Zheng Zu and his younger brother Zheng Yi were powerful sorcerers born during the 18th century in China. The two brothers and their five disciples, the Deadly Warriors, formed the Five Weapons Society to protect China. Through the use of longevity spells, the Sorcerer Brothers lived decades beyond their natural lifespans, outliving their original disciples and leaving them old and weak during the Opium Wars in the next century. During a battle with the British Army, the Five Weapons Society suffered a horrible defeat by Dormammu and his Mindless Ones, resulting in the deaths of the then current lineup of Deadly Warriors and Yi receiving mortal wounds. With the Eyes of the Dragon, Zu attempted to revive his brother and restore his youth at the cost of his own life, but Yi reversed the spell due to not wanting the rule the Society alone, sacrificing himself to restore Zu's youth and power. Zu led the Society alone from then, but without his kind hearted brother's influence he became increasingly ruthless and corrupt, transforming the Society into a vast criminal empire. To instill fear, Zu lied about Yi's death, claiming he murdered Yi for his perceived weakness and stole his life energy to augment his own.
Over the years, Zheng Zu learned martial arts, the various scientific disciplines, and esoteric knowledge at a monastery. In the modern day, Zheng Zu adopted the name "Fu Manchu" and created the false origin that he was empowered by the Elixir of Life. Like with his name, the Society would go through different aliases over the years, beginning with the Order of the Si-Fan and eventually the Order of the Golden Dawn and the Order of the Hai-Dai. He became a crimelord, the shadow emperor of a worldwide invisible empire with a globe-spanning army of highly trained fanatical killers. At his command were the killers of various cults and secret societies, including; the Dacoits, the Thugees, the Phansigars, the Hashishin, and others. "Fu Manchu" had the intellect of three geniuses and the world's most beautiful women as his pawns.
He attempted to take over the United States and the world on numerous occasions. One of his earlier attempts global domination by kidnapping the leaders of the League of Nations and controlling the minds of the representatives in 1933 was stopped by Denis Nayland Smith, Lyman Leeks, and James Petrie. His first attempt to conquer the United States by dispersing a mind control chemical via the exhaust produced by automobiles was defeated by his son Shang-Chi. Later Spider-Man and Shang-Chi stopped his attempt to brainwash the citizens of the United States via television using a transmitter installed on the Empire State Building. Fu Manchu then attempted to manipulate China and the United States into a war against each other, but was foiled by Iron Fist, Shang-Chi and the Sons of the Tiger.
Shang-Chi and MI6 later stopped Fu Manchu from knocking the Moon out of orbit, thereby bringing chaos to Earth and giving him the opportunity to conquer it. Fu Manchu then brought together several shadowy and criminal secret societies (Thugees, Leopard Cult, Three-Cornered Sight, Hashishin, Twenty-Third Sect, Light-Seekers, Templars, Phansigars, Followers of the Left-Hand Path, and his own Celestial Order of the Si-Fan) under an umbrella secret society, the Order of the Golden Dawn. Using these new assets he attempted to sow chaos and a World War 3 via using mind control on UN representatives, creating "UFO" incidents, and attempting to detonate a nuclear weapon in New York before being stopped by Shang-Chi.
For almost two decades he was inactive and believed dead, and upon his return he recommenced his war with Shang-Chi. First he had Zaran retrieve a chemical agent from A.I.M Who infiltrated an A.I.M. facility, killed everyone in it, and brought him the chemical agent. He then had Zaran lead a team of Daicots against Shang-Chi and his allies. Which was a diversion, as the true target, Spector Tower was destroyed in a great explosion. He later built the Hellfire Weapon which could destroy cities, before being foiled once again by Shang-Chi and MI6.
Seeking alliance with Black Panther
As the Black Panther was touring in the United States, looking for a wife, Fu Manchu had him followed by his ninjas to Luke Cage's flat. Those attacked the two heroes but were forced to retreat, allowing the pair to infiltrate their ship and then Fu Manchu's Fortress.
Going now by the name of "Han", he offered his daughter Kwai Far to T'Challa, hoping to unite their kingdoms. But as the Panther refused the offer, feeling he was bound to someone else, Han got mad, rejecting his daughter and unleashing his ninjas over the two heroes, soon rejoined by his son Shang-Chi. Cage, T'Challa, and Shang-Shi managed to defeat the ninjas and dodge the Dragon, and all left the fortress along with Kwai Far.
The Shadow Council would resurrect Fu Manchu some point after his death. However, without the proper materials, he was stuck in a temporary undead state. In order to fully resurrect him, they needed to collect the Eyes of the Dragon and sacrifice a relative. After the eyes were located, they decided to capture and sacrifice Shang-Chi. The Shadow Council created a diversion to draw out Shang-Chi and the Secret Avengers so that they could capture him. After Shang-Chi was captured, Zheng Zu told Shang-Chi he planned on killing him. Shang-Chi then revealed he had discovered his true origins, but Zheng Zu dismissively said it did not matter. Zheng Zu then took Shang to a hidden temple in the mountains where all the proper resources would be found. However, his plans were foiled by Moon Knight, who had infiltrated the Shadow Council, and used a tracer to let the Secret Avengers discover the temple. Amidst the chaos, The Prince of Orphans, an old enemy of Zheng Zu, destroyed the glyph powering the ritual. As a result, Zheng Zu died and his body turned to stone. To ensure his death remained permanent, John shattered his body. This created a magical backlash of energy that caused the whole temple to collapse.
Five Weapons Society
After Zheng Zu's death, leadership of the Five Weapons Society was passed down to his son Brother Staff. Following Staff's murder at the hands of Zu's daughter Shi-Hua to usurp control, Zu's spirit chose Shang-Chi as his successor. Despite this, Shi-Hua named herself Supreme Commander, prompting a civil war between the Houses of the Society. After Shang-Chi was named Supreme Commander, Zheng Zu's spirit congratulated his son, remarking that he was destined to become just like him.
Powers and Abilities
Magician with several magic-based abilities; striking / moving human targets from a distance, and causing explosions.
- Genius-Level Intellect: Fu Manchu invented the mind control mimosa which could be dispersed in the atmosphere, developed a transmitter to brainwash people via television, built a huge subterranean mountain fortress, made plans to knock the moon from its orbit, built the Hellfire lighting ray weapon which could destroy cities, genetically engineered "aliens", created giant arthropods (spiders, praying mantis, scorpions), and mutate human-animal hybrids.
- Unarmed Combat: Skilled in all of the martial arts that were known to mankind.
- Master of Disguise: Being able to fool Shang-Chi, his own son.
- Hypnotism: Skilled in animal magnetism (aka, mystic hypnotism).
- Fu Manchu was originally created by British pulp novelist Sax Rohmer (real name Arthur Sarsfield Ward) and was the eponymous antagonist in several novels and anthologies published between 1913 and 1959. Fu Manchu's greatest adversaries were Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie (also creations of Sax Rohmer). Fu's infamous son, Shang-Chi, is a character unique to the Marvel Universe and has no pulp era counterpart. As Marvel Comics Entertainment no longer maintains the license to use Fu Manchu as a character; he is seldom referenced in comics but does occasionally appear under an assumed name. The Marvel Comics version of Fu Manchu was first developed by Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart.
- On Earth-616, Fu Manchu is a real person, but most people believe him to be a fictional character:
- A poster seen in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4 (1967) depicts this character with the text "Fu Manchu for mayor" in the Coffee Bean. These posters were part of a real-life campaign during the 1965 mayoral election to promote the film The Face of Fu Manchu.
- In Giant-Size Spider-Man #2 (1974), Spider-Man believed that Fu Manchu was a fictional character until they met one another - and even then, Spider-Man was still skeptical.
- 80 appearance(s) of Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
- 13 minor appearance(s) of Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
- 25 mention(s) of Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
- 40 image(s) of Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
- 5 quotation(s) by or about Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
- 9 item(s) used/owned by Zheng Zu (Earth-616)
Links and References
- The Shang Chi Chronology
- The Dinasty of Fu Manchu:A Look at the Genealogies of the Heroes and Villains of the Fu Manchu Series
- Dr. Fu Manchu at International Heroes
- Fu Manchu at The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe