The Shadow Hero is based on the adventures of the Green Turtle, who solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero of the 1940s. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity . . . The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.
Now, New York Times–bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has created a riveting, hilarious, and moving origin story for the Green Turtle. With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this gorgeous graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics.
The first issue of The Shadow Hero, "The Green Turtle Chronicles," introduces our hero, Hank. Living with his mother and father in Chinatown, Hank dreams of nothing beyond the small grocery his family runs. Little does he know that his mother has other ideas for her son's future!
Yang further establishes himself as one of YA's leading voices on the Chinese-American experience by inventing a backstory for a forgotten comic-book character who was arguably the first Asian superhero. As explained in a postscript, the Green Turtle blinked into and quickly disappeared from publication during the 1940s superhero boom; he would likely be condemned to obscurity if not for rumors suggesting that creator Chu Hing masked the character's ethnicity so that he could be read as a Chinese superhero (the face of the original Green Turtle is almost always obscured). Yang and Liew run with this theory and cast the Green Turtle as 19-year-old Hank Chu, a second-generation Chinese American who (at his mother's urging) takes up crime fighting, aided by an ancient shadow spirit that gives him limited superpowers and provides some hilarious banter. Racism, romance, humor, and identity all play important roles in Yang and Liew's evocation of Hank's life in pre-WWII San Francisco as they create an origin story that blends classic comics conventions (at one point, Hank's mother pushes him into a toxic spill in an attempt to give him superpowers) with a distinctly Chinese perspective. Ages 12 up.