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Comic Book / Shi

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Thereby you can be the director...
of your opponent's...

Shi is a Comic Book series written by William Tucci and released in 1994 under his own publishing, Crusade Comics. The original run lasted 12 issues but the comic book gained enough fame to be considered as one of the most popular comic book action girls of The '90s, being published under Dark Horse Comics and Avatar Press between the 90s and the Turn of the Millennium (but later coming back to Crusader Comics) and having crossovers with famous characters as Wolverine, Grifter, Hellboy and Lady Death.

The story is about Ana Ishikawa, a half-Japanese half-American woman with a vendetta: avenge her father and brother at the hands of the Yakuza leader Masahiro Arashi who killed them when she was a child. Training for decades under her grandfather Yoshitora, a Warrior Monk, she goes into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Arashi and the Yakuza under the identity of "Shi" and becoming the "embodiment of death." In the end, thanks to the strong teachings of her Catholic mother, she just leaves him in jail and decides not to kill anymore, but keeps the "Shi" alter-ego for when it becomes necessary, fighting not just criminals but supernatural forces and even another "embodiment of death" like her.

In 2020, a new series, Shi: Return of the Warrior, debuted, in which Ana, now the divorced mother of a teenage daughter, is pulled back into the costume after Arashi escapes from prison.

Not to be confused with the French Graphic Novel of the same name made by Zidrou and Joseph Homs, the Naruto character C (known in Japan as "Shi"), nor the 2012 South Korean film of the same name (known in Western as "Poetry".)

Shi contains examples of:

  • Action Girl
  • Action Mom: Shi's return to comic books in the 2020 Graphic Novel Shi: Return of the Warrior shows her as a single mother raising her teenage daughter Hotaru, passing 20 years since her beginnings in The Way of the Warrior.
  • Badass Normal: Only armed with her naginata/katanas and her skills trained by her Warrior Monk grandfather.
  • Big Bad: Masahiro Arashi.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Shi" (死) means "death".
  • Celebrity Masquerade: As Ana Ishikawa, she's famous enough being an art historian and the director of Oiko Art Gallery.
  • Crossover:
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Her first appearance was in the 1993 Razor Annual #1, getting enough fame to get her own series in the next year: Shi: The Way of the Warrior 12-issues miniseries.
  • Facial Markings: As Shi, Ana paints her face as white with bright red lips as a geisha based on Tora no Shi, a Japanese woman who was a warrior in the Feudal Japan. Later, in some illustrations, she also has the "Shi" kanji drawn/tattoed uner her right eye.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: One of the first pages of her first appearance in The Way of the Warrior #1 shows her completely naked and only covered with her Godiva Hair and shadows from a nearby window. Also, she used to be naked in almost all the numbers with conveniently censor as this image.
  • Geisha: Her outfit is a kind of homage to her Japanese heritage, having the makeup and the haircut based on them. In some illustrations, Shi dressed as one indeed (a Stripperiffic one, of course).
  • Identical Stranger: In some illustrations, Shi looks very similar to SNK character Mai Shiranui.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Shi also is shown with a katana as her main weapon, and sometimes with both of them.
  • Legacy Character: The 3-issue miniseries Shi: Tora no Shi was about the original Shi: "Tora no Shi", who was Ana's ancestor (Yuri Ishikawa) and fought against famous Japanese warriors like Miyamoto Musashi. Her look and name was used by Ana to become Shi in the present time. Yuri returned in the Shi: Poisoned Paradise miniseries by Avatar Press, being part of the Christian resistance against Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Shi and Tomoe gained a couple of figures, some of them made by Dark Horse in 2004 and others made during The New '10s.
  • The Movie: A What Could Have Been example. At the end of The '90s, it was a movie in plans, with Tia Carrere as Ana Ishikawa/Shi and Tucci writing the script. It even had a teaser poster and this cover for the then upcoming Shi: The Series comic books, which are the only record of what would be this movie. In the end all went into Development Hell and nothing was done.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The main reason she became so famous in The '90s.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Mostly seen in the "Tora no Shi" titles, where she was in Feudal Japan and met various famous personalities as Miyamoto Musashi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the latter the Big Bad in one of her stories.
  • Not Me This Time: In Return of the Warrior, when Arashi suddenly escapes from prison and someone starts stringing up bodies with their throats cut, everyone assumes that the old man's back to his old ways. The culprit is actually his therapist, Dr. Blevins, who became obsessed with his crimes and decided to commit some of his own.
  • Old Master: Ana's grandfather Yoshitora.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: One of the variant covers for Return of the Warrior, by Amanda Conner, has Hotaru averting her eyes as Ana struggles to get her bikini bottoms over her widened hips.
    Ana: Don't "Oh God, Mom" me... You're partially responsible for this.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Ana Ishikawa's parents were killed by Masahiro Arashi, and so she takes on the name "Shi" to avenge their deaths and kill everyone who stands in her way.
  • Secret War: Between descendants of the infamous sohei warrior monks of Feudal Japan.
  • Shout-Out: Tomoe, Shi's Friendly Rival uses a couple of sharp-bladed fans and has a long hair, just like Kitana.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Apart of the katanas and the naginata, Shi also manage other Japanese weapons like shurikens and a couple of sais.
  • Stripperific: Her common outfit is an upper red armor with a prominent cleavage, a black bikini with a little skirt, and red stockings that paired her armor.
  • Super Mob Boss: The main antagonist of Shi is a Yakuza crime lord who killed her father and brother when she was a child. Being trained by a decade for her grandfather, Shi goes for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against him, but he's also a lethal martial artist who killed a lot of people apart from Shi's family and having a tough Final Battle where she almost died, but finally could defeat him, barely.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In Return of the Warrior, Ana tries to pull on her old costume, two decades after the last time she wore it... and one of the stockings rips.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: After capturing Arashi, Ana decided not to kill any more, thanks to the strong teachings of her Catholic mother, who was also a missionary.
  • Vigilante Man: After fulfilling her revenge, Shi dedicates her life to being a vigilante and cleaning up her neighborhood of delinquents, murderers and violators.
  • Warrior Poet: Shi usually makes poems and Haiku based on her memories and quotes ancient Asian writers such as Sun Tzu.
  • Yakuza: The ones who killed his father and brother, Arashi being their leader.
  • You Killed My Father: Arashi murdered her father and brother.