The Shadow Hero

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Freddy Bendekgey

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew teaches the history of Chinese Americans in comics through the reimagined story of (arguably) the first Asian American superhero. In 1944, Chu F. Hing created The Green Turtle, a superhero who appeared in Blazing Comics, issues #1-5. Chu Hing originally wanted to make the Green Turtle a Chinese hero, but his publisher rejected the idea. At the time, due to the “Yellow Peril,” the media only allowed the Chinese to appear in comics as mystical, comically exaggerated villains. Chu Hing hid the Green Turtle’s face in every panel in which he appeared. It is rumored that Chu Hing did this so that he could still imagine the Green Turtle as a Chinese superhero without needing the publisher’s approval.

This last year, Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew recreated the Green Turtle in a comic miniseries called The Shadow Hero. The protagonist of the story wants to grow up to run his father’s shop, but is pressured to become a superhero by his mother (a stereotypical Chinese Tiger Mom).

This comic miniseries reveals the historical engagement of Chinese Americans in the comics industry and a racist media’s attempt to hide it.

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