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The Shadow Hero Paperback – July 15, 2014
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From School Library Journal
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
*Starred Review* In the 1940s, the golden age of comic books, Chu Hing, a little-known Chinese American cartoonist—very likely the first ever—created the Green Turtle, a superhero tasked with protecting China from invading Japanese forces. Though the comic ran for only five issues, Yang uses Chu Hing’s Green Turtle as a launching pad for this story of young Hank Chu, a Chinese American teen in the 1930s who becomes a hero in his Chinatown neighborhood. In a loving spoof of classic superhero origin stories, Hank is exposed to toxic radiation, visits a mystic, and is bitten by an animal used for science experiments before simply working hard at becoming a good fighter. It isn’t until he is faced with real tragedy and inherits the wish-granting turtle spirit who lived in his father’s shadow that he becomes a real hero, the Green Turtle. There’s plenty of humor in this lively, entertaining adventure story, and it capitalizes on the dashing bravado of golden-age comics, particularly in Liew’s stylish pages, full of inky outlines and dramatic paneling. At its heart, though, this book is a subtle comment on China’s changing cultural landscape and growing multiculturalism in America. A lovingly tongue-in-cheek homage. Grades 8-12. --Sarah Hunter
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Yang and Liew created this story in order to honor the creator of The Green Turtle (Chu Hing) by writing and drawing The Green Turtle as Hing had first envisioned him: as the first Chinese-American comic book hero. In the process, the author/illustrators of "The Shaldow Hero" fill in the gaps regarding the life and origins of The Green Turtle by thoroughly integrating Chinese American culture in to every aspect of the Green Turtle's story.
I bought this after reading a free comic from Panda Express. At first I wasn't expecting much (from the free comic) but it proved to be an enjoyable story with interesting & relatable characters.
I enjoyed it enough that I sought out and purchased the graphic novel (which isn't something I do often).
I also feel the story tells a good story about a culture, I personally wasn't that familiar with, which gave it an interesting extra dimension I found enjoyable.