Tag: Master of Kung Fu

With Further Ado #188: Seeing Gulacy On Screen in The Batman

With Further Ado #188: Seeing Gulacy On Screen in The Batman

As is often the case, fandom at large is hip deep in analyzing, and arguing about, The Caped Crusader’s latest cinematic outing.  I saw The Batman on opening night, and one of the best aspects was how energized the audience was.  It’s invigorating when “everyone” gets excited for a movie about a favorite character.   For me, it’s less important whether I loved it or hated it. I get happy when everyone else gets happy about it.

Another one of the most amazing things about this movie, upon reflection, was how the cinematic Catwoman seemed like a Paul Gulacy illustration come to life.

Gulacy, a brilliant, prolific comics artist – burst on the scene in the 70s in groundbreaking series like Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu and, with Don McGregor, Epic’s Sabre – one of the first/earliest graphic novels (as we define the term today).   Paul Gulacy’s slick compositions, cinematic layouts, gorgeous leading ladies, and fast paced storytelling was always a treat.

When there’s a scene with a fire in a Gulacy story, you can almost feel the heat on your face.

Gulacy was no stranger to Batman either, having illustrated many bat-stories over the years. Of note, he was always pushing himself, often developing new Batmobile designs and costume tweaks with each outing.

Gulacy also was an artist on DC’s Catwoman. He followed Darwyn Cooke’s memorable run on that series.  Cooke was a tough act to follow, but somehow Gulacy managed to do it.

Paul Gulacy’s Catwoman is sexy and sly.  She moves like a cat, even though comics art is, of course, static. She’s tough and enduring and likeable. And she looks a lot like The Batman’s Zoë Kravitz! Or maybe Zoë Kravitz looks a lot like Gulacy’s version of the Feline Felon.

Today, anyone who makes a super-hero movie has a wealth of source material to reference. I’m glad Matt Reeves and The Batman folks like Paul Gulacy art so much.

This should’ve happened last year. Marvel’ s Shang Chi movie, which seems to be referred to now as Legend of the 10 Rings, was based on a character that really hit his stride when writer Doug Moench partnered with artist Paul Gulacy to create a globetrotting spy adventure.  In the 70s and early 80s, Master of Kung Fu was one of the most epic series, with larger-than-life plots, beautiful women, incredible fight scenes and cameos by favorite movies stars (Marlon Brando, Groucho Marx, etc.) No, really.  Paul Gulacy made his mark on the series and was followed by several other brilliant artists, but it always seemed like “his” series to me.

The cinematic Shang Chi didn’t bear much resemblance to the comic version. That’s fine, I suppose, for the world at large. But it was a disappointment for some long-time readers.  I wish Gulacy’s version of the character, and the fascinating supporting cast, had made it to the screen.

So, I’m grateful to see so many of Gulacy’s brilliant concepts and illustrations on-screen in this new Darknight Detective movie.  And I hope to see more.

Oh, and I must say, the Batmobile video game was in the movie theater lobby was outrageously fantastic too.

Editor’s Notes:
If you are not familiar with Paul Gulacy or interested in seeing what he is up to, he is on Twitter at pgulacy1.

Also, this is not the first time that the world has reminded Pop Culture Squad writers about Paul Gulacy’s art.

With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi

With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi

Is it ever permissible to review a movie before you see it? And if so, can I give it four stars ahead of time?

I have yet to see Disney/Marvel’s latest superhero movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings . But given the track record of Kevin Feige and his teams, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.  It’s looks to be both fun and important.

And you know what? A mostly Asian cast is a good start to rectifying wrongs of the past.  This movie blew past all early estimates and scooped up in nearly $100 million at the U.S. box office over the Labor Day weekend. Its now one of the top-grossing movies of the year. Not too shabby, right?

My one worry is that this movie doesn’t seem to be about my old pal Shang Chi and his friends, lovers and antagonists. I am glad that this character is now given Cinematic Validations, but back in the 70s, Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu was one badass title. It quickly became a favorite and a must-read.  Like Conan the Barbarian, MoKF (as we called it back then) existed in its own corner of the inter-connected Marvel Universe, mostly independent of the usual cross-over nonsense. And it had a tone all its own.

Shang Chi was the protagonist, but he also served as our entry point to the ongoing spy stories. Shang would often refer to his adventures as “games of death and deceit”.  It was a sprawling engaging tapestry: a James Bond world with nefarious villains, creative henchmen (ala Goldfinger’s Oddjob) and over-the-top plots.  The love interest was the beautiful – but deadly – Leiko Wu and Shang’s comrades in arms were Brits like Black Jack Tarr and other spies – pulled from the pulps or created as offspring of famous fictional characters.

In this old comic series, Shang Chi was the wayward son of master villain Fu Manchu, a pulp villain.  As a kid, my local library, the legendary Seymour Library, had several Fu Manchu adventures in the mystery section. When I found them I thought I had discovered treasure. I loved reading them. Continue reading “With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi”