Marvel’s Shang-Chi has just uncovered a lost chapter in his family’s history, and it changes everything he thought he knew about his greatest enemy.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Shang-Chi #7, available now from Marvel Comics.
Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, has always struggled with his legacy. As his father Zheng Zu’s most promising fighter, Shang-Chi became disillusioned with the bloody path laid out before him. As a hero, he has done everything he can to reshape the reputation of his family. Most recently, Shang-Chi has taken it upon himself to even try and reform the deadly Five Weapons Society he inherited in the wake of his father’s death. However, the Master of Kung Fu has just discovered that he isn’t the first to attempt such a feat, and the revelation connects him to his family history in a way that he never could have imagined.
Ever since taking control of the Five Weapons Society, Shang-Chi’s life has been a whirlwind revelations and betrayals. This isn’t unexpected considering the nature of his father’s organization, but it is still uncomfortable territory for the Master of Kung Fu. Thankfully, the reappearance of his long lost mother Jiang Li has helped ease some of that tension. As she explains in Shang-Chi #7 (by Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Triona Farrell, and VC’s Travis Lanham), the titular hero’s apprehensions are somewhat misplaced. From what Shang-Chi has seen, his father’s criminal empire is in desperate need of reformation, and Jiang explains that her son isn’t the first to try to change the direction of the group.
Jiang tells Shang-Chi that when she first met Zheng Zu, he was on the verge of death following a pirate attack and desperately needed help. Although he was an outsider, Jiang refused to leave him to die. It was this act that led her to eventually flee her home with Zheng Zu after she was ordered by her people to kill him.
Shortly thereafter, Jiang discovered the truth of the Five Weapons Society. The man she had saved and fallen in love with was revealed to be the ruler of a sprawling criminal empire. However, Zheng’s love for Jiang was greater than his dedication to his organization. The father that Shang-Chi had only ever known as a bloodthirsty tyrant was once far more focused on caring for his family than expanding his grip over the rest of the world. Shang might not want to believe it, but there was a time when he and his family were the only things Zheng Zu cared about. This revelation has cast the classic Marvel villain in an entirely new light.
Zheng Zu’s cruelty was the driving force behind Shang-Chi initially turning against his father and has propelled him into the life of a hero ever since. While Zheng Zu’s legacy is still shrouded in darkness, this new revelation has changed everything Shang-Chi thought he knew about his family. Zheng Zu may have died a villain, but this sheds light on a glimmer of humanity that existed within the father of the Master of Kung Fu.
As Shang-Chi continues to struggle with his legacy, this paints his father as much more than a simple, one-dimensional villain. This reveals that Zheng Zu was actually a caring husband and father at one point, and may be the inspiration the Master of Kung Fu needs to convert the Five Weapons Society into a more benevolent organization.
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