secret identities superhero contest winner: the sneak

Here's the second installment of the winning entries from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This is THE SNEAK by Kevin Cheung, as envisioned b Jerry Ma. Here's are all the details...


And now, The Sneak. We really liked the idea of a B-boy hero, and thought Kevin did a good job of establishing the character; the main things that we felt needed tweaking here involved tightening up the origin story (originally Richie just finds his super-powered sneakers in an alley--gotta amp up the drama a little more than that!) and shaping the powers a little. In Kevin's submission, Richie's powers involved transmuting and manipulating surrounding objects based on his emotions; we changed them to blades that project Richie's emotions into similar kinds of energy (anger generates heat, etc.). The energy blades also tie back to Richie's B-boy name, SAM or Samurai.

Meanwhile, SECRET IDENTITIES art director Jerry volunteered to bring The Sneak to life as soon as he saw the outline. Here are his own thoughts on the hero:

"As a big fan of Planet B-Boy and America's Best Dance Crew, I really wanted to draw this character—especially since I'm actually working on my own B-Boy type of comic as well right now. Unfortunately I'm NOT a graffiti artist...which should be painfully obvious here. But I thought it was necessary for the character to have a 'street' type of logo. So whenever The Sneak becomes big time, he can get a real street artist to redo that for me. Maybe my boy John Franzese (artist for the story MEET JOE in SI) would like to take a stab at that, eh? Lastly, I thought after watching Planet B-Boy again to get into the mood for this drawing, that the 'big' hair was like...necessary. And since he's dubbed 'Sam,' I thought it'd be cool if he wore one of my samurai tshirts. Hope this sketch captures what Kevin had in mind when writing up this character!"


The Sneak by Kevin Cheung

It's the early Eighties, and while the suits and labels haven't discovered it, the underground hip-hop movement is going strong. Richie Leung, an incoming freshman at the University of New York, encounters this rich new culture by accident, when he -- literally -- runs into a B-boy in performing his moves for a small crowd on the sidewalk in front of his dorm; accepting the awestruck Richie's apology, the B-boy invites him to a jam in the South Bronx, where he watches a dominating crew known as The Fresh Ones crush the competition. After the battle, he asks to join the crew and learn their moves. They reluctantly agree, giving him the B-boy name "Samurai" -- or SAM for short.

A few years later, Richie has become one of the crew's leaders, having spent all of his spare time learning, practicing and creating innovative moves. His passion has made him a master, but it's also led to his flunking out of UNY.

When his perfectionist immigrant father discovers that Richie has been spending his time dancing rather than studying, he calls his son home for an epic confrontation. During the fight, his father takes the shoes Richie removed before coming into the apartment -- at least there's one Chinese tradition Richie has continued to follow -- and hurls them out the window, telling him he's ashamed of him, and disowning him from the family. Richie tells him he doesn't care; he has a new family anyway: his brothers in the crew.

But as Richie seeks out his fellow Fresh Ones at their respective homes and hangouts, hoping for somewhere to stay -- and to borrow a fresh pair of shoes -- he's horrified to find each of them dead... murdered, without a clue or explanation as to why. Is it jealousy? Revenge? Something else? All Richie knows is that he's the sole survivor of his brothers -- and he'll only stay that way if he can keep one step ahead of whoever's been hunting them down.

And then, Richie finds himself attacked by dark, faceless figures. Fighting them off with modified B-boy moves, he races through the city, using his skills to dodge and acrobatically avoid his pursuers. Then he makes one bad move -- running down a treacherous blind alley into a dead end. His feet are bloodied by the full speed chase; the alley is full of broken glass and jagged pieces of metal, and the sound of his hunters is growing louder. That's when he notices shadowy figure before him, standing in the buzzing glow of an overhead neon light. As Richie watches, his heart pounding, the figure kneels down on one knee and lays out a pair of sneakers -- a brand new pair of Jags, with emblems on the side that he's never seen before. And then the figure fades into the shadows. Just before his mysterious benefactor disappears, Richie catches a glimpse of his face. He could swear that he looks just like the B-boy who'd invited him to his first jam.

Richie pulls the kicks on, just as his attackers pour into the alley. As they swarm him from all directions, he feels fear in his heart -- and there's a flash as the emblems on his shoes glow with a sudden light, and a pair of dull green blades appear in his hands, which when he swings them against his attackers seems to paralyze them, sending them stumbling to the ground. His fear turns to excitement, and the emblems on his shoes and the blades in his hands turn yellow, and strike now with a shocking electrical charge. As his confidence grows, the excitement turns to anger -- and the blades glow red with searing heat.

The attackers flee before Richie's newfound ability to turn his emotions into energy. Now, as B-boy Sam turned superpowered street samurai The Sneak, Richie decides to turn the tables, tracking down his attackers, uncovering why they've targeted him and his brothers -- and getting his revenge.

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