In Shang-Chi #5, the Master of Kung Fu’s attempts to reform his father’s criminal empire is starting to cost him his family and the Avengers’ trust.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Shang-Chi #5, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
When Shang-Chi first entered the Marvel Universe, he turned his back on his father’s criminal empire, the Five Weapons Society. Now that his progenitor has passed and the Master of Kung Fu has inherited the organization, he has been given the chance to reform the twisted legacy left behind by his father. Try as he might to bring about change for the Five Weapons Society, it looks like old habits die much harder than expected, so much so that Shang-Chi’s own family is now betraying him on two different fronts.
Shang-Chi’s recent dive into the criminal underworld has introduced him to some of its most fantastical sights, as well as some of its most devious players. Still, nothing has been able to dissuade him from his goal of turning the Five Weapons Society into a more benevolent organization. Unfortunately, that hasn’t kept his allies from making some devastating assumptions about Shang-Chi’s allegiances. When another criminal organization brings Shang-Chi a stolen suit of Iron Man armor for sale in Shang-Chi #5 (by Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Triona Farrell, and VC’s Travis Lanham), Tony Stark angrily crashes the party, although the heroic martial artist had been working to find how the armor had been stolen. The fight that ensues isn’t a particularly long one, though it is a stark reminder of just how far Shang-Chi’s reputation has fallen. Even worse is the fact that nothing about their encounter has changed Tony’s mind in the least, as the entire event was a ploy by him to get inside Shang-Chi’s compound in secret.
Tony reveals to the other heroes (who have had recent run-ins of their own with Shang-Chi) that the Five Weapons Society did, in fact, steal the Cosmic Cube that Captain America recently acquired. Although the Master of Kung Fu was not aware that his brother Takeshi was responsible for the theft, the Avengers have no way of knowing this. The heroes assume the worse when Iron Man tells them that the traditionally villainous organization still has possession of the cube. This might all be the fault of Shang-Chi’s overly complicated family life, but his brother isn’t the only one placing him in grave danger.
Shang-Chi has malicious enemies among his family as well, with his sister Zheng Zhilan, aka Deadly Staff, conspiring against him. When Zhilan’s livelihood was put in danger, Shang-Chi wasted no time traveling halfway around the globe to come to her aid. He even put himself between her and Wolverine to allow Zhilan the opportunity to decide for herself what life she wanted to live. With the reassurance that she could always walk away from the family that had scorned her just as it had him, Shang-Chi convinced Zhilan to return home to help him remake the Five Weapons Society into something they could both be proud of. Now it seems that doing so was never really an option for Zhilan, even if her brother hasn’t given her any reason to think of him as a villain. Under the cover of night, Shang-Chi’s most recent enemies gather together to begin their plot against him, and front and center among them all is his sister.
There was always a high possibility of Shang-Chi being betrayed by his family, but Zhilan being among those to turn their backs on him is very surprising. The actions of their other siblings are no surprise, as Takeshi and Esme have always openly embraced the dark nature of the Five Weapons Society, and have only ever really respected Shang-Chi’s place as Supreme Commander when it suited them.
Unlike her siblings, Zhilan was nothing but a hero until her existence as a mutant was discovered. After everything Shang-Chi did to help her, Zhilan aligning herself with his enemies is surely the one thing the Master of Kung Fu won’t see coming.
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