If It’s Good, It’s a Marvel

Sean Howe’s book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, will be out next week. The lengthy excerpt published at Grantland is a blast —

On Friday nights, Englehart and Starlin stayed in and watched television. They had become rabid fans of ABC’s Kung Fu, which starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk in the Old West who alternated between Eastern philosophizing and ass-kicking. They approached Roy Thomas about doing a Kung Fu adaptation for Marvel, but the show was produced by Warner Bros. — DC Comics’ corporate parent — so they created their own concept: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. “I was already doing Doctor Strange, which represented the Western mystical philosophy,” Englehart recalled. “I really saw Shang-Chi as a chance to do the Eastern mystical philosophy, albeit with a more action-oriented hero than Doctor Strange.” In that spirit, he and Alan Weiss settled on Shang-Chi’s name, which meant “the rising advancing of the spirit,” by throwing the I Ching and mixing and matching hexagrams. Then Thomas, who’d secured the rights to Sax Rohmer’s pulp-novel Fu Manchu character, suggested they incorporate martial arts into a Fu Manchu comic. So Shang-Chi became the son of Fu Manchu, who learns his father’s evil secret and dedicates himself to fighting him. The mix of philosophy and ass-kicking was perfect for an era that embraced Passages and Walking Tall.

1 thought on “If It’s Good, It’s a Marvel

  1. This is the Marvel Comics spirt of originality that we’d come to love, at its best!

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