Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Groove's Faves: "What if Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, Had Remained Loyal to Fu Manchu?" by Moench and Hoberg

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Today we're gonna look at a fave that might never again see print--the fabled What If...? #16's (May 1979) "What If Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, had Remained Loyal to Fu Manchu?" by Doug Moench and Rick Hoberg (with inks by Bill Wray and the late, great creator of the Rocketeer, Dave Stevens). Not only has this one been left out of Marvel's recent What If...? Classic reprint tpb series, but it's also (sadly and/or ironically) one of the best What If...? tales of the whole Groovy Age series.

It's no secret that Moench is one of the best comicbook writers ever, but MoKF was his baby--nay, his masterpiece, so editor Roy Thomas had the good sense to hire Moench to write this twisted What If...? tale. Who but Moench could make Shang-Chi and his cast so different--and yet stay so true to the characterization of the regular M.U. series?  And while Rick Hoberg hadn't drawn any issues of MoKF (his art appeared mostly in--you guessed it--What If...?), he certainly pulled out all the stops on this double-length tale. Inkers Wray and Stevens--superb artists themselves--lent Hoberg's pencils the proper mood needed to make this very special What If...? story really work. Ready? Set? Enjoy!


  1. Wow, this brings back memories; this is actually the first Shang Chi story I ever read. I found it so fascinating that I immediately started reading the regular title, and since I discovered a comic shop about a year later, I even managed to snag a few of those earlier issues penciled by Gulacy.
    And yes, this was truly one of the best issues of the entire What IF?, and I think that's saying quite a bit, as that series had quite a few outstanding stories.

  2. Wow ... It was Master of Kung Fu that got me interested in Fu Manchu and other vintage thrillers. (The whole Bronze Age revitalized interest in the pulps and their slightly-more-respectable brethren.) And this story is just fabulous!

  3. He certainly did a credible Paul Gulacy impression on the cover. Awesome story. Doug Moench is a writing madman. So many comics I've loved over the years have turned out to have his byline. I miss "What If...?"



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