Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WHATEVER THE HELL THIS SHANG-CHI COMIC IS

"¡Poc!"

I harbor a minor fascination with foreign editions of American comic books. I own a few copies of Editions Lug's "Strange," a (largely) Marvel reprint volume most notable for the painted covers recreating the original lineart American covers. I've also got some German Star Comics digests, combining the structurally antagonistic Avengers stories from the 1970s with Jerry Siegel-penned Mighty Crusaders stories from the 1960s. Lastly, I've got a few Australian Adventure Comics and a stack of British black-and-white/monochrome reprint mags, plus a Spanish-language issue of Daredevil (aka ¡Diabolico, Destructor del Crimen!) I picked up in Nogales when I was ten and failed to take particularly good care of, so now it's primarily ash and unidentifiable liquid.

But nothing has prepared me for KUNG FU, an apparently original hisorieta starring Shang-Chi and, as near as I can tell, properly licensed from Marvel and everything. The same folks who clamor for reprints of the Batman and Spider-Man manga are right to be absolutely silent about getting English-language editions of this book.

 I'll admit that part of the problem is that I definitely don't speak Spanish. This has embarrassed me for years, seeing as how I spent literally half of my life in Tucson, Arizona. That being said, I have an amazing command of Spanglish. Any cab driver who doesn't swoon at the mellifluous utterance of "Vamanos to el hotel, por favor!" has no poetry in his soul.

I think she's asking where the library is.  

So, KUNG FU No.6 - only dos pesos! - might actually be an issue of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, directly translated to Spanish. My knowledge of that particular series is sporadic at best -- I recall an issue where Shang-Chi gets into an argument with a beat cop about jaywalking, and then not much else, which just goes to show that I may have failed to focus on the "kung fu" part of the story.

What I can discern from the story is that Shang-Chi is approached on an abandoned street by a terrified blonde girl, they immediately fall in love (Ah, historietas, how you pace), then thugs show up and Shang-Chi continues kissing the girl for a while as they mill about. Then he kicks their asses.

Usually it goes the other way. This is literally halfway through the book, and I couldn't tell you much more about the plot at this point, but our blonde mystery girl can -- relating "un extra├▒o relato" (that much I got), she occupies the next several pages explaining to Shang-Chi the backstories of the men he beat insensate on the streets. This leads Shang to the isolated fortress of "El Baron von Klaus," who's done up in that horrible orange color which comic book asians had to endure in the Forties.

"But, more importantly, how do I get to the library?" 

It turns out that the blonde girl in question is somehow aligned with El Baron. For that offense, Shang-Chi kicks everyone's asses and then she gets a bunch of spanks from a dude, I don't know who he is.

Now THIS part I understand!

I don't think I'm extrapolating overmuch when I suggest that this may not have been a very good comic even if I could understand it, BUT the lack of comprehension does lend it an air of mystery. As does the sole page of advertising within the book. If comics survive on advertising income, then the cost of manufacturing this book must have been "free."

Finally, one stop shopping for monster hands and cup-and-ball games, just like Michael's Crafts!
I will say, whatever this comic's evident shortcomings in terms of artwork or pacing or whatever the hell's going on in it, it's refreshing that it's clearly intended for kids. Kids who are big fans of spanking fetishes, more than likely, but kids nonetheless.

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