Rummanah Aasi
 In the 1940s a superhero named The Green Turtle was created by unknown cartoonist named Chu Hing. The Green Turtle didn't have notable superpowers but he seemed to be able to avoid bullets. He was an superhero, defending China in the World War II against the invading Japanese army. The story goes that Hing wanted his superhero to be Chinese but the publisher didn't agree and asked him to make his character white. Seemingly Hing was not happy about it which might explain why Green Turtle's face is never to been seen in original works, always covered with something; mask, his own arm, weapons etc. 
  Unfortunately, Green Turtle never made it in the market which left the legacy containing only few volumes of the superhero adventures. However, there remained unanswered questions about the Green Turtle: why and how did he become a superhero? Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew recreate the origin story of the Green Turtle in The Shadow Hero. Many thanks to First Second and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy of the book.


Description: In this origin story for the classic comic book hero the Green Turtle, Hank, the nineteen-year-old son of Chinese immigrants, resists his mother's attempts to make him a superhero at first, but when tragedy strikes he assumes the role of a caped crusader. Aided by one of the four spirits of Chinese mythology, Hank becomes the Green Turtle and sets out to rid Chinatown of the gangsters who have intimidated everyone for years and murdered his father.

Review: The Shadow Hero is a creative take on the superhero genre. Instead of a science experiment gone wrong which leads to incredible powers, we are given elements of magic, Chinese history, and mythology. Yang and Liew tackle and create the origin story of a lesser known superhero named the Green Turtle. In this graphic novel The Green Turtle is cast as an unlikely 19-year-old young man, Hank, the son of Chinese immigrants who own a grocery store in 1940s America. When his mother is rescued by a superhero, the loving but overbearing woman decides that it's Hank's fate to become a hero himself, and she does everything in her power to push her son in that direction. Though Hank initially shies away from assuming the role of caped crusader, when tragedy strikes, he's eventually inspired to call himself the Green Turtle, and fight back against gangsters who have been intimidating his family and many others in Chinatown.
  The action packed illustrations have a nostalgic feel to them and sets up the gritty/hard boiled setting of Chinatown. The text plays expertly with cliches and stereotypes about Chinese culture without ever becoming heavy-handed or obvious and actually gave the graphic novel some depth. I really liked the inclusion of the immigrant experience along with learning new things about the Chinese mythology such as the four spirits of China, one of whom allies himself with Hank's father and then aides Hank in help fighting the bad guys. The Shadow Hero is an enjoyable read and perfect for those to pick up while they wait for their favorite superhero movie to hit the movie screens.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language and some violence. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.


If you like this book try: Secret identities: the Asian American superhero anthology edited by Jeff Yang
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I'm not huge on superheroes (unless they're Thor and played by Chris Hemsworth - then I'm a HUGE fan), mostly because their stories seem to go on forever and I start to lose interest. BUT this is an origin story, and I think I would really enjoy this. I love finding out how things came to be, so learning about Hank and his journey to becoming the Green Turtle would be fun:)


  2. Oh I think this one looks fun. I love super hero stories!


  3. Oh this is PERFECT for my wittle cousins! Seriously, they love the superhero stuff.


  4. Aylee Says:

    Huh, very interesting background information - I had no idea! Very cool that the authors have recreated the Green Turtle and did a good job with it.


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