Steve Rogers and company team up with Shang-Chi in order to take on the Shadow Council and the “Master of Kung-Fu’s” mostly-resurrected evil dad. Then Rogers dives into the mind of a former comrade from WWII to find out what happened to him after the mission they were on went to hell. Though the first volume had the energy to power its high-stakes story, this one is the lesser work in both areas. It’s competently put together, but you need more than that if you’re going to stand out in this market and “Eyes of the Dragon” doesn’t have much to recommend it. Maybe if Shang-Chi’s role had been leveraged to make the arc into something resembling a Hong Kong martial arts action movie by way of the Marvel Universe, it could’ve been more interesting. Or maybe that’s just my sense of wish fulfillment talking. Mike Deodato and Will Conrad provide the art, and they try their best to liven things up while also impressesing me with the consistency between their styles.
This volume also marks the end of Brubaker’s run on the title. It’s interesting to note that he apparently didn’t come onboard with the plan to tell one over-arching story through these twelve issues. His remit was apparently to show that the team could work together and introduce the Shadow Council as a recurring antagonist. While the was successful in the former, the Council still feels a bit too generic to be an actual threat. Evil organizations with lots of secrets are a dime a dozen in the Marvel Universe and at this point, the most interesting thing about them is Max Fury, the sentient life-model decoy of Nick Fury that’s working for them. So even though Brubaker is leaving, it’s not a bad thing for the title by any means.