If you like to rummage old comic book long-boxes at flea markets then you probably know that they are usually filled with 90s garbage. A pop culture trend of wild, crazy and super sexualized characters with impossible anatomy were distributed everywhere, often by small or independent publishers. One of these characters was Shi (Ana Ishikawa) by William Tucci. Her debut story was Shi: The Way of the Warrior, published in 1994.
On the first page of the first issue we discover quickly that this is a title for mature viewers, and it’s apparent where the basic appeal of this character comes from. Shi is sitting with her legs crossed, Indian style that resembles the meditative Lotus Position. While meditating we see Shi completely naked and with a convenient shadow over her private parts. She is trying to enliven the mind without dwelling on anything. She needs her mind free from the pain of yesterday, the fear of tomorrow and the storm of today. We visually see Shi paddling a boat and we see this metaphorical storm. She then ends her meditation and dresses in her combat gear. As we turn the page we get a nice two-page spread of Shi, prime for tearing out and posting on your bedroom wall.
The following pages of Shi: The Way of the Warrior begin to give pieces of her backstory. She is reminded of the man who killed her father, and left a coin as his signature. We also see that she uses a Naginata as her weapon of choice. In an alley, a police woman was lured by a group of thugs and ready to do horrible things to her. Of course Shi kills them all except for one who flees. She dismisses him as a coward and lets him leave. Detectives at the hospital reveal that this incident was not the first orchestrated cop killing, and they also make it clear that they are in New York City. We also see that Shi, or Ana Ishikawam, is some sort of art dealer.
This sort of character appeals to the same audience who reads Vampirella or Lady Death. It has the violence that men like to see along with the scantily-clad women. It’s kind of crazy that there were so many anti-hero women in comics and magazines, yet the majority of them were targeted toward male readers rather than women. If you are interested in reading Shi: The Way of the Warrior, it’s very easy to find. You might even see a copy blowing in the wind around a landfill, or lining the bottom of someone’s bird cage.