The Shadow Hero

Overview

In the comics boom of the 1940s, a  legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics 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 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 ...

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The Shadow Hero

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Overview

In the comics boom of the 1940s, a  legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics 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 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 Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the Green Turtle.

With artwork by Sonny Liew, this gorgeous, funny comics adventure for teens is a new spin on the long, rich tradition of American comics lore.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Eddie Huang
The book may not tell Asian-Americans anything they don't know, but it's the familiarity and specificity of this story in my hands, in print, in the English language that excite me.
Publishers Weekly
★ 04/28/2014
Yang further establishes himself as one of YA’s leading voices on the Chinese-American experience by inventing a backstory for a forgotten comic-book character who was arguably the first Asian superhero. As explained in a postscript, the Green Turtle blinked into and quickly disappeared from publication during the 1940s superhero boom; he would likely be condemned to obscurity if not for rumors suggesting that creator Chu Hing masked the character’s ethnicity so that he could be read as a Chinese superhero (the face of the original Green Turtle is almost always obscured). Yang and Liew run with this theory and cast the Green Turtle as 19-year-old Hank Chu, a second-generation Chinese American who (at his mother’s urging) takes up crime fighting, aided by an ancient shadow spirit that gives him limited superpowers and provides some hilarious banter. Racism, romance, humor, and identity all play important roles in Yang and Liew’s evocation of Hank’s life in pre-WWII San Francisco as they create an origin story that blends classic comics conventions (at one point, Hank’s mother pushes him into a toxic spill in an attempt to give him superpowers) with a distinctly Chinese perspective. Ages 12–up. (July)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Shadow Hero:

 

*"Yang and Liew reinvent this character in a brilliant homage that finally allows the Green Turtle to get his long overdue face time." - BCCB, STARRED REVIEW

 

*"There's plenty of humor in this lively, entertaining adventure story . . . At its heart, though, this book is a subtle comment on China's changing cultural landscape and growing multiculturism in America. A lovingly tongue-in-cheek homage." - Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

 

"The insight into Chinese mafia and 1940s American superhero comic book culture is wonderful." - VOYA

 

"Award-winning author Yang and artist Liew tackle a lesser-known aspect of history, breathing new life into the Green Turtle, a 1940s comic book hero . . . A creative take on the superhero genre." - School Library Journal

 

"Abundant humor, strong characters and cracking good action." - The Horn Book

 

"A golden-age comic superhero returns with a brand new Asian-American origin story . . . An entertaining and intelligent response to classic superhero stories." - Kirkus Reviews

 

STARRED REVIEW: "Racism, romance, humor, and identity all play important roles in Yang and Liew’s evocation of Hank’s life in pre-WWII San Francisco as they create an origin story that blends classic comics conventions with a distinctly Chinese perspective." - Publishers Weekly

 

Praise for Boxers & Saints:

 

“Read this, and come away shaking.” —Newbery Honor-winning author Gary Schmidt

 

“Masterful.” —Dave Eggers 

 

"Remarkable.” —The New York Times

 

“At once humorous and heartbreaking.” —The LA Times

 

"Epic.” —The Washington Post

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Karen Sykeny
This full-color graphic novel highlights and re-creates an obscure 1940s comic book character by providing a backstory. It starts with Chinese mythology, where Dragon and Turtle are having a conversation about the changing world and humanity losing its honor and character. It quickly shifts to the immigration story of the Shadow Hero’s parents. Hank grows up wanting to be just like his father, working in their grocery store. Chinese mafia take much of what they earn, and Hank’s mother disrespects his father, thinking him weak. She wants more for Hank, and after she is saved by a superhero, she decides that Hank needs to be a superhero too. When a terrible tragedy happens in his life, Hank dons his mother-made outfit sporting a turtle symbol. Hank is befriended by Turtle, giving him a superpower, and he fights the grip of the Chinese mafia in his neighborhood. There is consistent quality of both storytelling and artwork. Mother—son and father—son relationships in Chinese American culture and Asian immigrant communities in the United States are explored. Great details in the storyboards with both humorous and dramatic dialogue are thought provoking. There are ethnic slurs throughout, somewhat sparingly, but used within the Chinese community by Chinese characters to illustrate the time period. This book would be a good addition to existing older teen and/or adult graphic novel collections. The insight into Chinese mafia and 1940s American superhero comic book culture is wonderful. Illustrations have both a retro and a modern adaptive look and are easy to follow and read. An informative and helpful afterword from the author explaining the comic book character’s origination and American 1940s culture, as well as a sample from the original comic, provides good historical background. Reviewer: Karen Sykeny; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
06/01/2014
Gr 7 Up—Award-winning author Yang and artist Liew tackle a lesser-known aspect of history, breathing new life into the Green Turtle, a 1940s comic book hero. According to lore, the Green Turtle was originally drawn to be Chinese, but publishers quashed artist Chu Hing's plans, and Hing rebelled by drawing his hero so that his face was never visible. The Green Turtle is cast as an unlikely 19-year-old young man, Hank, the son of Chinese immigrants who own a grocery store in 1940s America. When his mother is rescued by a superhero, the loving but overbearing woman decides that it's Hank's fate to become a hero himself, and she does everything in her power to push her son in that direction. Though Hank initially shies away from assuming the role of caped crusader, when tragedy strikes, he's eventually inspired to call himself the Green Turtle, and fight back against gangsters who have been intimidating his family and many others in Chinatown. Liew's scratchy, action-packed illustrations have a nostalgia-tinged vibe ideal for the gritty/hard-boiled setting, and Yang plays expertly with clichés and stereotypes about Chinese culture without ever becoming heavy-handed or obvious. A detail about the four spirits of China, one of whom allies himself with Hank's father and then Hank, injects an element of magic and of Chinese history and mythology that made Yang's American Born Chinese (First Second, 2001) such a layered and complex work. A creative take on the superhero genre. [See author Q&A, p. 20.]—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-30
A golden-age comic superhero returns with a brand-new Asian-American origin story.In 1944, a Chinese-American cartoonist created the Green Turtle, a World War II superhero who may have had a Chinese secret identity. Seventy years later, Yang (Boxers & Saints, 2013) and Liew (Malinky Robot, 2011) have updated the Green Turtle with an openly Asian-American heritage. Growing up in Chinatown, Hank Chu dreams of becoming a grocer like his father. His mother makes other plans for his future, however, after she sees the local, white superhero in action. She sews Hank a costume, tries to help him acquire superpowers and even arranges for him to learn kung fu. Despite her efforts, Hank's superhero debut is a disappointment—one with tragic consequences for his family after it makes them a target for a local gang. Yang's funny and perceptive script offers clever riffs on familiar tropes and explores themes of identity, heroism and belonging. For example, Hank's mother is a hilarious spin on the "tiger mother" stereotype, and in his costume, Hank is often mistaken for "one of those gwailo superheroes." Liew's playful illustrations, especially his characters' cartoonishly exaggerated expressions, complement the story's humor. The first issue of the original 1940s comic book is included in the backmatter.An entertaining and intelligent response to classic superhero stories. (author's note, original comic) (Graphic adventure. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596436978
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 7/15/2014
  • Series: Shadow Hero Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 71,136
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: GN420L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Gene Luen Yang's first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, is now in print in over ten languages and was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Printz Award. Yang's other works include the popular comics adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel diptych Boxers & Saints. The Shadow Hero, the story of the first Asian-American superhero, is his most recent graphic novel. 

 

Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born comic artist and illustrator based in Singapore. He is best known for his work on Vertigo's My Faith in Frankie together with Mike Carey and Marc Hempel, and Marvel's adaptation of Sense and SensibilityThe Shadow Hero, a graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang, is his most recent work. 

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