Saturday, September 26, 2015

Christmas Has Come Early, Kung Fu Style!!

So, I'm scuffling along, wondering what the hell I can blog about today...
Sweet Georgia Brown!!!

After years of my railing at Marvel/Disney to get the rights back so they could do reprints of Master Of Kung Fu, it has finally happened!!

Why am I so excited? Don't I already own all of these issues? Isn't this just another overpriced reprint package?

Well, first of all, I looove Master Of Kung Fu. For about a decade, it was one of the greatest books Marvel published.

But it was never reprinted (except a couple of stories were reprinted in the B & W mag Deadly Hands of Kung Fu back in the 70s). Many of the characters, including the main villain and Shang-Chi's mentor/boss, were from Sax Rohmer's series of Fu Manchu pulp novels. Once those rights lapsed, reprints were practically impossible, since Fu and Sir Dennis Nayland Smith were in nearly every single issue.

What that means, is that a lot of people out there, unless they're old farts like me, have never had a chance to read these comics, unless they got lucky with some Quarter Bins, or shelled out for some increasingly-expensive back issues. So a large part of my joy is finally getting to have so many more people share in the experience of these comics.

I've waxed on before--many times--about why the book was so fantastic, especially once Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy found their groove of Kung Fu James Bond. The result was simultaneously literate and freakin' insane, which is a combination few comics could pull off--but MOKF did.

The series' main villain was far more evil than even Dr. Doom. Seriously. The series had a deep, rich supporting cast, including the best character to make only 3 appearances in the history of comic books. And also a secret agent who was the son of James Bond and the great-nephew of Sherlock Holmes.

The art on this series...oy, the art. Start with creator Jim Starlin...wander a bit, then throw in a lengthy (but frequently interrupted) run by Paul Gulacy. Follow that with a criminally under-appreciated run by Mike Zeck. Follow that will a run by Gene Day. What the hell!!

And, not for nothing, this was one of the first comic books to feature multiple Asians as heroes and lead characters. And, yes, the concept certainly did have its origins in kung fu exploitation and "yellow peril" menace, but under Moench, it swiftly outgrew that. Of course, one of those Asians was one of the most kick-ass female characters ever--Leiko Wu makes Furiosa look like Aunt May. This book brought diversity to Marvel decades before anyone thought that was important.

So, yeah--great book, hopefully cleaned up art, durable format...please, Marvel, take my money.

But also, did they obtain the right just for reprints? they have the rights to produce new material...? Shhh, keep that to yourself, snell, don't dare to hope out loud...

The announcement was obviously vague--will the omnibi include any of the Deadly Hands stories (none of which I own or have read!!)? Will it include the MAX mini-series by Moench and Gulacy? What about Shang's appearances in Marvel Two-In-One, or Marvel Team-Up? Or ROM?!? (OK, I know that's not happening...) What the hell does "Summer 2016" mean?!? Will there be later, more affordable priced smaller collections so even the brokest of us can enjoy? Single-issues or arcs on Comixology or Marvel Unlimited?

But good days are ahead, my friends. And as we get more information and get closer to release dates, you'll see more and more MOKF stuff around these parts. I named my blog after a throwaway phrase from the series after all, so you can expect that obsession to continue.


Brian Foss said...

wow, how neat!
my only wish is if they print Deadly Hands & MOKF they print it in the right reading order!
but any way you slice it this is great news!

Dixon Kinqade said...

With the advent of the Master of Kung Fu Omnibus and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Omnibus being released this year, the folks over at the Masterworks Message Board were seeking “The Definitive MOKF/DHOKF Chronologic Reading Order”. Since I let them in on the news, I thought I'd share it with you guys too.

I've just completed “THE” Definitive MOKF/DHOKF Chronologic Reading Order and Shang Chi Chronology, as part of a larger project. If you're interested, head on over to: