Shang-Chi’s family line just revealed a secret link to MCU villain Dormammu, the terrifying enemy of Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Shang-Chi #4!
Marvel just revealed a secret, subtle connection between Shang-Chi and the Dread Dormammu, the nemesis of Doctor Strange. Marvel Comics is redefining the character of Shang-Chi ahead of his MCU debut next year. Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Dike Ruan are completely rewriting his mythology, forcing Shang-Chi to confront the ghosts and secrets of his past.
At the beginning of the series, it was revealed Shang-Chi’s father, the crime lord Zheng Shu, commanded an organization greater than readers had ever before known. He was master of the Five Deadly Weapons Society, a group divided into five “Houses” – the Deadly Hand, the Dagger, the Sabre, the Hammer, and the Staff. Zheng Shu’s death has left a power vacuum at the top of the Five Deadly Weapons Society, and Shang-Chi may be forced to fill it himself for fear the group becomes even more dangerous. It’s an interesting conceit, and Yang’s story has sent Shang-Chi on a quest to discover the truth of his father’s origin.
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In Shang-Chi #4, Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu encounters the spirit of his long-deceased uncle, Zheng Yi. The ghost recounts the story of his death, back in 1860 during Marvel’s version of the Opium Wars. This war was triggered by Britain’s desire to smuggle opium into China, and it seems in the Marvel Universe the conflict involved the 19th century superheroes of China and Britain. The Five Deadly Weapons Society of the time fought against the British invaders with all their might – but they were in danger of being overwhelmed when the mystic Baron Harkness joined the battle, summoning an army of Mindless Ones in service of his master, the interdimensional entity known as the Dread Dormammu.
The flashback is a fascinating one, and no doubt readers will be eager to learn more about Baron Harkness. He is clearly an ancestor of Agatha Harkness, a dark mystic who has allied with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers on occasion, with specific links to the Scarlet Witch. Drawing power from the Dark Dimensions and summoning Dormammu’s army of mindless servants, Harkness creates a strong link in Shang-Chi’s mythology to the magical worlds of marvel character like Wanda Maximoff and Doctor Strange. It’s a canny move by Yang, which both builds out the lore supporting Shang-Chi’s adventures and more firmly connects him to other marvel properties. And with Shang-Chi set to star in MCU movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it also makes perfect sense to add some other recognizable MCU facets to his backstory in the comics.
Fortunately, Zheng Yi sacrificed himself to give his brother Zheng Shu the raw power to kill Baron Harkness and drive back the army of Mindless Ones. And so the Five Deadly Weapons Society did the job of the Sorcerer Supreme of that time, saving the world from an interdimensional threat. Dormammu would return time and again, of course, often repelled by Doctor Strange, though now readers know about this connection, it’s likely Shang-Chi may face the Lord of the Dark Dimension himself in the near future.
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