REVIEW: ‘Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Gene Luen Yang, art by Marcus To, colors by Erick Arciniega, and letters by Travis Lanham. Shang-Chi finally embraced the Ten Rings as his own after people kept trying to steal them. But in this issue, he is summoned to participate in a tournament to truly become the owner of the rings.

This issue is a blend of the different elements of the series so far while bringing in some more that elevates the comic to massive new heights. The exhilarating martial arts, the glimmers of horror, and the grounded, personal life of Shang-Chi are all there. But Yang has brought a cosmic level to the character’s mythos that seeks to rival Iron Fist and K’un L’un. The story’s premise is simple but brilliant, a set of fights between the fighters for an ultimate prize. This unleashes an action-packed comic that is fast-paced and exhilarating. There is an overarching story arc sparked by the last issue’s finale, where an alien entity possessed Leiko, but the contest heavily dwarfs that. 

There are a lot of characters included in Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4 to fill the tournament, and the choices are interesting. They are all included in Shang’s rogue’s gallery, highlighting Yang’s extensive research. I have noticed that the world of this story is kept within the Shang-Chi section of the Marvel Universe. It may have been cool to see external figures involved, but it is an excellent way of demonstrating the characters from Masters of Kung-Fu and other Shang stories. There is dominant, almost constant posturing from every character involved, magnified by the inclusion of extremely powerful artifacts that alters their standings against each other. Shang is an interesting character in this series as he is relatively humble, knows how good he is, and is quiet when he fights. There are also these unknown quantities, namely the powerful, lion-faced being controlling the rings and the whole tournament. 

The art contains some of the best fights in current comics. To capture the high-octane battles, imbuing them with energy. There is a vast variety in the characters brought to the tournament. These characters are barely changed from how they looked in previous Shang-Chi comics, just updated into a more modern art style. Shang-Chi’s movement is fantastic, with ghosts showing where he’s just been. Each fighter brings different weapons or tricks with them, and it makes each bout unique. And it isn’t as if the fights are one-panel glimpses. Instead, they are given time to unfold. While most of the fight scenes are clean, the freaky, skin-crawling Wyrm possessing Leiko remains, which adds a small amount of horror to the otherwise positive comic. Then there are the strange but cool-looking game administrators.

The colors are also unique. The textures are very clean, and the colors are smooth and vibrant, making the issue stunning. The naturalistic lighting is often interrupted by the magical items, and the effects of opening portals and the glowing rings on their surroundings create some beautiful filters on the panels. The lettering is great for much of the issue, although some custom word balloons can be too complicated in their fonts, affecting how easy they are to read.

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4 is an energetic adventure. What makes this comic shine is the constant elevation of the story, bringing in new strands to Shang-Chi’s mythos and the legend of the Ten Rings. It expands the series into untold histories while still heavily focused on martial arts, and there is still time for Shang’s attempt at a love life. And the comic is also intensified by the incredible art that comes to life when the characters are in motion and fighting. It gives the comic a permanent forward motion and a real sense of speed.

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4
4.5

TL;DR

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #4 is an energetic adventure. What makes this comic shine is the constant elevation of the story, bringing in new strands to Shang-Chi’s mythos and the legend of the Ten Rings. It expands the series into untold histories while still heavily focused on martial arts, and there is still time for Shang’s attempt at a love life.

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