Gene Luen Yang is riding high right now with his excellent two-volume BOXERS & SAINTS getting great reviews and a shortlist for the National Book Award. And of course once one book comes out, everyone wants to know what’s next. In Yang’s Case it’s THE SHADOW HERO, which will be drawn by Sonny Liew. So you’ll be wanting a copy, then.
Boing Boing just unveiled the cover and explained the premise, which like most of Yang’s work, is a multi-leveled look at stereotypes and Asian cultural history.
In the U.S. comics boom of the 1940s, a legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comic book characters. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity… The Green Turtle was the first Asian American super hero.
The Green Turtle comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but the acclaimed author of American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, has finally revived this character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for this forgotten character. Hank just wants to enjoy his quiet life running the family grocery store with his father, but his mother has other ideas for him… she wants him to become a superhero, and to clean up their Chinatown neighborhood!
Yang and Liew previously looked at the Green Turtle in a story in Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology.
Now in case you are wondering if this is a little Seth/It’s a Good Life if you Don’t Weaken/Dick Berger/Sentry crazy made up comic book hero, NO.
The Green Turtle is a REAL comic book character who appeared in five issue of Blazing Combat in 1944. He was created by Chu Hing, one of the first Asian-American comics artists, who wanted the hero to be Asian. Since he wasn’t allowed to do this, he always drew him masked or with his face turned away, so you could imagine he was Asian. You can read one of the original Green Turtle stories here.
The real story is obscure and poetic, and should be ample material for Yang and Liew.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.