Dalibor Talajić and CM Punk give the martial arts hero a wild day off!

Even a true leader in his field needs a break. Of course, when someone throws on the sweats and hopes to relax, any number of problems can come up. For you and I, thought might mean a plumbing issue or noisy neighbors—but we’re not Shang-Chi!

With MASTER OF KUNG FU #126, writer CM Punk and artist Dalibor Talajić take Shang-Chi from lounger to fighter in one issue. For his part, Talajić drew on previous incarnations of the ferocious fighting hero to help give this more out-there tale a firm base.

We talked with the artist about balancing the wild tone of the story with more grounded art, working with Punk, and taking inspiration from artists like Paul Gulacy and Mike Zeck.

Marvel.com: In the wake of his initial series, Shang-Chi’s been a guest star and team player for the most part. Why do you think it’s important to showcase him in his own book like this?

Dalibor Talajić: Well, times do change. His initial series was during the “Enter The Dragon” Bruce Lee era. And even though Bruce Lee is still considered the king of the martial arts realm, his time did pass. I guess Shang had to redefine himself and find his place under the sun anew.

His own book was also a team book, so naturally various comic book teams wanted to place him within a [group]. So, yes I do believe it is important to give him a chance to breathe on his own—so to speak—even in a story like this, where circumstances are almost ridiculous, one might say to see him on his off side.

Marvel.com: Shang’s always been tough, but in the last few years he’s proven himself on a larger scale by working with the Avengers. Has that changed how he handles himself at all?

Dalibor Talajić: Well, I guess his self-confidence in what he does better than anyone is what places him among the heavy hitters. True, he has no special powers, but his focus, his stamina, and [his] philosophical depth make him a genuine super human.

Yet his philosophical depth is what keeps him constantly questioning both his actions and himself, and thus keeps him down to earth. He won’t allow himself any arrogance. But all these features combined open the doors for his endless growth as a character. This is something that reflects our own lives: the possibility of growth that only needs to be noticed by us. This is why I love this character; he is closest to us, to the best in us.

Marvel.com: What was it like figuring out his look for this series?

Dalibor Talajić: Well, given the nature of the story, I imagined him in his sweatshirt and stuff. You know Sunday afternoon stuff that you wear while watching TV and having a nap. The circumstances take him off guard and he stays dressed like that all the way through. He even loses his sneakers at some point. Here and there, through flashbacks, I would nod to Bruce Lee’s famous yellow jump suit. Or the fact that he ends up topless. But the idea was the everyday Joe looks. As I’ve said—one of us.

Marvel.com: Overall, how’s it been working with CM Punk on this project?

Dalibor Talajić: Well, fun! CM writes very funny dialogue. But the story is a slippery slope. In it’s essence it’s so pulpy that it’s close to ridiculous so I had to be very careful to keep it balanced. If I was leaning to a stronger stylization, as the story might trick you into, it would end up like a flat out crazy cartoon. Instead, I went for “realism” so that ridiculous part would serve as a crazy Bond-like villain comedy.

Marvel.com: How has it been digging into Shang-Chi’s history with this story? Are you looking back at a lot of his other comics for reference or possibly other mediums?

Dalibor Talajić: That was a difficult task. Because initially Shang-Chi is a serious character. So was the art depicting it. [Paul] Gulacy was treating him with an almost noir atmosphere, while I don’t think is possible to make him more badass than [Mike] Zeck did. Even I treated him seriously a few years back in [the] MASTER OF KUNG FU [limited] series. There, I wanted to mimic classic flashy Hong Kong action films.

So I guess I tried to combine all of that a bit and hopefully blend it into something that honors all those beautiful incarnations of the character that were already there long before me. I can only hope I did Shang-Chi justice.

CM Punk and Dalibor Talajić give Shang-Chi a less-than-relaxing day off in MASTER OF KUNG FU #126 on November 8!

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CM Punk brings Shang-Chi back with a Marvel Legacy one-shot!

He’s the greatest hand-to-hand fighter in the Marvel Universe.

Stepping back into the limelight with this title’s first appearance since 1983, Shang-Chi returns in MASTER OF KUNG FU #126!

Brought to life by a writer that knows a thing or two about combat in close quarters, CM Punk, alongside all-star artist Dalibor Talajic, the Marvel Legacy one-shot kicks off on November 8!

We met up with Punk for a little insight into a revival 34 years in the making.

Marvel.com: What’s your approach to bringing the Master of Kung Fu to life?

CM Punk: It helps that it’s a one-shot, because I think we can just create a fun comic book. I have zero history with Shang-Chi, aside from being a comic book fan and knowing about him from various team-ups, but I wanted to do a throwback to some 1970s action with a bit of campiness.

Marvel.com: How does your own fighting mastery influence the way you write this story? Do you and Shang-Chi have similar styles?

CM Punk: Oh, absolutely not. Shang-Chi is a martial artist. I’m a fighter. I’ll be able to lay out some great action, though.

Marvel.com: What’s he up against in this one-shot?

CM Punk: Without giving anything away, I want to have fun with the idea of him having a “day off” from fighting forces of evil. However, evil never sleeps…

Marvel.com: And how does it feel to work with Dalibor Talajic on the book?

CM Punk: He’s such a perfect artist for this—he practices martial arts himself! I think that will be a great help.

CM Punk and artist Dalibor Talajic reawaken MASTER OF KUNG FU with issue #126 on November 8!

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Dalibor Talajic illustrates CM Punk’s Shang-Chi story in Marvel Legacy!

Shang-Chi’s back in the game and ready to prove to all challengers that he’s the one-and-only Master of Kung Fu.

Writer CM Punk and artist Dalibor Talajic kick off a new era for the martial artist in MASTER OF KUNG FU #126, a one-shot in celebration of Marvel Legacy. Shang-Chi’s operated as secret agent, adventurer, and Avenger, but he’s on his own again and his artist’s vision of him remains clear and focused.

Marvel.com: Dalibor, what do you find visually cool about Shang-Chi?

Dalibor Talajic: Shang-Chi is essentially Bruce Lee. He was created during Bruce’s peak of popularity and was clearly based upon him. So visually, I guess his expression is what makes him unique. He is peaceful and calm, but beneath this calm there’s a deadly volcano. And if I manage to capture that in his eyes, I’ll be happy. This mesmerizing presence of his is something that must be felt throughout every panel.

Marvel.com: You did a MASTER OF KUNG FU four-issue series with Haden Blackman in 2015—what kinds of research might you be doing to prepare for this new one-shot?

Dalibor Talajic: I might say that this is a familiar territory. However, I always try to complicate things for myself artistically.

Marvel.com: How so?

Dalibor Talajic: Sometimes, I decide on a different lay-out design, sometimes it’s more blacks, sometimes no blacks at all. Last time I was concentrating on fight choreography and the clarity of the art itself. This time I might be playing with shadows—maybe? A humble nod to [artist Paul] Gulacy’s legacy?

Marvel.com: Given that this is a Marvel Legacy project, that’d be entirely appropriate.

Dalibor Talajic: Right, but all this depends on a story, of course. I’ll see where the story takes me and work from there. I always try to tie myself to the story. Comic book artists are often compared to movie directors, and there is a saying: the best directors are those you don’t even notice. So story comes first. What I’ll be doing emerges from that.

Marvel.com: How do you feel about working with CM Punk on MASTER OF KUNG FU?

Dalibor Talajic: I honestly can’t wait to see how he deals with this. He is also a professional fighter, so he’ll know what he’s writing about. I myself am a kung fu practitioner and I know what’s humanly possible during the fights. So we’ll see whose kung fu is stronger!

Gather your fighting spirit and look for MASTER OF KUNG FU #126 from CM Punk and Dalibor Talajic coming this November!

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