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The Shadow Hero [Kindle Edition]

Gene Luen Yang , Sonny Liew
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the comics boom of the 1940s, a legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics characters. 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 super hero.

The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but the acclaimed author of American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang, has finally revived this character in Shadow Hero, a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the Green Turtle.
With artwork by Sonny Liew, this gorgeous, funny comics adventure for teens is a new spin on the long, rich tradition of American comics lore.



Product Description

Review

Praise for The Shadow Hero A golden-age comic superhero returns with a brand new Asian-American origin story . . . An entertaining and intelligent response to classic superhero stories. Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW: 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 with a distinctly Chinese perspective. - Publishers Weekly Praise for Boxers & Saints: Read this, and come away shaking.--Newbery Honor-winning author Gary Schmidt Masterful. --Dave Eggers Remarkable.--The New York Times At once humorous and heartbreaking. --The LA Times Epic. --The Washington Post

About the Author

Gene Luen Yang's first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, is now in print in over ten languages and was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Printz Award. Yang's other works include the popular comics adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel diptych Boxers & Saints. The Shadow Hero, the story of the first Asian-American superhero is his most recent graphic novel. Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born comic artist and illustrator based in Singapore. He is best known for his work on Vertigo's My Faith in Frankie together with Mike Carey and Marc Hempel, and Marvel's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.The Shadow Hero, a graphic novel written by Gene Luen Yang, is his most recent work.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 45929 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: First Second (15 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LDR85LK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #808,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American Chinese superhero 5 July 2014
By Sam Quixote TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Green Turtle was a Golden Age character created during World War 2 by American/Chinese comics creator Chu Hing for Blazing Comics. Green Turtle was a defender for China (an American ally) against the invading Japanese army who had a sidekick: Burma Boy!

Though Green Turtle's outfit was distinctly Western superhero with the mask/cape/pants combo, the publisher was unwilling to ever show Green Turtle's face as Asian, instead opting to hide it every chance he got (though to be fair, because we never saw his face we could never be sure he WAS Asian). And when Burma Boy asked Green Turtle about his origins, he was interrupted before he could explain and, once the character's series was cancelled after five issues, his origin went unexplained - until now.

Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew's The Shadow Hero revisits this long forgotten (probably) Asian/American superhero and finally gives him his origin story. The character had many odd features like his skin turning to a bright pink periodically to having a shadow creature follow him everywhere, all of which Yang brilliantly explains in this charming book.

Hua Chu moves from China to the city of San Incendio in America with a dream of falling in love with a dashing man, living a glamorous life with movie stars, and basically having a totally different life to her parents. But it doesn't work out like that. Unfortunately Chinatown in San Incendio is run by the tongs (Chinese gangs) who extort the immigrants in return for protection, and Hua is married off to a man she doesn't love and forced into a life of servitude.

Years pass and her son Hank grows up, working in the family grocery store while Hua works as a housemaid to a wealthy white family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese superhero trade paperback 22 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This comic book collection features a Chinese super-hero, the Green Turtle (that’s the name that he finally ends up with) establishing himself in pre-war USA. It is a reverential throwback to a real 1940s comic.

It is well-illustrated and the main character is well-developed: there is a good deal of humour and some wonderful secondary characters, including other super-heroes., family members and the Chinese criminal Class.

The style of drawing is reminiscent of the French “bande dessinée” tradition. It is fluid and easy to follow.

Thoroughly enjoyable and a lot of fun – I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a nice easy read.
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Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this a lot. It was a fun romp. I'm a big fan of pulp comics from the 30s/40s, a fan of Asian-themed fiction and a fan of Gene Luen Yang so needless to say I was looking forward to this and expected to like it. It's written in the good old style of the pulp comics from that age and is the origin story of a real comic character "The Green Turtle" which ran for a total of five issues. It shows a favourable depiction of the Chinese for the first time during this period as this was a time when the extreme stereotypes had usually been portrayed. But because china was an ally in the war (the reason for this comic) a distinction is made between Chinese and Japanese with the "Japs" getting the stereotypical racist charactures instead. Of course, lots of racial epithets are slung around for everyone including "mick" and "chink", for realism. Overall, a fun comic hero romp. What I particularly found fascinating was the author's note at the back telling what he has been able to find out about the original author of the series and his intentions (not much is known) and the rumours surrounding this comic. The piece de resistance is a scan of the very first original issue of "The Green Turtle" which was a hoot in itself. After I'm done this review I'm going to see if this series has been uploaded to one of those golden age comic websites; I'd love to read the whole thing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Surprising, Funny, Great 17 Sept. 2014
By Kate B.
Format:Paperback
Great story with appropriately styled art, with some good unexpected twists and fun sense of comedic timing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This one's got a green cape and a real bad sunburn!" 20 May 2014
By H. Bala - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've got a new favorite thing, and it's THE SHADOW HERO, a boss graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. And it's the backstory that first got me. It's fascinating stuff: In 1944, during the heyday of the golden age of comic books, the obscure publishing company, Rural Home, wanted to strike while the iron was hot and hired a cartoonist named Chu Hing to create the main attraction for their series BLAZING COMICS. And Chu Hing came up with the World War II costumed vigilante, the Green Turtle. The most unique element about the Green Turtle is that he was the first Asian-American superhero.

The Green Turtle evidenced no obvious superpower, relying mostly on his rocket plane and his two good fists. He went around in a mask and a massive cape with a turtle design. He defended America's ally, China, against the encroaching Japanese forces. One odd conceit about him was that his seemingly ubiquitous shadow resembled a cheerful giant turtle that no one seemed to notice.

The awesome rumor goes like this: Chu Hing was pushing to make a Chinese-American superhero, except that Rural Home ixnayed that intent pretty quick. So Chu Hing went the passive-aggressive route and introduced another odd conceit. He drew the Turtle in such a way that never once did the reader get a good look at his face. Too, whenever the Turtle was about to explain his origin story to his sidekick, Burma Boy, something always came up to interrupt him. Seven decades later, writer Gene Luen Yang notes that even his extensive research is unable to confirm this rumor. But to quote THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Gene Luen Yang - whom you may know from his acclaimed graphic novels American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints Boxed Set - and artist Sonny Liew (MY FAITH IN FRANKIE, Malinky Robot TP) give the Green Turtle his origin story, one that's steeped in cultural identity and in the zeitgeist of the pre-war 1940s era. The venue is relocated from China to the States, to the city of San Incendio. Our guy is Hank Chu, an unassuming 19-year-old boy who's content to work in his father's grocery store in Chinatown. And, like Lester Girls, Hank proves to be a reluctant hero. I really like Hank's colorful supporting cast, none more colorful than his mom who sailed to our shores as a hopeful young girl but who quickly sours on the American dream. So, for most of her life, she's been this embittered woman. But an encounter with a heroic flying man - this world's Superman avatar - reinvigorates her zest and her ambition. Seizing an opportunity for fame and fortune, she sets about turning her unwilling son into a superhero. We're in for a fun montage of her putting her son thru a bunch of outlandish experiments, one of which has the peculiar fallout of turning her son's skin, when wet, to an odd pink color that glows in the dark.

I love how the writer explains away the turtle shadow. And, no, I don't think I should go more into it.

Sonny Liew's visuals perfectly complement Yang's offbeat storytelling. Liew's art, with its delicate, sort of cartoony lines and its vitality, stylistically evokes an authentic feel of comic books as drawn in the 1940's.

The original 1940s comic lasted five issues and then folded back into obscurity. I'm anticipating the modern-day run to go longer because it's good enough to. The creative team's worldbuilding and mythology incorporate themes of family, heritage, insight into life as an immigrant, terrific humor, Eastern mysticism, and an inventive shuffling of superhero tropes. I won't say what, but the Green Turtle does have a super-power after all, but it's one that's limited and born out of not thinking things thru. What a charming, unpredictable read. When I flipped to the last page I just wanted to keep on reading. The closing panels of THE SHADOW HERO dovetail nicely into the stories told in the old BLAZING COMICS as the Turtle is recruited into the great world war. And how awesome is it that this trade also reprints the original Green Turtle story from BLAZING COMICS #1? There's also Gene Luen Yang's 5-paged afterword in which he details the Green Turtle's backstory and how he and Sonny Liew came to be involved with reviving this forgotten hero.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp-revival done right! 10 Aug. 2014
By Jonathan Strawn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a great pulp superhero story, the likes of which modern reboots the "The Shadow" or "The Lone Ranger" attempt but rarely succeed in pulling off. I was skeptical of yet another dusting off of a golden age comics character, but Gene Luen Yang is rightfully acclaimed for his past work on books like "American Born Chinese," so I expected it to be well told at the least.

I should not have been worried. Yang and artist Sonny Liew tell a fast-paced and deep story that never gets lost in its own complications. The main character is a lovable doofus, helped along by an equally lovable and also somewhat doofy spirit. The action sequences are clever and well rendered, and early 20th century Chinatown(in what seems to be a fictional version of San Francisco) is lovingly rendered and full of pulp details. Some of the more obvious are the cop with the yellow trenchcoat and lantern jaw, or the genial Superman analog flying around dispensing polite justice. Some concepts are wonderful and original(to my knowledge): the 3 female assassins with color-coordinated names and outfits were a fun and not over-done concept.

Finally, the resolution upends your expectations and builds to something truly moving and thought-provoking. This isn't a reinvention of the superhero; its a superhero told from a distinct point of view within a specific cultural experience.

A final note: this collection includes a re-print of the first adventure of "The Green Turtle" from the golden age. It isn't great, but the commentary points out some very interesting stylistic choices that make it for a fun companion piece.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A playful modern twist on old superhero cliches 8 July 2014
By DJ Joe Sixpack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The Shadow Hero"
Written & Illustrated by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
(First Second Books, 2014)
. . . .

The set-up for this one seems almost too good to be true: author/cartoonist Gene Luen Yang rediscovered an obscure WWII-era comicbook character, the Green Turtle, who was apparently created by an Asian-American artist and was intended to be the first Asian-American superhero, a revolutionary step in an industry which primarily depicted Asians as either comedic fools (ala Chop-Chop, in the "Blackhawk" books) or as satanic, bucktoothed heathens (as in every caricature of Japanese soldiers ever...) Legend has it that the book's publisher forbade the cartoonist to make the Turtle explicitly Asian, so in the few episodes published, he always appears with with his back turned to the readers - we can't tell what his ethnicity is, because his face is actually never seen.

Anyway, when contemporary artists Sonny Liew and Gene Luen Yang discovered the Green Turtle, they came up with the idea of revamping and modernizing the character, reclaiming him for modern audiences. They came up with a new origin and placed the Turtle in a comedic yet realistic scenario -- here, he is the teenage son of Chinese-American immigrants, a nice boy named Hank who helps his dad out in the store while his overbearing mother tries to direct both men's lives, even going so far as to push Hank into becoming a superhero proving herself to be the ultimate "tiger mom" (including her acting as his masked chauffeur, ala Cato in the Green Hornet) The domestic backdrop provides the comedy, with playful tweaks of Asian-American stereotypes and the outdated conventions of pulp-era pop culture, such as a family friend with the unfunny but punny name Wun Too, and the like. The book gives a fully-formed look at middle-class life in a fictionalized 1930s Chinatown, giving a few more layers of emotional and social depth than what audiences in the 'Thirties would have seen.

Plus, the book itself is a good read, with Hank on a slow learning curve when it comes to crimefighting and derring-do, yet persevering nonetheless. This was an entertaining and inclusive book, recommended for all readers, with a small caveat that racist language pops up now and then, as a way to show the discrimination that Asian Americans faced decades ago... The tip of the iceberg, really, but perhaps enough to ruffle a few feathers today. My only real complaint about this book is that while there is one episode of the original Green Turtle series reprinted in the back, I wish they'd included more if not all of the weird old comic's brief run... It wasn't a great comic, but this still seems like a missed opportunity. Anyway, more good stuff from Gene Luen Yang -- if you liked his other books, you'll enjoy this one as well. (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply smart (and more important than most folks probably realize) 9 Jun. 2014
By Sean Rueter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yang & Liew's expansion of a hero created in the "grind 'em out" publishing industry that made money off of the Golden Age of superheroes would be a great read even if it weren't also leveling the playing field by giving Asian-Americans a classic superhero with whom to identify.

Their hero's journey from grocer's son to caped crusader is as humorous for all ages as a Pixar film. The pathos behind his origin is a staple of the superhero genre, yet combines with elements of China's cultural history to inform the character's ethos. The action is thrilling; the romance touching.

All of those things would make it great fun, but when you get to the back matter and the actual stories that they've used as the basis for their version of The Green Turtle...the plot thickens. The source material adds layers of meaning to their work, often times accomplishing one of the things described in the paragraph before while simultaneously addressing something the character's creator faced in the 40s, or that Asian Americans and other minority groups face to this day.

There are benefits to this book regardless of what angle or lens you view it from. And when one of those is benefits is that it's an entertaining comic book - how can you go wrong?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American Chinese superhero 15 July 2014
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Green Turtle was a Golden Age character created during World War 2 by American/Chinese comics creator Chu Hing for Blazing Comics. Green Turtle was a defender for China (an American ally) against the invading Japanese army who had a sidekick: Burma Boy!

Though Green Turtle’s outfit was distinctly Western superhero with the mask/cape/pants combo, the publisher was unwilling to ever show Green Turtle’s face as Asian, instead opting to hide it every chance he got (though to be fair, because we never saw his face we could never be sure he WAS Asian). And when Burma Boy asked Green Turtle about his origins, he was interrupted before he could explain and, once the character’s series was cancelled after five issues, his origin went unexplained - until now.

Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero revisits this long forgotten (probably) Asian/American superhero and finally gives him his origin story. The character had many odd features like his skin turning to a bright pink periodically to having a shadow creature follow him everywhere, all of which Yang brilliantly explains in this charming book.

Hua Chu moves from China to the city of San Incendio in America with a dream of falling in love with a dashing man, living a glamorous life with movie stars, and basically having a totally different life to her parents. But it doesn’t work out like that. Unfortunately Chinatown in San Incendio is run by the tongs (Chinese gangs) who extort the immigrants in return for protection, and Hua is married off to a man she doesn’t love and forced into a life of servitude.

Years pass and her son Hank grows up, working in the family grocery store while Hua works as a housemaid to a wealthy white family. Until one day when she’s saved by a superhero, the Anchor of Justice, and Hua comes to life for the first time in years, knowing what she must do: her son must become a superhero!

But while the Anchor of Justice has superpowers (he’s basically Superman), Hank is just a shopboy, content to stock shelves and raise a family. So begins Hua’s experiments to turn Hank into a superhero and Hank’s journey from shopboy to - the Green Turtle!

The Shadow Hero is a well written and nicely-paced classic superhero story. All the elements you’d expect for Hank to become a hero are there - the evil gangsters like Mock Beak and Ten Grand, the American lawman (kinda like Jim Gordon) with the appropriately corny name of Detective Lawful, and the tragic murder that spurs Hank on to make sure injustice never goes unpunished.

There are some unique elements to Hank’s story like the strong Chinese stamp upon it that does away with any ambiguity and defines him clearly as an Asian/American superhero, and the origins of his only superpower are interesting - all of which are really great. But it’s the stuff we’ve seen before, like those things I mentioned earlier, that didn’t make me as involved in the story as I’d like. Parts of the book are original but a lot of them aren’t.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression: this is written really well by Gene Luen Yang, drawn beautifully by Sonny Liew, and this is a perfectly fine classic superhero story. It comes down to two personal preferences for me: 1) I’ve read a LOT of superhero stories and Green Turtle doesn’t stand out to me as anything that special, and 2) street level superhero characters just don’t fascinate me that much. Green Hornet, The Spirit, and more recent characters created in that style like Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle, are all characters that I just don’t “get”, for lack of a better word. They’re ok, but not particularly interesting to me.

It’s terrific that Yang/Liew have taken a character from so long ago and done justice to him and his creator Chu Hing with this book. The Golden Age is full of curios like Green Turtle that shouldn’t be forgotten. The book just wasn’t for me but I can appreciate the skill, ingenuity and passion that went into it. The Shadow Hero will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy books like Eisner’s The Spirit, the Green Hornet, or other characters along those lines.
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