 as an undercover agent in Skull-Crusher's Triad clan. Wu worked closely with Sima and inspired a change of heart within him. Unfortunately, the couple's love proved short-lived, as Leiko was eventually discovered and murdered by the White Dragon. 

Vowing revenge, Skull-Crusher asked Shang-Chi for help, knowing of the hero's love for Leiko. Although initially distrustful, Shang-Chi eventually agreed to help the former villain confront and defeat the White Dragon. In a bizarre series of events, however, Skull-Crusher ultimately sacrificed both himself and the White Dragon in a ritual that resurrected Leiko Wu, allowing him one last kiss from his beloved before he departed for the afterlife. 

Spider-Man

Throughout his career, Shang-Chi has worked with many of Marvel's heroes, but perhaps his single greatest super-heroic friendship lies with none other than Peter Parker himself, Spider-Man. 

The two heroes first met in 1974's "Giant-Size Spider-Man" #2 when Shang-Chi's villainous father tricks the two crime-fighters into a deadly battle. Both convinced that the other is a murderous villain, the heroes fight to a stand-still until Spider-Man finally realizes they've been duped and convinces Shang-Chi of his innocence by refusing to fight any further. United at last, the pair team-up to stop the latest scheme of Shang-Chi's father and send the villain packing once again. 

This adventure is but the first of many meetings between the two heroes and is the start of a friendship that continues to this day. During the Daredevil-focused "Shadowlands" event, Shang-Chi helps Peter keep Mister Negative from expanding his criminal empire in "Shadowland: Spider-Man" #1. Later, during 2011's "Spider Island" event, a virus begins granting people across Manhattan the same powers and abilities of Spider-Man, including Shang-Chi. In Amazing Spider-Man #654, Peter releases a device that destroys the Spider-Sense of every infected person on the island.

Robbed of this sixth sense, Spider-Man's fighting takes a drastic turn for the worse until Amazing Spider-Man #666, when Shang-Chi begins training his old friend in the way of martial arts. Working together, the two heroes develop a new fighting style they call the "Way of the Spider," allowing Peter to survive his super-heroic adventures until his Spider-Sense eventually returned. 

Heroes for Hire

Trained for a decade in the mythical city of K'un-Lun, Danny Rand seized the heart of a dragon to become the Iron Fist. Illegally experimented on by a mad scientist while imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, Carl Lucas used his newfound super-strength and unbreakable skin to reinvent himself as Luke Cage. Together, they are the Heroes for Hire, one of the only super-powered private detective agencies in the world. 

As Marvel's two premiere martial-arts heroes, it's not surprising that Shang-Chi is often paired with Iron Fist. The two first met in 1976's "Master of Kung Fu Annual" #1, when Daniel enlists Shang-Chi's help to rescue Colleen Wing. The two team-up again in "Deadly Hands of Kung Fu" #29 when a villain holds the entire British Parliament hostage in an attempt to force the two martial arts masters to fight to the death. 

Hired to retrieve a statue from the lawless city of Madripoor, the Heroes for Hire recruit Colleen Wing, Wolverine, Shen Kuei (Cat), and Shang-Chi in 1998's "Heroes for Hire" #18. Together, they successfully retrieve the statue and foil a warlord's attempt to conquer China, though the private detective agency would disband after they returned to the US in 1999's "Heroes for Hire" #19. Despite this adventure, Shang-Chi wouldn't actually meet Luke Cage until years later in 2006's "Black Panther" #11 when the young martial arts master and Luke Cage helped save T'Challa from an arranged marriage to one of Shang-Chi's siblings.

Marvel Knights

When his solo comic book series, "Master of Kung Fu," finally ended with issue #125 in 1983, Shang-Chi began a long era in which his only appearances consisted of cameos, brief team-ups, and stints on super-powered teams. After briefly working with the Heroes for Hire, Shang-Chi found his next super-hero team alongside Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. 

Though initially a simple branding initiative featuring Marvel's more street-level superheroes in adult-oriented stories, "Marvel Knights" eventually received its own self-titled ongoing series that featured a team of heroes brought together by Daredevil in order to finally deal with the murderous vigilante known as the Punisher. 

Formed in 2000's "Marvel Knights" #1, the initial team included Shang-Chi, Black Widow, and Dagger, though other heroes like Moon Knight, Doctor Strange, and Luke Cage would later join or aid the team. Though Daredevil's team would never receive an official name, they continued to work together until the series' end with "Marvel Knights" #15, fighting a number of other threats even after they finished with the Punisher. 

The Daughters of the Dragon

Raised by her grandfather in the way of the Samurai, Colleen Wing put her swordsmanship to use to avenge his death at the hands of a Hong Kong crime lord. When New York City Police Officer Misty Knight lost her right arm while saving civilians from a live explosive, Tony Stark outfitted her with a new bionic arm as thanks for her heroic actions. Together, they are best friends known throughout the world as the Daughters of the Dragon.

Longtime allies of both Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the two heroines decided to take on their Heroes for Hire title during the 2006 event, "Civil War." To form the team, Wing and Knight initially recruited the Black Cat, Tarantula, Humbug, and Shang-Chi in 2006's "Heroes for Hire" #1. The team helped Iron Man defeat Captain America during the Civil War, and after it was over, was contracted by Tony Stark to find and arrest any superhumans who refused to register with the government in accordance with a new law. 

Shang-Chi eventually began a toxic romance with Tarantula that would prove as short-lived as the team's existence. When Humbug betrayed the team during the "World War Hulk" event in 2007, he captured and tortured Tarantula, leading Shang-Chi to kill him in a cold rage in "Heroes for Hire" #15. Filled with remorse, Shang-Chi left the team, and the new Heroes for Hire disbanded in the same issue. 

The Avengers

Shang-Chi would eventually find his next team in the Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes — though it took a couple tries to get there. 

His first encounter with the team happened in 2010 and 2011's "Secret Avengers" #6-10. When Steve Rogers' covert-ops branch of the Avengers discovers that a group of villains known as the Shadow Council are attempting to resurrect Shang-Chi's villainous father, the former Captain America asks the Master of Kung Fu for help in defeating them.

Rogers' team of Secret Avengers includes Sharon Carter, the Beast, Ant-Man, the Black Widow, Valkyrie, Moon Knight, and War Machine, and together, they help Shang-Chi discover that his father's real identity is Zheng Zhu, a powerful and immortal sorcerer. The Avengers ultimately defeat the Shadow Council and ensure that Zheng Zhu is not resurrected this time. 

Shang-Chi would officially join the main Avengers team in 2013's "Avengers" #1 by Jonathon Hickman. Feeling the need to reform the Avengers bigger and better than ever, Captain America and Iron Man recruit a large team of heroes that includes Shang-Chi among its many members. Outfitted by Tony Stark with high-tech versions of traditional Chinese weaponry, the martial arts master would help the Avengers defeat such threats as the Garden in "Avengers" #1-3 and both the Builders and Thanos during the 2013 event "Infinity." 

The Protectors and the Agents of Atlas

When a group of aliens attempt to kidnap the people of earth to create feeding colonies in "Totally Awesome Hulk" #16, FBI Agent Jimmy Woo, SHIELD Agent Jake Oh, Ms. Marvel, Amadeus Cho, Silk, and Shang-Chi join forces to protect them. After they defeat the aliens, the six heroes decide to stay together as a team and officially adopt the name "The Protectors." 

When the Dark Elf Malekith invades earth during the 2019 "War of the Realms" event, Jimmy Woo (recently played by Randall Park in "WandaVision") convinces several of his Protectors teammates to join the Agents of Atlas. Formed in "War of the Realms: The New Agents of Atlas" #1-4, the Agents are a team of heroes who work for the Atlas Foundation, a secret society based in Asia that Woo inherited and decided to use for the good of mankind. The team quickly received their own, self-titled miniseries that ended in 2020 with "Agents of Atlas" #5. 

The Five Weapons Society and its House Champions

In 2020, Shang-Chi finally achieved the first solo series he had received in decades. Simply titled "Shang-Chi," the series ran for five issues and introduced several new characters and concepts for the hero, including several new siblings who were all battling to control the Five Weapons Society, the deadly criminal organization of Shang-Chi's father, Zheng Zhu. 

Though initially formed to protect China, the society had since been twisted by Zheng Zhu's plans for world conquest, and included many of the secret organizations that Shang-Chi had fought over the years, including the Orders of the Si-Fan, the Golden Dawn, and the Hai Dai.

With their leader now dead, however, the society's five houses, each devoted to a different weapon, all elected champions to fight to decide who would lead the new organization. When all was said and done, Shang-Chi emerged victorious in "Shang-Chi" #5 and pledged to repurpose his father's criminal organization and return it to its noble roots by using it for the good of all mankind.