[identity profile] skim666.livejournal.com
ShadowHero-Cov-300rbg-550x850  I just read Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero, their imagining of the origin story of the Green Turtle, the 1940s Asian American comic book hero (invented by cartoonist Chu Hing). They locate the Green Turtle’s origins firmly in Asian American history, with Hank, our hero-to-be, the son of immigrants and growing up in 1930s Chinatown while working in his father’s grocery store. It’s also a classic superhero origin story, with primal scenes of violence and hurt that will shape the hero’s quest in later life, but with an Asian Americanist take – a wry awareness of racial formations and racist stereotypes. Basically, Shadow Hero is awesome and you should all run out and read it immediately.

An extra-special touch is the section at the end that provides the publication history of the original 1944 Green Turtle comic, including the publisher’s unwillingness to make the hero Asian American and cartoonist Hing’s subversion of that decision. Also included is a reproduction of the entire first Green Turtle adventure, from Blazing Comics #1, which is fascinating and complicated on a number of levels.

Gene Luen Yang is the much-acclaimed author of American Born Chinese (reviewed 2011-02-10), Level Up (reviewed 2011-11-26), Boxers and Saints (reviewed 2013-09-21), and other works. Sonny Liew is a comic artist based in Singapore who is known for Malinky Robot and My Faith in Frankie.

The Shadow Hero was originally published as monthly e-issues, with original cover art for each issue, and the full graphic novel was published earlier this month. There’s also a book trailer here (as well as links to buy the book): http://geneyang.com/the-shadow-hero.

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