Battleworld: Master of Kung Fu

battleworld master of kung fu cover trade paperback francesco francavilla
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Classic Shang-Chi, solid art

Too short to develop the world and characters, 5 Ronin bonus story

Comic Info

Comic Name:   Master of Kung Fu (Battleworld Limited Series)/5 Ronin

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:   Haden Blackman/Peter Milligan

Artist:   Dalibor Talajic

# of Issues:  5

Release Date:  2015

battleworld master of kung fu #2 cover francesco francavilla art shang chi

Battleworld!: Master of Kung Fu

Reprints Master of Kung Fu (Battleworld Limited Series) #1-4 and 5 Ronin #2 (May 2011-October 2015).  Shang-Chi is a lost soul.  After killing another head of a house, he became a wanted man in K’un Lun.  Now right before the Thirteen Chambers opens, Shang-Chi has resurfaced, and he is challenging his father Emperor Zheng Zu for the right to rule K’un Lun.  The danger is growing and much of K’un Lun wants him dead…but Shang-Chi could be the hero that Kun-L’un needs!

Written by Haden Blackman, Battleworld:  Master of Kung Fu is a spinoff title from the “Big Event” series Secret Wars and features art by Dalibor Talajic.  The collection also features a one-shot issue 5 Ronin #2 (May 2011) written by Peter Milligan and also featuring art by Talajic.

Shang-Chi was a favorite of mine.  He has not “super powers” and is just a master of kung fu with hands that could be considered deadly weapons.  He also proved problematic to the Marvel Universe by being the son of Fu Machu in the comics…and Fu Manchu is no longer in the public domain.  Secret Wars gave Marvel a do-over with the character and it honestly feels like many aspects of the old Shang-Chi are back in this short collection.

The story is a bit of a cluster of Japanese myth stories and movies that is planted solidly in the Marvel Universe.  The idea of a battle for the best is pretty typical in these stories and the Thirteen Chambers feels like an easy idea for the story.  It brings together an interesting collection of characters in the process by having them lead houses…but this is also the story’s weakness.

battleworld master of kung fu #3 cover review francesco francavilla art

Battleworld!: Master of Kung Fu #3

The collection is way too short.  It feels like there needs to be more and more development for the story and the final Thirteen Chambers battle is mostly shown in a two splash page.  The characters Shang-Chi is fighting deserve better than that, but Blackman had to get the story finished in time.  It is a bit frustrating.

While it is linked by the artist Dalibor Talajic (who does a great job here), the 5 Ronin #2 issue feels like a real afterthought.  The 5 Ronin story was kind of interesting and to just give a glimpse of the story to beef up the slim nature of this collection is pretty weak.  Marvel is getting in the habit of doing stuff like this a lot.  While sometimes it benefits the reader, it generally feels like they even realize they don’t have enough material to put out as a trade paperback.

Battleworld:  Master of Kung Fu is a fun quick read, but it is just that…quick.  It needed to be longer and more developed.  In the Secret Wars spinoff series, so many rich worlds with their own mythology were created and they never really got to be explored thoroughly.  I’m sure Marvel someday will do a “Back to Battleworld” event series, but it should have been more planned and sculpted here.  It doesn’t help the writers or artists if their full vision can’t be explored…still…I do love Shang-Chi.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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