The Shadow Hero #1
The Green Turtle Chronicles
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Sonny Liew
Lettered by Janice Chiang
Cover by Sonny Liew
First Second Books
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Cover Price: $0.99
Superheroes can come from any cultural (or terrestrial) background. In fact, as Gene Luen Yang says, “Superheroes are about immigrants.” The Shadow Hero is the newest comic creation by Yang and illustrator, Sonny Liew and together they’ve created the first Chinese American superhero!
Hank Chu is a Chinese American teenager who lives in Chinatown in the 1930’s. Most of his time is spent working with his father in his parent’s grocery store — and he loves it. Although Hank has found his own happiness with this lifestyle, his mother does not feel the same way. With lofty dreams of America before she immigrated as a child, her ideas were shattered when she arrived and found it less desirable than expected. As she grew older, she chose to settle in terms of marriage, work, and leisure time.
Now, as Hank’s mother discovers that there are superheroes in existence, she finds a newfound passion and fervor for this particular aspect of America. But how can she involve herself in a life adhering to extraordinary heroics? And how does Hank fit in?
Yang and Liew do a great job at shedding light on the protagonist’s family history in this first issue. The highs and lows of the Chu family are spotlighted and provide exemplary character moments. The illustrations marry the story’s style well with over-exaggerated caricature-like features; however, the comic as a whole seems to be missing something.
While this first issue does set up the story of The Shadow Hero, we don’t learn much regarding the character himself; there isn’t a whole lot happening in the comic other than back story. By no means does this condemn the comic; on the contrary, the dysfunctional family dynamic explored is fashioned with excellent precision within a short period of time. In my opinion, the creators would have been better off tossing aside the comic issue and giving the readers what they want: a full picture of the story in a trade paperback. With a trade, these omissions about the main character would be much more forgivable. In its current state, I’m not sure I’ll continue on reading issue by issue, but I’ll certainly consider picking the whole book upon completion.