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Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology Paperback – April 14, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; 1st edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159558398X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583987
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This anthology about Asian superheroes drawn exclusively by Asian comic artists is a noble concept, but the submissions very greatly in tone, concept, length and overall quality. The book is broken down into sections by theme—historical concepts, one-page hero pitches, a section on girl power and another focusing on ordinary heroes (some of whom happen to have supernatural powers). Many works in the book, such as The Hibakusha—Japanese children born after Hiroshima who gain superpowers—take themselves very seriously. The highlight is The Blue Scorpion & Chung by Yang (American Born Chinese) and Sonny Liew. In a thinly veiled parody of the Green Hornet, the Blue Scorpion's chauffeur is a talented Korean man doing most of the work for his alcoholic employer. The 12-page short effectively confronts race with just the right amount of humor and cynicism, while simultaneously telling a satisfying story. The fake comic cover The Y-Men says everything many of the short stories are trying to, but does so with more effective humor in just one page. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

The editors of this highly alternative (to standard stereotypes, that is) comics collection define Asian American to include not just Chinese and Japanese but all the other heritages from India on east, representatives of which have been sidekicks at best and villains more often in American superhero comics. The first illustrated page establishes the predominant satiric tone. It’s the cover of a comic book, The Y-Men, featuring “The Lamest Stupor-Zeroes of All!”—to wit, Four Eyes; “oriental” vamp Madame X; Riceman, slinging globs of “pork-fried pain”; Kamikaze; and Coolie, whose “sweaty feet . . . are express tickets to Hell!” A standout longer contribution is Gene Yang and Sonny Liew’s “The Blue Scorpion and Chung,” in which the latter is the long-suffering driver-sidekick for a foul-mouthed, drunken, white-caped crime fighter. Uniformly energetic, the art ranges from mainstream-comics bravura to manga-influenced sassiness to alt-comics mannerism, and the kinds of superpowers on view are equally varied. Narrative coherence goes AWOL now and then, but the satire usually amuses and sometimes strikes deeper, to the heart. --Ray Olson

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I just wish I had these stories to read when I was growing up.
Guitardude25
I admire the approach taken by the creators to develop a piece written with AA as the target audience.
Patience Yee
I really enjoyed almost ALL of the stories that were told here.
Fearless

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Manuel Zuniga on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Words are really inadequate to describe the import of this work. Revolutionary, historic, groundbreaking? The feeling I had when it was delivered was like holding an advance copy of Takaki's work, "Strangers From a Different Shore". I was holding something that hadn't been seen before. After reading it, I was speechless, because for the first time in this genre, I saw myself reflected unapologetically in the stories and artwork contained in the pages of this book. I never thought I'd live to see the day where I had the opportunity to read about APA superheroes and eventually, share them with my children. An excellent job by everyone involved in this project, and a "must own" for the personal libraries of anyone interested in Asian-American studies, modern mythology and folklore/oral histories. After picking some copies up for your friends and family, ask your local library to carry it. Smart, witty, and visually stunning, I hope this title is only the vanguard and herald of more to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charles Castleberry on August 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, the Kindle version of this book is too low resolution to make out some of the text. I was only a few pages into it before I ran into a panel with a narrative block and a word bubble which both used small lettering and were both too low resolution to read. I'm using the iPad 2 Kindle app, but I've seen the same sort of problem on the Kindle itself, with some manga and with illustrations in text-based Kindle books. The scan resolution just isn't high enough for fine detail that you could easily read on a printed page. And zooming the picture, of course, just gives you a blurry larger image, so no help there.

I'm returning this and buying the print version instead, which I'm sure will be excellent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Length: 0:14 Mins
Secret Identities is one of the few comic anthologies I enjoy tremendously. There are 48 chapters, all drawn by Asian Americans -- of course -- but a few are 1-page superhero profiles and stories. So really, there are only 40 longer stories.

For most of the 1-page stories, it's an artist talking about the concept of superheroes, Asian Americans and the influence of Asia on western comics. The longer stories are really fun, bizarre and creative.

The book starts off with a comic book cover art of "The Y-Men", featuring super lame superheroes with quotes like "Feel the suicidal wrath of KamiKazei", "Sweaty Feet of Coolie are express ticket to hell", "The myopic blasts of Four Eyes" and "Special delivery from Riceman pork-fried pain". This pretty much sets the satiric tone for the book, although there are more serious stories as well.

My favourite story is "James", written by Michael Kang and drawn by Erwin Haya. James's power is super-agility and super-strength. His partner has the ability to emit light, like a light bulb. Somehow amazingly, James began to lose the limelight (pun intended) to his partner and his career crashed. In the end, he had to start over going to like N.O.A.S.S* and A.S.S.H.O* networking events. *Which translate to National Organization of Supers and Sidekicks, and Asian Student Super Hero Organization.

My second favourite "A day at Customeco". This family is shopping at a groceries supermarket dedicated to superhero shoppers and suddenly a how-dumb-can-you-get villain strikes! Now imagine every superhero rushing in for the kill.

The story concept and creativity are really commendable. The superheroes are shown in many different aspect of life, in different communities, going about their daily chores.
Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Fearless on July 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Get yourself a copy!! I Highly recommend it. I really enjoyed almost ALL of the stories that were told here. Most of the stories were told by actual incidents using superhero characters. The stories are all told through the views from Asian Americans perspective. The stories have very strong messages. I wished they actually produced these characters in actual comic books, because Asian Americans doesn't have any cool superheroes all they get are the stereotypical characters such as a martial arts master, ninja, samurais etc, nothing further. It is as if they are restricted of ever becoming a superhero. This book shows that Asian Americans can be and need superheroes too.
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The art style and story styles vary greatly in this anthology so it is uneven.

There was an attempt to create an inter-connected-ness in the book but it didn't engage me enough to even finish the book.

It could be a matter of taste (meaning it could just be me).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patience Yee on May 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Powerful and approachable. A pioneer in storytelling. Secret Identities (SI) features Asian American (AA) characters in plots launched from current and historical AA events. Like a superhero, SI strikes social atrocities without any fear. Harsh realities ranging from interment, to detainees, to immigration are treated with respect and dignity. It speaks of our past and inspires the future.

This anthology goes beyond the usual fare in Asian American literature, beyond the pains of immigrant assimilation and of youth straddling two cultures. The stories probe far beyond individual experiences and delve into the social practices and implication of Asian American life. Questioning and calling into examination institutionalized racism and the undercurrent of power against AA.

I admire the approach taken by the creators to develop a piece written with AA as the target audience. Too often, contemporary Asian American literature becomes a shout of angry with the goal to illuminate our hardship for non Asian Americans to gain an understanding of our sphere. While SI does serve to bridge the gap, more importantly it captures the collective Asian American psyche. Multiple readings are needed for the full depth of the intricacies to emerge.

Secret Identities is more than a book. It's a product of Asian American joining up and declaring the success and vibrancy of our population.

I hope sales will be successful enough for a second volume to follow. I look forward to seeing the current stories such as the Hibakusha develop further as well as increase inclusion of Southeast and South Asian stories. I want to pre-order copies of Volume 2 today!

~Patience Yee
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