What If... Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu Fought on the Side of Fu Manchu?

It's a best of both worlds situation... or is it?

When SBG Year 4 began, readers voted on which classic 70s-80s series would make up my Saturday morning reading. What If? won hands down, but there was a very vocal contingent who wanted The Hands of Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu. And who can blame them? Though it was not meant to be (YET!), the two series did intersect in issue #16 of What If?, making it one of the few issues that Marvel can no longer afford to reprint in a trade collection (along with the Conan stuff, presumably). The just don't own the rights to Fu Manchu anymore!

Beloved THOSCMOKF writer Doug Moench puts words into the Watcher's mouth, but as with issue 15's Nova stuff, his timeline is a little dodgy. Hey, as long as people get kicked in the face, right?

What If Vol.1 #16 (August 1979)
Based on: Marvel Special Edition #15
The true history: An oblivious Shang-Chi is sent by his evil father Fu Manchu to kill the bed-ridden Petrie. He does so, but is surprised by Sir Denis Nayland Smith who reveals all he knows about Fu Manchu, causing Shang-Chi to turn against his father.
Turning point: What if Shang-Chi took off just a little sooner from the crime scene?
Story type: Momentary difference.
Watcher's mood: Chakras ALIGNED!
Altered history: Shang-Chi doesn't stick around to hear what Sir Denis has to say, but still questions his father about his methods. He's been brought up in a strict Buddhist way and doesn't believe in killing. Fu Manchu tries to spin something about killing killers being all right for the greater good, but Shang-Chi's not that naive. The thought festers. Meanwhile, Sir Denis has assembled the team of Fu Fighters that surrounded OUR Shang-Chi, perhaps much sooner than in our reality, to track down Petrie's killer and step up the war against Fu Manchu. And that means stopping his latest scheme which involves digging up Burmese assassins from an English graveyard to turn them into giant lizard-riding zombies who will attack the Queen of England. Shang-Chi should realize at this point that these aren't the plans of a good man, but then, Nayland Smith's irregulars don't have the glow of holiness about them when they're ripping tombstones from the ground and throwing them at him.
Not that the tactic would work.
Shang-Chi questions his father once again: "Look dad, there was this cute Chinese girl with them and you're raising the dead to attack Buckingham Palace, so like, are we evil or what?" Fu Manchu grounds him, but of course he escapes, and he's none too happy. Dad's gone too far. What is "too far"? This is too far:
Time to go Bruce Lee on SOMEbody's ass.
Shang-Chi barges in and indiscriminately breaks heads, whether they his father's forces or Smith's.
But clearly, it's more about stopping his father. And then the heroes make a grave mistake. They use some good old-fashioned Beef-Heaters to burn the zombies. I mean, they're zombies, right?
That does NOT sit well with Shang-Chi who thinks all life is sacred, even unlife (you may see the flaw in Fu Manchu's plan to raise the perfect assassin now). As in the original story, he tells off his father and vows to fight against him. Then when the heroes try to recruit him, he tells THEM off. They're no better than Fu Manchu, their ways are the ways of DEATH! And off he goes to recruit a supporting cast that maybe isn't as copywritten as these guys are...
Books canceled as a result: None. A change of supporting cast isn't enough to cancel the budding THOSCMOKF (sorry about the phlegm).
These things happen: Shang-Chi never went back to work for Fu Manchu, though he did become a criminal in House of M.

Next week: What if Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel were villains?
My guess: The 90s would have happened in the 70s.


Jeremy Patrick said...

I like that guy lifting a tombstone over his head and launching it at Shang-Chi! I'll have to have a vampire do that next time I direct a Buffy RPG.

Anonymous said...

"digging up Burmese assassins from an English graveyard to turn them into giant lizard-riding zombies who will attack the Queen of England"

Man, Chris Sims has to know it!

Also, we see a Buckingham palace guard using a firethrower! They are clearly prepeared for everything... Beware, IRA banshees!

Siskoid said...

Hahaha, yeah. The Marvel Universe is a dangerous place.


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