Author: Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!
I LOVE Gene Luen Yang’s stories. There’s something about them that stays with me after I complete something he writes — he always seems to ask the reader to have an open-mind when participating in one of his worlds. This time, however, we have a world that isn’t entirely his own, but with the help of Sonny Liew, they give a neglected Golden Age hero the treatment he deserves.
First off, I adored the origin story presented in this graphic novel for the Green Turtle. I love that Hank is completely pressured by his tiger mom to become a superhero because it would give him the fame and glory that she feels he deserves in some ways. His family comes from humble beginnings, though his father was possessed by a spirit, which was then “passed down” to Hank. The Green Turtle may not have any notable powers, but he’s awesome at avoiding bullets, so that’s something right?
I really enjoyed the interaction between the characters in this story, particularly the relationship between Hank and his father. There is such a genuine level of respect between the two of them and its wonderfully portrayed. You get a sense that all the characters in the story are harmoniously woven together without having to question why a character just appears in the story (like some comics do). Plus, Sonny Liew’s artwork does an amazing job of capturing all the emotion and zaniness within the story.
I admittedly had never heard of the Green Turtle until after I had read this comic. I loved and appreciated Yang and Liew’s origin story for this forgotten hero, and I feel like they did it in such a way to remind readers about how Golden Age comics lacked a sense of diversity (or at least feared it). Hank and his family are completely unforgettable and the history lesson to take from this comic alone makes it worth being checked out.