Saving the world doesn't necessarily mean you go home happy. How's the mental health of your favorite superhero? A comic aficionado and a board-certified psychiatrist look at the various neuroses of your favorite heroes and villains and provide options for treatment.
Issue 132 - Shang-Chi
Thanks to new Mayor patron Blaize
Shang-Chi created by Steve Engleheart & Jim Starlin in Special Marvel Edition #15 (Dec. 1973)
Shang-Chi introduced as the son of Fu Manchu, an evil sorcerer bent on world domination - his white mother was chosen based on her genetics - Shang was raised to be an assassin and serve his father, but on his first mission to kill one of his father’s rivals, he has a change of conscience, and discovers his father is the true evil
Early stories largely based around defeating his father’s henchmen and doing everything he can to stop him - also based heavily in racist Yellow Peril tropes
Often teamed up with other martial artists, like White Tiger, Iron Fist, and Daughters of the Dragon
After finally destroying his father’s organization, he retired to become a fisherman, but was drawn out to assist former colleagues at MI-6
Joined the Marvel Knights, run by Daredevil, to take down the Punisher and his extrajudicial killings
Joined the second iteration of Heroes for Hire during Civil War, and began a relationship with Tarantula, although it was over quickly due to her violent tendencies
Joined the Secret Avengers to help track down his father, who had been resurrected again
Gained spider powers during the Spider-Island event, but when he mutated into a spider, Iron Fist used his chi powers to cure him
Joined other Asian heroes in the Protectors and the Agents of Atlas - together they fought Sindr, Ismenios, and other villains
Later became the Supreme Commander of the Five Weapons Society, his father’s old organization, but vowed to use it for good - this put him in conflict with other members of the group, but several of them allied to his cause
Was temporarily the host of the Phoenix Force when it was seeking someone new, but when he refused to kill Captain America in battle, the Phoenix rejected him and left his body
Tracked down his half-sister, who had left the society, and convinced her to return
Dealing with having a mass murdering villain for a father
No childhood outside of training (15:45)
Raised thinking the Western world was horrible & out to get him (23:24)
In-universe - Help him hone energy sensing abilities
Out of universe - Address cultural differences, and meet the patient where they are without being condescending (38:16)
DOC: Hello Shang-Chi, I’m Dr. Issues.
SHANG-CHI: Greetings, doctor.
D: I’d tell you to make yourself comfortable, but it seems you’ve already done that.
SC: Comfort is a luxury seldom offered, and even more rarely accepted. Forgive me if this ironically makes you uncomfortable.
D: No, it’s fine. We don’t have a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign out front for a reason. This is a place for calm and peace.
SC: I am sure you mean well, and truly believe that. But sadly, Doctor, wherever I go, chaos follows me like a tail attached to a cat, and I am certain this office will be no different.
D: That must be difficult to deal with.
SC: I long ago accepted my fate. My father’s influence is far-reaching, and even without him, there are many who would seek to usurp the title of Master of Kung-Fu. Even as I agreed to meet with you, I pondered whether there was a chance this was a trap for a sneak attack.
D: I’m certainly glad you trusted me enough to come here, for what it’s worth. What made you finally agree?
SC: I spoke to some trusted associates who have been clients of yours. Their experience and faith in you was enough to convince me.
D: So now that you’re here, what do you want to discuss?
SC: At this point in my life, I am trying to transition my path to one of less fighting. However, as I said, so much of what I do involves martial arts that this seems impossible.
D: No forks in the road. That’s one way to look at it. I’ll pause on that because I see on your face that there is more to it.
SC: I know that you think I am being blind to other options, but it is not as you say. I have taken service jobs. I have been a teacher of the craft. I do not wish to abandon all that I know for the sake of comfort. And still...something haunts me. Other noble heroes invite me. If I am not asked first, then I am chosen as a consequence. I am thankful that I have survived so far, and I do not fear death. But there is this pestering essence that the world does not accept me as I am.
D: That’s...heavy. It’s rare that I’m taken aback by someone due to their eloquence. I have to admit, I got lost in it!
SC: Forgive me if I am rude, but your statement itself is an example of it.
D: I’m still lost.
SC: You said I speak well.
D: *pause* OH MY GOD I AM SO SORRY I DID THAT I’VE HAD IT DONE TO ME I AM AN IDIOT I WOULD NEVER MEAN TO DO THAT ON PURPOSE I
SC: *laughs* Your chi is genuine. But do you realize how common that is, how through no forethought, we are verbally sparring? I know that is how it will be for the rest of my life. At least, that’s how I perceive it.
D: Perception is reality. I won’t hide my mistakes, and I’m thankful for your latitude. But that tells me your experiences have been way more hostile than a random faux pas.
SC: You have quickly redeemed yourself. Yes, there are blatant examples that happen. How am I supposed to grant grace to those who don’t do the same? Unfortunately, my father did me no favors. I carried a similar yoke of disdain across my shoulders for those I only knew through his eyes. I am grateful for my enlightenment so many years ago as a young man. But I feel those same shackles weighing down those around me when they see me, not knowing what to make of me, what to say, fearful or angry and not even understanding why.
D: It’s not your - or anyone’s - singular purpose to enlighten every individual. You’ll make yourself feel worse that way. Focus on the successes, be they one or one million.
SC: You know, it’s not just the common man. I was chosen by the Phoenix Force once. I fought Captain America. I had proven myself ...but because I showed grace, I was eliminated by Phoenix itself. Still...I would make that decision again.
D: A worthwhile and rigorous process is the true path, regardless of the outcome. Thank you for reminding me of what my own Attendings taught me. But using a great thought process, even when all emotions say to ignore it, that’s true mastery.
SC: It is fair to say we understand one another so far.
D: Oh believe me, it’s hard for me to keep my chill when someone calls me a
SC: *cuts him off* Wait.
SC: Something is amiss.
D: I don’t -
SC: Silence. *beat* Get down.
*glass shatters* ASSASSIN LEADER: SHANG-CHI! THE WHITE DRAGON CALLS FOR YOUR DEATH!
D: Who’s the White Dragon?
SC: *fighting sounds throughout* Unclear. There have been several with that name. I watched the last one die. Beheaded by my brother. It seems someone new has taken up the mantle.
D: And I thought my family was difficult to deal with…
SC: *to fighters* You all fight well, but in service to a madman. There will be no shame in submitting now. I promise this. But continue to fight me, and you and your master will suffer great pain.
AL: You will join us, Shang-Chi, or die. Either way, the White Dragon Clan will be victorious!
SC: There is no victory in your falsehoods.
D: But there will be a huge insurance claim coming your way!
AL: The doctor is of no consequence! Subdue him or kill him, it is of little matter.
D: I’M OUT!
SC: *more fighting sounds, tapering off* there is no need, doctor.
D: You...just took down a hit squad, while conversing at the same level as your original discourse with me…*random movement sounds* AND YOU’RE FIXING THE ROOM?!!!
SC: I have brought pain and despair to your office. For this, I must apologize.
D: Ok, first off, if we are going to have sessions together, do not apologize for saving my life. Second, if it weren’t insulting to a man of your stature *whispers* and I could afford it *normal* I would hire you as my bodyguard on sight.
SC: Or, I could teach you, in exchange for your psychiatric services. Bartering at it’s finest.