A unique teenage superhero
Set in the Chinatown neighborhoods of the fictional California city San Incendio, The Shadow Hero is the tale of a young man’s discovery of his noble and ancient powers. Hank, the 19-year-old son of two Chinese immigrants, is content to work in his father’s grocery store and lead a quiet, uncomplicated life. When his mother is saved by the local superhero, she starts scheming to make Hank into a superhero as well. Out of respect for his mother, Hank trains in martial arts, but on his first night as a superhero, he bumbles into a fight with members of the Tongs gang, the Chinese organized crime ring that controls Hank’s town. Failing to wear a mask, Hank exposes his identity and puts his whole family at risk. Luckily for him, a kind, ancient spirit has been watching over Hank for years, and it makes him a promise that changes his life.
With The Shadow Hero, National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang revives and reinvents the story of the Green Turtle, the first Asian-American superhero. Accompanied by Sonny Liew’s epic artistry, the story captures the familial, racial and criminal tensions of a time, place and people as old as they are new.
This article was originally published in the July 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.