When Marvel brought back Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, a couple of years ago, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because, as a child I had read those comics second- (or third-) hand Saturdays while watching Kung Fu Theater on TV and I loved the action. Nervous because when I re-read them as an adult I was shocked at how racist they were. The 2014 version of Shang Chi dialed down some of the racism, but couldn’t complete divorce itself of all of it.
A lot of the promotional material for Intertwined reminded me of Deadly Hands and that nervousness returned with the excitement. I should not have been nervous. Three issues in and this book has many nuanced characters who are struggling to balance their lives with the new responsibilities of being the spirits of the elements.
And kick ass.
Much of issue number 3 focuses on Juan Jin’s predecessor as the Spirit of the Earth. Mainly how he was trapped, defeated and killed. I am still a little fuzzy on the power of the Spirit of the Earth. (My primary understanding of Chinese cosmology comes from Avatar: the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra.) But the final fight of the previous Spirit of the Earth is exciting.
The expertise of the old Spirit of the Earth is a great contrast with Juan Jin, who is trying to figure out just what he can do with these powers. I also loved how that meshed with the struggles of Leah as she is just trying to find a place where she fits in.
The art and storytelling complement each other very well. Fabrice Sapolsky (One Hit Wonder, Spider-Man Noir) and Fred Pham Chuong play off each other’s strengths. Both are expressive and kinetic when needed. But they also know when to let a scene take it’s time to play out.
The expressive way that Juan uses Wing Chun does recall Bruce Lee. But while there are references to Bruce Lee, Juan is his own character and more flawed that Lee was in any of his movies. I really enjoy watching Juan overcome those flaws on his way to be worthy of becoming the Spirit of the Earth. The biggest mystery I am left with in this issue is which spirit fixed Juan’s window between issue 2 and 3.
Writer: Fabrice Sapolsky
Art: Fred Pham Chuong
Color: Veronica R. Lopez
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment