Look out, criminals! Beware evildoers! Fear the fist justice. This city is protected by the Green Turrrtllllle! Wait... um, who? The Green Turtle. Believe it or not, he's the first Asian American superhero, sort of.
Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew's graphic novel The Shadow Hero re-introduces the Green Turtle, an obscure Golden Age comic book character that has fallen into public domain. Created by Chu F. Hing in the 1940s, and first appearing in the pages of Blazing Comics, he is arguably the first Asian American superhero.
Legend has it, Chu Hing wanted the Green Turtle to be a Chinese American superhero, but his publishers didn't find that idea very marketable. So Mr. Hing conveniently got around this by drawing the character so that we never saw the Green Turtle's face -- we could imagine the hero as the artist intended: Asian American.
The Green Turtle's original run only lasted a few issues, but Gene and Sonny have revived the character with an all-new Asian American origin story, exploring the immigrant experience through the genre of superheroes. I was fortunate enough to receive an early look at the book, and it's thrilling, hilarious and moving. The story of the first Asian American superhero is so much better than I could have even imagined.
The first issue of The Shadow Hero debuts this week, and will be released over the next six months as digital editions, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple iBooks for $0.99. A trade paperback collecting all six issues will be available from First Second Books on July 15, just in time for San Diego Comic-Con.
In honor of The Shadow Hero's debut, Gene has been sharing some really cool behind-the-scenes material from the making of book on his blog. Check out this links to see side-by-side comparisons of the script, thumbnail sketches, as well as Sonny Liew's final art:
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 1
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 2
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 3
Secret Origin of The Shadow Hero Part 4
Shadow Hero Character Sketches Set#1
Shadow Hero: The Backgrounds Strike Back
Shadow Hero: Enter Mr.Han?
For further information about The Shadow Hero and Gene Luen Yang's other books, visit his website.