The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yuan and Sonny Liew

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yuan and Sonny LiewThe Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
Published: First Second Books (2014), Paperback, 176pg
Source: Contest Win
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Sci-fi


The Shadow Hero is based on golden-age comic series The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity...The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.

Now, exactly seventy years later, New York Times-bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has revived this nearly forgotten, pioneering character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.

With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this hilarious and insightful graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics.

I won this in the spring readathon! I picked it because I really liked the idea of both a Chinese-American superhero and a re-imagining of an old (pre?)Golden Age comic, The Green Turtle. The back of The Shadow Hero talks about the original series (which was written by a Chinese-American) and its historical impact, and reproduces the original first issue.1

The re-imagining is MUCH better than The Green Turtle‘s first issue, if only because it’s not called “The Green Turtle” (what a terrible superhero name). Also, we actually get to see the protagonist’s face! And of course the story is so much more exciting, what with it having an actual plot and all. It’s an origin story with gods and magic and gangsters, and it’s fantastic! I’m already a huge fan of 1930s NYC: add superheros and femme fatales and I’m in it to win it.

Plus, it’s not JUST about superheroes and sexy-dangerous women. It’s also about family, differences between first- and second-generation immigrants, prejudice and racism, police corruption, magic and lots more.

The art is great, too. It’s more cartoonish than realistic, though it doesn’t shy away from depicting violence accurately.2 The colors are lovely, giving the book a vintage feel without making it feel like it’s trying to BE a 1930s comic book.

The Shadow Hero is a wonderful homage to an near-forgotten superhero, and it’s ALSO a great modern superhero story. I definitely recommend picking it up!

Read: October 18, 2014

  1. which is actually pretty boring. I’m not a Golden Age comics fan, I guess.
  2. so maybe give it to older kids, if you’re so inclined.

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