Independent Comic Spotlight: The Shadow Hero
Welcome back to another thrilling installment of Independent Comic Spotlight. This round, we’ve got an original graphic novel about a secret origin of a character who was sadly almost lost to history: The Green Turtle, the first Asian-American superhero. I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, because a) it’s not out yet and b) you really need to read it for yourself to see just how great the finished product came out. National Book Award finalist, L. A. Times Book Prize Winner, and Eisner Award nominee Gene Luen Yang teams with artist extraordinaire Sonny Liew to tell a tale that seems different on the surface, but really is just as good as the origins we’ve all grown up reading over and over again.
The main concept of an ongoing battle for the soul of China is a fun premise, what with its various spirits (in the form of their greatest animals and beings) latching onto the shadows of great people, but there is so much complexity involved in the socioeconomic behind-the-scenery battles during wartime that it really is a stroke of brilliance to combine it with modern-day superheroics. The title character is immediately likeable and his mother, though harsh and blunt, steals every scene she is in. The father borders on stereotype at times, but once you find out his true story, the reader is immediately immersed in this world. It blends the perfect amount of real life with that of a new and exciting fictional world. And even though it takes place in the past, it does not seem like a boring period piece. In fact, it embraces the realistic dialogue and makes for a timeless tale, just like that of any other great hero from Marvel or DC would do and has done.
The dialogue is the biggest hurdle for any writer, but Gene Luen Yang dominates this field. He channels humor on par with that of novelist Amy Tan, mixed with just the perfect amount of teen angst to keep readers of any age interested and having a good time. There is a bit of tragedy, yes, but overall, the Green Turtle’s origin is much like that of Peter Parker’s, or Clark Kent’s, or even, to a lesser extent, Tony Stark’s. I hope this does well, because I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel. Or, even better, an ongoing series. Well done, guys. You’ve got me wanting more.
My Rating: 5/5
Like what you see? Then tell your local comic shop retailer to order you a copy. Or, you know, go to Amazon and get it there, as well. Either way, it’s worth your time. It’s a fun read and just like its main character, it’s full of heart. Which is rare these days, especially in a world dominated by superheroes hellbent on being perceived as edgy rather than genuinely heroic.
And while you’re at it, send me your stuff. I’d love to read it. Especially if it’s good.