THE SHADOW HERO by Gene Luen Yang


From the "Green Turtle Chronicles" series, volume 1
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 12 & up
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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)

Pub Date: July 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59643-6978
Page count: 171pp
Publisher: First Second
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014


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