Later this year, First Second Books will be publishing The Shadow Hero from writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Sonny Liew. Back in November, we were fortunate enough to have Gene on Hard N.O.C. Life where he talked a bit about working with Sonny and their research into the Asian American origins of a forgotten Golden Age hero named the Green Turtle.
Though the book is still forthcoming, Gene and Sonny actually published a series of Shadow Hero strips in Shattered, the anthology of Asian American comics I co-edited with Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, and Jerry Ma in 2012. For the first time, however, Gene and Sonny are unveiling these strips in full color over at Tor.com (they were published in black & white in Shattered).
In the introduction to the unveiling of the Shadow Hero strips, Gene explores the intersection between superheroes and immigrants (a connection that, candidly, fueled the publication of Shattered due to a generous grant from the Vilcek Foundation).
Superheroes are also about immigrants. Superman, the prototype of all superheroes, is a prototypical immigrant. His homeland was in crisis, so his parents sent him to America in search of a better life. He has two names, one American, Clark Kent, and the other foreign, Kal-El. He wears two sets of clothes and lives in between two cultures. He loves his new country, but a part of him still longs for his old one.
Superman’s negotiation of identities reflects a daily reality for immigrants and their children.