Secret Avengers (1st series) #6

Issue Date: 
December 2010
Story Title: 
Eyes of the Dragon, Part 1 of 5

Ed Brubaker (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (artist), Rain Beredo (color art), Dave Lanphear (letters), Irene Lee (production), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Shang Chi is asleep when suddenly he senses that he is not alone. He wakes up to find several ninjas of the Hai-Dai order attacking. He fights well, but there are many. Fortunately, an ally appears in the form of the Prince of Orphans. He is there on the behest of Steve Rogers, and Shang-Chi is keen to discover why. Two days earlier, Hank passed a message to Steve Rogers from the Prince of Orphans. It concerned a temple he'd come across filled with dead monks. He had heard rumors that the Hai-Dai were responsible. Steve knew that the Hai-Dai were supposed to have disbanded, but the Prince informed Steve that they were looking for the Eyes of the Dragon, and if that was the case then there was trouble on its way. In the present, Shang-Chi joins Steve aboard the Secret Avengers' floating HQ. Shang is surprised to discover that his father might be alive, or at least on the verge of being brought back from the dead. Along with Steve and the Black Widow, Shang-Chi travels to Hong Kong where the team infiltrates the International Finance Centre on a mission to retrieve the eyes. Inside, they discover that they've been lured there on purpose and are attacked by more Hai-Dai ninjas. Elsewhere, Shang-Chi's father is with Shadow Council Director Thorn-Drake and Max Fury. He is half-way to being brought back fully from the dead. Fury receives a call. One of the Shadow Council's teams has found the real Eyes of the Dragon, so all that is needed now is to get their hands on Shang-Chi.

Full Summary: 

(evening, the present, somewhere quiet)
Shang-Chi is sleeping when a thought enters his mind, stirring him from his slumber. It's like a familiar scent drifting across troubled waters. All at once, he simply knows that his father has returned.

As several ninjas from the Celestial Order of the Hai-Dai enter his room, he leaps from his bed and defends himself using his amazing kung-fu ability. He knows that the ninjas shouldn't be there. They are one of the many groups who disbanded as they lived only to serve him. Shang-Chi wades through them, avoiding their throwing stars and picking up a sword as he slides across the polished wooden floor. He slashes and slices his way through his opponents, splattering blood everywhere. Shang-Chi's father is dead. He saw him die - crushed to death. However, he has seen many impossible things in his time.

The ninjas keep on coming, surrounding him, warning him that he will not escape. He assures them that he isn't trying to escape. He leaps at some of them; his blade cutting deep. As he evades a swinging chain, he notices a green mist appear. The mist grabs two ninjas and smashes them into the ground. The mist then forms a human-shape - the Prince of Orphans. He sides with Shang-Chi, using his fighting skills to defeat the ninjas. He warns Shang-Chi about someone behind him about to strike, and Shang makes short work of him by cutting him almost in two.

Once the danger is over, Shang-Chi turns to the Prince of Orphans and sees his bandaged arms. He asks if he's injured. "No," he replies. "No such luck." Shang asks who he is. The Prince replies that he's a friend, or at least, an enemy of his enemy. He opens his radio mic and says, "All right, Rogers. I've got the son..." Shang wonders what's going on.

(two days ago, on board the Secret Avengers floating HQ)
Steve Rogers is receiving a well-earned massage from Sharon Carter, who sits on his muscular back. Steve asks if there's been any more intel from Nick Fury. Sharon replies that they've had nothing since the info about a similar uniform worn once during World War II. She finds a particularly tight muscle and Steve informs her that he was training with Valkyrie, and he doesn't recommend that. "Noted," replies Sharon.

She then asks Steve who his old friend is that he sent to follow up on a lead. Is it someone she should have a file on? Steve sits up and reckons he wouldn't really appreciate that. He prefers to stay off the grid. He could barely get him to accept the microcommunicator. "But you trust him to find about their mystery soldiers?" she asks. Steve explains that Nick's intel said the uniforms were last seen during a mission in China in 1942. No one knew the area better than him.

He receives a call from Hank McCoy. It's a message coming in from Shanghai from the Prince of Orphans. "Speak of the Devil," says Steve as he pulls his sweater on. The Prince is standing in a room surrounded by dead monks. He informs Steve that he doesn't have any news on the mission, but he did come across something he thought he should know about. He got to an underground temple too late to save anyone. It's the third attack on such a place this month in Shanghai. He'd been hearing whispers about them all week in the shadows. No one knew for sure who was responsible, but every rumor said the Hai-Dai had returned. Steve replies that he thought the Hai-Dai disappeared years ago. The Prince bends over an old man and says that they did. That's what makes the man's dying words even more troubling. He said they were insane. They wouldn't believe he didn't know what they wanted. Steve asks what they did want. The Prince tells him that they were looking for a scroll about the Eyes of the Dragon and, if that's what he thinks it is, then they have a lot of trouble coming their way.

Once he's signed off, Hank explains to Steve and Sharon Carter that he's scoured every known and secret historical database, and what's on screen is everything he could find on the Eye of the Dragon. It's not much. They appear to be two gems that work in tandem, said to date back at least three thousand years. When Steve then asks what they do, Hank reckons that this where it gets tricky. According to legend, they were imbued with great spiritual energy. They're said to bring extraordinary luck to their owners.

Sharon is skeptical, but Hank says he was too, but then he found another text. It turns out that there's a little-known legend about these gems. The 'wizards' who created them poured the last of their essence into them before their deaths. If properly used, the Eyes of the Dragon complete a spell that can bring someone back from death. Hank assumes that this was intended for one of the makers of the gems. They reckon that if the Hai-Dai are after the scroll that contains that spell, then they know who they want to resurrect. Steve asks Sharon to get Pete Wisdom on the line. They need to find Shang-Chi now. He just became a prime target!

(present, high above Hong Kong)
Aboard the floating HQ, Steve is with Shang-Chi and Ant-Man. They look down at the island and Shang-Chi says it looks beautiful... so peaceful. He stares at the island, and Ant-Man whispers to Steve, wondering if he's going to start meditating. Steve asks him to be quiet. Shang-Chi then asks what comes next.

They retire to the armory with the Black Widow now in attendance, and Steve mentions that the leader of the Hai-Dai that Shang-Chi and his friend took apart was carrying a communication device. Beast was able to hack into it. He says that whoever is giving them orders had another target on his list, and they're going to get to that objective before them. Shang-Chi asks if the Prince of Orphans will be joining them, but Steve informs him that he is following a different lead with another member of his team. Shang says he's heard legends about him, but he thought they were just that - legends. Steve assures him that he'll make sure they get better acquainted after they stop his father from returning from the dead.

"Returning?" exclaims Shang-Chi. "You mean he isn't already back?" He wonders why the Hai-Dai would still be active if he was still dead. Steve can't explain that, but their intel says that they're still looking for the means to bring the old man back. He asks Shang if he's in or out. Shang replies that he's in, of course. His father's evil has already done too much damage to this world. Black Widow agrees. She hands him a parachute and tells him he'll need it. He asks why he would need that. Natasha asks if Steve didn't explain. They're going to be breaking a lot of laws tonight.

Natasha, Steve and Shang-Chi leap from the floating HQ and open their parachutes. Natasha has explained the plan to Shang-Chi. There's currently an exhibit of ancient Chinese art at the International Finance Centre. That's their target. They will infiltrate from the roof, preferably unseen. When they land, they quickly take out the rooftop guard and make their way inside. From there, they will head to the elevator shaft in order to stay out of sight. They’ll rappel approximately thirty stories and enter the exhibition room on the fifth-fifth floor. Among the statues on display is one that the Hai-Dai clearly presume holds the long-missing Eyes of the Dragon. The statue originates in the same region the gems were last seen.

Natasha approaches the statue and notes that its eyes are glowing. She hesitates, and Steve asks what's wrong. She replies that the gems are glass. They've been set up! They look round and see countless Hai-Dai ninja appearing. All three take a defensive stance, each facing away from each other. Shang-Chi asks if they're certain his father is not yet resurrected. This certainly feels like his style.

(deep in the Atlas Mountain range)
It's dark at the base camp. Director Thorn-Drake is there with Max Fury and an unnamed figure dressed in Chinese garb and wearing a horned helmet. The stranger asks how they knew they were there. Thorn-Drake replies that the Shadow Council knows where everything is hiding in the world. They found him, didn't they? "So you have," replies the stranger. "How much longer until you reach the chamber?” Thorn-Drake has a drink of wine and assures him that everything is on schedule as promised. The stranger warns him to remember who he is speaking to, but Thorn-Drake points at him and warns him to remember who he's talking to. He tells the stranger that he is only half-alive because of him. They don't have to finish that spell. Max Fury receives a call and informs Thorn-Drake that they have found the chamber. They have the eyes.

Thorn-Drake refills his glass and says that now, there is just one ingredient left to acquire. "You mean my traitorous son?" asks the stranger. Thorn-Drake replies yes. They left a big enough trail for him, so he hopes he followed it. The stranger says that he knows Shang-Chi won't be able to resist. Come the night of the waning moon in three days time, they will drain all his life and bring him fully into this dreadful world. He removes his helmet, revealing a creepy skull face. "And it will be terrible!"

Characters Involved: 

Ant-Man, Black Widow, Steve Rogers (all Secret Avengers)

Shang Chi
Prince of Orphans (aka Green Mist of Death)

Hai-Dai Ninja
Security Guards

Director Thorn-Drake

Max Fury
Shang-Chi's father

(in flashback)
Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter Beast
Dead monks

(in photograph)
Captain America

Story Notes: 

The Prince of Orphans is John Aman who debuted in The Immortal Iron Fist #8.

The unnamed stranger is Shang-Chi’s father, Fu Manchu. As Marvel no longer hold the license to use that name, he goes unnamed here.

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