'Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality' Graphic Novel Sends Shang-Chi on His First Adventure
'Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality' creator Victoria Ying discusses Shang-Chi's preteen years, his complicated relationship with Zheng-Zu, and more.
Marvel breakout Shang-Chi sets off to unlock the keys to immortality and save his father in Scholastic's Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality, an all-new, original graphic novel adventure by Victoria Ying.
Twelve-year-old Shang-Chi and and his younger sister, Shi-Hua, are the only children in the grand palace of the Five Weapons Society. Their father, Zheng-Zu, is a harsh master, and all Shang-Chi wants is to prove himself in his father’s eyes.
So when he overhears that his father’s powers may be waning and discovers an ancient scroll that might be the key to helping him get those powers back, Shang-Chi knows exactly what to do. For the first time in his life, he sneaks out of the palace and into the outside world, hoping to return with one of the legendary Peaches of Immortality to gift his father.
But the world beyond the palace is very different from everything Shang-Chi has been taught, especially a boy called Lu, who knows more about Zheng-Zu than he should. With his home and father’s health on the line, Shang-Chi cannot fail in his quest—but does his father deserve to be saved?
Speaking with Marvel.com, Ying discussed the draw of Shang-Chi and Zheng-Zu's complicated relationship. She explained why Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality is set during Shang-Chi's preteen years and shared her personal connection to the fairy tale at the heart of this story. She also teased the antagonist's parallel journey with Shang-Chi, Shang-Chi's "essential" relationship with his sister, a new character named Lu, and much more.
MARVEL.COM: What sets Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality's version of the character from the others that have come before him?
VICTORIA YING: One of the things that intrigued me the most about Shang-Chi as a character was his complicated relationship to his father. I wanted to explore what it would be like to be a young person and what it felt like to constantly crave and strive for approval, before throwing it all away and rejecting the need for understanding from his father. It's a journey I can relate to and I wanted to show Shang-Chi in the years before he set out against his father.
MARVEL.COM: What does his young age allow you to do with the character, that perhaps you couldn't have if he were older?
VICTORIA YING: I love writing for young people because the issues that they face are ones that we can all relate to. Preteens and teens are figuring out who they are. They're out in the world and trying to define who they will be. That journey is deeply fascinating to me, and even more so with a character like Shang-Chi, who has to do a hard thing and break away from the traditions of his family.
MARVEL.COM: How would you describe Shang-Chi's relationship with Shi-Hua, his younger sister?
VICTORIA YING: I have my own younger brother and I drew a lot on that relationship. When you're siblings, you're team members; you're on a team you didn't necessarily choose, but you're both the only people in the whole wide world who know your parents as well as you do. I wanted to show Shi-Hua being a normal little sister, both in how annoying little siblings can be, but also in how essential they are as partners in crime.
MARVEL.COM: Introduce us to Lu.
VICTORIA YING: Lu is a character who shares a lot of Shang-Chi's feelings about his father, but from a different perspective. I wanted to show Shang-Chi an alternative version of his own life through Lu. Lu is a lot like Shang-Chi—more than he expected—but he's been through a lot and has to deal with his own journey of breaking away from expectations.
MARVEL.COM: What can you tell us about the antagonist in this graphic novel?
VICTORIA YING: Every character in this story is going through the same big question: How do I become my own person apart from family? They all answer this differently, and the villain in this story is a path that Shang-Chi could have taken, but chooses not to. I had a lot of fun drawing this character and I hope that he haunts the nightmares of readers!
MARVEL.COM: Can you tease a moment or scene you just can't wait for readers to see?
VICTORIA YING: I grew up with "Journey to the West" as one of the main fairy tales told to me by my family. I always loved the idea of the immortal peaches, and drawing my own version of how they could complicate someone's life has always been a goal of mine. I can't wait for readers to be exposed to this lore and see the immortal peach grove.
MARVEL.COM: Tell me a little about your approach to the artwork on this graphic novel. Where did you find inspiration? What aspect of the art made you especially proud?
VICTORIA YING: I wanted to use a brushy style of illustration for this book. My grandfather was a Chinese calligrapher, and I wanted to honor my heritage by drawing my comic book characters with brushes that emulated traditional brush strokes. Ian Herring is the colorist for this book and he did an absolutely incredible job pushing it to be even better than I could have imagined. His colors paired with the inks was a wonderful collaboration and I love how the artwork turned out for this!
Shang-Chi and the Quest for Immortality arrives on October 3, 2023. Preorder your copy on Amazon and wherever books are sold!
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