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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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