Comicscape: The Shadow Hero (Mania.com)

By:Chuck Francisco
Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Source: Mania.com

Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Sonny Liew come at cape and cowl fans with a fresh and vibrant take on a forgotten hero from the Golden Age of comics. Within the confines of an amazing six issue miniseries, they manage to weed through the past source material before weaving those strands together to form this new take. Astute readers will notice that I chose to run with new take" as opposed to modern take. This is directly because The Shadow Hero is a period comic, taking place in the 1940s, which allows it to retain the potency of discrimination, a major component of the characters makeup. The miniseries has been collected into a soft cover graphic novel releasing on July 15th from First Second Books.

Before we can really jump in to talking about who The Green Turtle of The Shadow Hero is, its incredibly important that we know who he was and why that should matter to modern audiences. Lets don our historian spectacles, tweed vests, and vigorous mustaches for jaunt back in time. 
 
The Green Turtle was to be the marquee character of upstart label Blazing Comics in 1944. Created by Chu Hing, the Turtle fought Japanese invaders to China drug World War II with the help of his sidekick Burma Boy. The significance springs form the speculation that the Turtle was the very first Asian American Super Hero, but we dont (and likely never will) know this  with 100% certainty. It seems Blazing's publisher didnt want the character to be asian, while his creator, Hing, did. And so what follows is an amazing coincidence that The Green Turtles face is never really clearly shown, rather he either has his back to the panel or his face is obstructed by other objects in frame. This ambiguity is recounted in much richer detail in the afterward attached to The Shadow Hero, along with a full history of the surrounding genesis.

Where does this leave comic fans for The Shadow Hero? Quite well to do, actually. Gene Luen Yang's passion for the source material sings forth from the narrative beats. He never dodges away from the sad truth of the discrimination of the time, and yet there is a thrumming heart beat of optimistic hope for the future here. His hero is the teen son of immigrants, who vigorously trains (ala Batman) to the height of martial arts perfection- or at least he attempts to. In The Shadow Hero, we are witnessing both an origin story and a history lesson and, much as with a Dungeons & Dragons party, the Green Turtle has to begin his crime fighting career at a lower level. Some of those lessons strike similar chords to Toby Macguire's first foray as Raimi's Spider-Man.
Sonny Liew's art never forgets the Golden Age influence from which the character originates, and he messages evocative lines into the clay of this sculpted piece. His action sequences feel fluid, and manage both an urgency and a measured dance step to their pacing. The most important place where he succeeds is in color selection, where the palate contains vivid golden yellows and rich velvety reds, both a visual testament stretching back to the comic character's Chinese roots. The prominence of both colors also works to set off the turtle green of our hero's costume so that it truly pops off the page.

 
I had a stellar time discovering The Green Turtle's adventures anew in The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. It's available this week from First Second Books as a Graphic novel for $17.99.
 
COMIC BOOK RELEASES FOR July 16th, 2014:

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Witchfinder The Mysteries Of Unland #2 (Of 5), $3.50

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Batman A Celebration Of 75 Years HC, $39.99
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Gate-Way Volume 1 A New World TP, $17.99
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Lust TP, $19.99
My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #21 (Cover A Agnes Garbowska), $3.99
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My Little Pony Micro-Comic Fun Pack Series 2, AR
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Heroes Collection Oversized HC, $34.99
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100th Anniversary Special X-Men #1 (Alexander Lozano Variant Cover), AR
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Black Widow Volume 1 The Finely Woven Thread TP, $17.99
Deadpool Dracula's Gauntlet #2 (Of 7), $3.99
Elektra #4, $3.99
Fantastic Four Epic Collection Volume 20 Into The Timestream TP, $39.99
Guardians Of The Galaxy #15 (Nick Bradshaw 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99
Guardians Of The Galaxy Emblem Stickers (Promotional Item), AR
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Marvel Masterworks The Avengers Volume 14 HC, $69.99
Marvel Masterworks The Avengers Volume 14 HC (Direct Market Variant Edition Volume 208), $69.99
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #2 (Dave Marquez 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99
Moon Knight #4 (Declan Shalvey 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99
Ms. Marvel #6 (Jamie McKelvie Regular Cover), $2.99
Ms. Marvel #6 (Pascal Campion Guardians Of The Galaxy Variant Cover), AR
Nova #19, $3.99
Original Sin #3.2, $3.99
Original Sin #6 (Of 8)(Arthur Adams Interlocking Battle Variant Cover), AR
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Original Sin #6 (Of 8)(Paul Renaud Teaser Variant Cover), AR
Savage Hulk #2 (Alan Davis Regular Cover), $3.99
Savage Hulk #2 (Ryan Stegman Variant Cover), AR
Savage Wolverine #21, $3.99
Secret Avengers #5, $3.99
She-Hulk #4 (Kevin Wada 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $2.99
She-Hulk #6, $2.99
Silver Surfer #4, $3.99
Thunderbolts #28, $2.99
Ultimate FF #4, $3.99
Uncanny X-Men #23 (John Tyler Christopher Guardians Of The Galaxy Variant Cover), AR
Uncanny X-Men #23 (Regular Cover), $3.99
X-Men #16 (Pasqual Ferry Guardians Of The Galaxy Variant Cover), AR
X-Men #16 (Terry Dodson Regular Cover), $3.99

RED 5 COMICS
Atomic Robo Knights Of The Golden Circle #3 (Of 5), $3.50

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
Harbinger #23 (2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99
Harbinger #25 (Barry Kitson Variant Cover), AR
Harbinger #25 (Cover A Mico Suayan), $4.99
Harbinger #25 (Cover B Jenny Frison), $4.99
Harbinger #25 (Lucy Knisley Variant Cover), AR
Harbinger #25 (Sean Chen Throwback Variant Cover), AR
Unity #9 (Mico Suayan Regular Cover), $3.99
Unity #9 (Stephen Segovia Variant Cover), AR

 

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Shock-O-Rama, the look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous  Colonial Theatre  in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.



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