Fu Manchu was created by author Sax Rohmer, and first appeared in his 1913 novel, The Insidious Fu Manchu. The villain has been influential in the creation of other characters in the comic book medium, most notably The Yellow Claw, Ming the Merciless, the Claw, Mandarin, Dr. Tzin-Tzin, and Ra's al Ghul. He was, along with Professor Moriarty and Dracula, among the first of pop culture’s super-villains. Fu Manchu was one of the most popular characters to emerge from the "Yellow Peril" sub genre, which depicted Asians in rather extreme racial stereotypes. DC Comics serialized 1929's The Mysterious Fu Manchu, beginning in Detective Comics # 17, which was actually a reprint of the daily strip produced by Leo O'Mealia from 1931 to 1933. In 1940, the Chicago Tribune Comic Book Magazine published a comic strip adaptation of Drums of Fu Manchu, at first a photo comic and later a traditional illustrated comic strip. Wally Wood illustrated The Mask of Fu Manchu for Avon in 1951. Fu Manchu was adopted by Marvel under Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin in Special Marvel Edition #15 (1973). However, after Marvel lost the license for the Sax Rohmer estate, Fu Manchu was identified in continuity under aliases and pseudonyms.
Fu Manchu is an oriental genius who is the master of modern science and the ancient mystical arts. He is the mastermind and leader of the Si-Fan cult. His initial goal was simply the restoration of China to the glory it savored in other era. Until the Communist Revolution and Sir Denis Nayland Smith destroyed much of his power. I was forced to rebuild the Si-Fan without Peking's backing. A task which has cost him more than twenty years.
Now he stands alone, the emperor of an invisible world, world-wide empire, opposed to all recognized governments. He swears to destroy all governments for their mulish stupidity. His goal has become domination of the world by the Si-Fan, the most sinister secret society extant, destroying the western world.
He was born in 1840. He is a scientist by nature. His quest for knowledge is insatiable. His genius drives him to discover things of a dark and unnatural nature. Nothing is out of bounds. His experiments led to things that were eventually regarded as forbidden and eventually led him to criminal activities as he also employed those of the dark arts to do his bidding. Anything he wants or needs to complete his desires cannot be denied him as he has amassed untold wealth and unlimited resources.
Fu Manchu is also master of deception and disguise and used these skills in the western world and its politics which became his focus. He would plot to hypnotize politicians to perform in the service of Fu Manchu. He would kidnap noteworthy scientists to perform their experiments to help aid in his quest for knowledge. These disappearances or accidental deaths ultimately caught the attention of MI6, a British secret service. For decades Fu Manchu and his minions would wage war against MI6 and most notably their agent Nayland Smith. Smith along with Dr. Petrie and others were a constant thorn in the evil Fu Manchu's side. As Smith and Petrie grew old through the decades, Fu Manchu did not. The alchemical formula called Elixir Vitae was discovered by Fu Manchu decades prior and retarded his aging, so long as he continued to take it once every decade.
Fu Manchu has several children by blood and adoption. Some who work for him and some against his evil intentions. His daughter Fah Lo Suee would help or aid Fu Manchu's enemies plot against him. They might in turn be willingly or unknowingly aiding her in her own machinations against her father.
His son Shang-Chi is a master of kung-fu and other martial arts not unlike his father. He raised in his father's Honan Retreat. It was upon his first mission where he was to assassinate an aged Dr. Petrie who was an evil man as told by his father, Shang-Chi met Sir Nayland Smith. Smith informed the young assassin that it was his father Fu Manchu who is the evil one and proceeded to tell him of what his father has done over the years. With that, Shang-Chi confronted his father and swore his opposition and in turn His father swore that he after today he would use all that he had that was evil against him and parted as enemies.
Fu Manchu has carefully hidden one of his base inside an otherwise innocent office building, in the heart of New York City.
Marvel comics has lost the rights to this character. He was mentioned as Comte de Saint Germain, Han, Ghost or "father," until the revelation of his "real name," Zheng Zu and Si-Fan came to be called Hai-Dai, in the Eyes of Dragon story arc in Secret Avengers. Subsequently, Fah Lo Suee came to be called Cursed Lotus, his real name was revealed to be Zheng Bao Yu. Sadly, Sir Nayland Smith, and other essential characters in Shang-Chi's back story have also been lost and have yet to be accounted for as Fu Manchu has. Currently, both Si-Fan and Hai-Dai are names used by the Five Weapons Society.
Powers And Abilities
Fu Manchu is a genius in every field of knowledge. A man who spoke every civilized language, without accent, and most of the barbaric, an adept in all arts and sciences taught in universities, and certain obscure arts and sciences no university of the today can teach, a man with the intellect of any three men of genius.
He is virtually immortality is as long as he injects himself with the Elixir Vitae, the oil of life, every ten years to preserve and prolong his vitality.
Fu Manchu can hypnotize people through his eyes. He is also a master of unarmed combat and disguise.
His other weapons are worse, for he employs spiders, rats, reptiles, and other loathsome vermin, as well as the world's most beatiful women as his pawns.
Fu Manchu disdains guns or explosives, preferring to act through intermediaries.
Extremely charismatic, Fu Manchu has been responsible for founding or manipulating several secret societies to serve his ends. Most notably, he is the president of the Si Fan. He has also employed other popular members of Shang-Chi's rogues' gallery, like Zaran the Weapons Master.
After Fu Manchu's apparent death, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, briefly assumed control over several factions of the Si Fan, creating the Cyber Ninjas.
Fu Manchu has fathered children in the Marvel Universe: Shang-Chi, Fah Lo Suee, Moving-Shadow, and Kwai Far. He also adopted a disfigured African child named M'Nai, who later became known as Midnight, who later became known as Midnight Sun.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen he is only referred to as the Doctor. He has a crime war with none other than James Moriarty. Fu Manchu never appears, but his manipulation from behind the scenes is why Moriarty tricks the League into taking the cavorite from him.
Canon Novels by Sax Rohmer
- The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu (1912).
- The Return of Dr Fu Manchu (1916) (also known as The Devil Doctor)
- The Hand of Fu Manchu (1917) (also known as The Si-Fan Mysteries)
- Daughter of Fu Manchu (1931)
- The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
- The Bride of Fu Manchu (1933)
- The Trail of Fu Manchu (1934)
- President Fu Manchu (1936)
- The Drums of Fu Manchu (1939)
- The Island of Fu Manchu (1940)
- The Shadow of Fu Manchu (1948)
- Re-Enter Fu Manchu (1957)
- Emperor Fu Manchu (1959)
Fu Manchu novels not by Rohmer
Ten Years Beyond Baker Street (1984)
The first of two authorized continuation novels by Cay Van Ash, Sax Rohmer's former assistant and biographer. The novel is set in a narrative gap within The Hand of Fu Manchu and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, His Last Bow (both published in 1917). Holmes comes out of retirement to aid Dr. Petrie when Nayland Smith is abducted by the Si-Fan.
The Fires of Fu Manchu (1987)
The second of two authorized continuation novels by Cay Van Ash. The novel is set in 1917 and documents Smith and Petrie's encounter with Fu Manchu during the First World War culminating in Smith's knighthood.
The Terror of Fu Manchu (2009)
The Terror of Fu Manchu is the first of a new series of authorized period Fu Manchu thrillers by William Patrick Maynard. It is set on the eve of the First World War and is narrated by Dr. Petrie and includes Sax Rohmer’s other mystery hero, Gaston Max, in the mix.
Harry Agar Lyons
- The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (1923)
- The Further Mysteries of Dr Fu-Manchu (1924)
Fu Manchu: The Zayat Kiss (1952)
In a live-action Shang-Chi film released in September 2021, where Hong Kong star Tony Leung has been cast as the Xu Wenwun, the real Mandarin, the film's main antagonist. Due to legal issues, Wenwu will replace Fu Manchu in Shang-Chi's origin.
Wenwu is a character composed of Mandarin and Fu Manchu, like the Mandarin, he has ten rings that grant him powers, like Fu Manchu, he achieves immortality and leads the Ten Rings, a secret criminal organization just like the Si-Fan.
Shang-Chi's sister Xialing bears similarities to Fu Manchu's daughter Fah Lo Suee.
Glen Gordon starred in the TV series The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu in 1956.
Fu Manchu influenced directly or indirectly some other pop culture villains, at Marvel: Fang, Yellow Claw, Mandarin and Tenfingers, the villain Ming from Flash Gordon, Lo-Pan from Big Trouble in Little China, Shang-Tsung in Mortal Kombat, Hark from Planetary, and the DC's villains Ra's al Ghul and Ching Lung, Dr. Wu from Black Dynamite.