Book Review: The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Friday, August 15, 2014
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Shadow Hero
Authors: Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
Publication Date: July 15th 2014

Synopsis: "The Shadow Hero is based on the golden-age comics series The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero. 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 superhero.
Now, exactly seventy years later, New York Times-bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has revived this nearly forgotten, pioneering character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.
With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this hilarious and insightful graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics."

My thoughts: I actually didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I loved the idea of an Asian American superhero, and I wanted to see where Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew would take the story - how they would explore the backstory of a character created over fifty years ago. What a fascinating premise! And I have to say, I think they pulled it off beautifully.
The art style was reminiscent of traditional comic books, but with a new edge to it. The characters were excellent - particularly Hank's mother. She was equal parts terrifying and hilarious. And the romance, while there, was not overbearing - which suited the story really well.
I loved this back story that Yang dreamed up with Liew. And I also loved how they talked about the history of the original Green Turtle comics at the end of the book - and even put an example of one of the old comics at the end! Horrific stereotyping of the Japanese of the time and everything.
My only nitpick about this book was sometimes the motivations behind the characters were a little bit of a stretch for me - I wasn't sure if what happened made complete sense for the characters and the story. But other than that, I really loved this book.

I received a review copy of this book from First Second Books.

You would like this book if: you're interested in alternate superhero stories, or the reinvention of old, forgotten heroes.

Rating:  9/10

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