Today is the day! Sonny Liew and I revive the Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero!
Here’s the script, thumbnail sketches, and Sonny’s final art for the second page:
In Chu Hing’s original comics, the Green Turtle has this weird turtle-shaped shadow that pops up from time to time.
No explanation is given, and it seems more like a design element than anything else.
In The Shadow Hero, Sonny and I made the turtle-shaped shadow into a character. I wanted him to be the source of the Green Turtle’s power, and I also wanted to tie him into Chinese mythology. I thought it’d be cool if the thing that made the Green Turtle a superhero — an embodiment of American idealism — had roots in his Chinese heritage.
In our comic, the turtle-shaped shadow is Xuanwu, the Black Tortoise from the Four Symbols of the Chinese Constellations. Xuanwu (玄武) can be translated Dark Warrior or Mysterious Soldier… Shadow Hero.
Gene Luen Yang’s first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, is now in print in over ten languages and was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Printz Award. Yang’s other works include the popular comics adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel diptych Boxers & Saints. The Shadow Hero, the story of the first Asian American superhero is his most recent graphic novel.