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Rising of the gamer geek?!

Checked out the first three hardbound collections of Marvel NOW!'s Avengers (technically, Avengers Vol. 5) from the library; the first eleven issues were written by Jonathan Hickman, but #12-17 were co-written by Nick Spencer.

While I was pleasantly surprised by Hickman's run on Fantastic Four and its spin-off FF (which technically stands for "Future Foundation" instead of merely "Fantastic Four"), his run on the latest reboot of Avengers actually makes me miss Brian Michael Bendis's run -- and I'm pretty ambivalent about Bendis's work as a whole. (However, I did enjoy his work on Alias and The Pulse, which featured his character Jessica Jones, currently the wife of Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man; but it's best not to inquire after Jessica Jones's first two, less than daunting superhero names...) At least Bendis can write snark and sarcasm better than Hickman, and Bendis has a much better handle on Spider-Man's personality than Hickman does, as evinced by Spidey's appearances here.

While I loved Shang-Chi in Master of Kung Fu (he was originally created as the son of Fu Manchu, but his origins have been obscured since Marvel lost the rights to the Sax Rohmer character), I've been less than happy over his resurrection (first as a member of the X-Men's seemingly endless circle of acquaintances and allies); he's a full-time Avenger, not a Secret Avenger, here, which obviates the conclusion of MoKF, where he finally renounced covert (and overt...) action for the "games of deceit and death" that he saw them to be.

Fine, whatever; maybe Iron Fist, Marvel's other premiere martial artist hero, was busy.

What left me gobsmacked, however, was how Adam Kubert, in Avengers Vol. 5, #6 (April 2013), drew Shang-Chi to look like Gabe of Penny Arcade. An absurdly ripped and butch Gabe, but Gabe nonetheless.

First, page 3 of Vol. 5, No. 6; pay particularly close attention to the last two panels, which feature an atypically grinning Shang-Chi offering a baked treat to the latest incarnation of Captain Universe (originally a supporting character for another licensed comic book that Marvel published in the 1970s and 1980s, The Micronauts):
Marvel Now Avengers no 6 pg 3 by Adam Kubert

Next, check out page 7 of Avengers Vol. 5, No. 6, especially the first and third panels:
Marvel Now Avengers no 6 pg 7 by Adam Kubert

For comparison, check out this drawing of Gabe from Penny Arcade's Wikia entry for him:
headshot of Gabe fr Penny Arcade on PA's wikia -- retrieved Sun 30 Mar 2014

Here's a strip that Mike Krahulik ("Gabe") and Jerry Holkins ("Tycho") posted on Forbes.com on 10-24-05:
Gabe & Tycho re Gabe's blog in Penny Arcade -- retrieved Sun 30 Mar 2014

In case you've forgotten what Shang-Chi originally looked like, here is the cover to Master of Kung Fu Vol. 1, #19 (August 1974), whose cover is drawn by Gil Kane (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks); the opponent he's fighting is none other than the mindless muck monster Man-Thing, whose heyday was in the early 1970s (the interior features an uncredited guest appearance by a descendant of Caine, the character that David Carradine played in the 1970s TV show Kung Fu):
cover to Master of Kung Fu Vol 1 no 19

Below is a close-up of Shang by Mike Zeck, who would go on to celebrated stints on Captain America and The Punisher; the cover is for Master of Kung Fu Vol. 1, #86 (March 1980):
cover to Master of Kung Fu Vol 1 no 86 by Mike Zeck

I dunno; comic book artists are notorious for putting swipes and Easter eggs in their pages, and usually that adds to the charm of reading comic books; but depicting Shang-Chi, the "Master of Kung Fu," as the overly excitable, borderline psychopathic Gabe from Penny Arcade is a bridge too far for me.



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