Superstars, Scoop, Friday, August 16, 2002
It was the 1970s, and everyone was kung- fu fighting, or so the song went. Marvel Comics jumped on the martial arts bandwagon with Shang-chi, Master of Kung-Fu. The character was the product of writer Steve Englehart, penciller Jim Starlin and inker Al Milgrom in the pages Special Marvel Edition #15-16 (it became Master of Kung-Fu with #17). Arist Paul Gulacy came on the scene with #18, joined by writer Doug Moench on the second half of issue #20.
It was Gulacy and Moench who made the character their own. Moench went on to write almost the entire run of the series, but despite outstanding later work by Mike Zeck and Gene Day, it is his run with Gulacy that elicits the most enthusiastic response.
They went on to do two Six From Sirius mini-series at Epic, Sci-Spy at DC/Vertigo and other projects over the years, but they hadn't returned together to Shang-Chi.
When Marvel announced that the duo would be reuniting for a new Master of Kung-Fu series under the MAX imprint (with inker Jimmy Palmiotti joining the team), many wondered if the proverbial lightning could strike twice.
“Veteran readers can expect more of that Moench-Gulacy magic that made Shang-Chi a cult classic during their historic run. Readers unfamiliar with the Master of Kung Fu-and we're hoping that a new generation does join us for this action-packed espionage adventure-should watch out for flying feet, spectacular stunts and fearsome femme fatales. And since this new series is being produced under the MAX Comics banner, everyone should get ready for the unexpected!” Marvel's Bill Rosemann told The Scoop.
The Scoop also talked with series inker Jimmy Palmiotti about that and working with Moench and Gulacy.
SCOOP: Were you a fan of the original series?
Palmiotti: Totally. When it came out, it was the one book besides Killraven that I bought like religion. I was a big fan of Jim Steranko, so when I first saw Paul's work, I flipped out. Here was a guy doing that same type of detail and style, but on a monthly basis. The other thing that I loved about the book was all the James Bond type stuff it introduced. It was really like a great Bond series starring Sean Connery and Bruce Lee.
You inked Gulacy on Sci-Spy at Vertigo. What else have you worked with him on?
We first worked together on a 5-issue Legends of the Dark Knight run, a follow-up to the original “Prey” storyline. Paul liked what I was doing over his work and asked me if I would be interested in doing Sci-Spy for Vertigo. I love the people in that office and any chance I have to work with Paul again was a blessing. We did that and [Marvel editor] Axle [Alonzo] came up with the Master of Kung-Fu job. So far, so good. I think this is Paul's best work to date, as well as mine.
Do you think this new incarnation will appeal to fans of the old series? How about new readers?
Doug is setting the story in such a way that new and old readers can jump right into the action and get what the series is about. It's really a simple premise to grab on to. I think the new readers will be blown away mostly by the art. Paul Gulacy and [colorist] Paul Mounts are really making this a visual feast.
It seemed like you were everywhere this year at Comic-Con International: San Diego, with Beautiful Killer at Black Bull, Master of
Kung-Fu at Marvel, Sci-Spy at Vertigo, Resistance and 21 Down at WildStorm, and Pro at Image. What was your reaction to the show?
It was packed with a lot of people. I wish I could say there were more comic people, but I think the show is less about comics and more of an entertainment event. I am hoping some new people were drawn into our little world, but that remains to be seen. Overall, I think it's a huge success, and I hope the con people set aside more space for new artists next year. We need to make sure the convention stays focused and lives up to the title “comic-con.”