Boxers & Saints author Gene Luen Yang to take the helm of DC’s Superman

Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC's Superman. Where do I sign up?
Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC’s Superman

 

Reappropriate:

Last year, Marvel announced efforts to broaden the diversity of their superhero lineup; only to run their main Marvel universe through the shredder this year and possibly erase all those gains. Meanwhile, both DC and Marvel have been criticized that even when they elevate the profiles of non-White and non-male superheroes, previous efforts have stumbled due at least in part to failures to implement behind-the-scenes diversity initiatives; thus, earlier announcements have come across as transient pandering that lacks connection to the actual experiences of women and minorities while failing to produce opportunities for minority creators.

Last week, DC announced its own radical shift that would be taking hold of the DC superhero universe in the coming months. No, not another Crisis: DC announced a major roster change in the creative teams behind several ongoing titles as well as the launch of several new books, all with the general goal of “broadening” the focus of the DC universe. In layman’s terms? DC is diversifying their superheros, and it turns out that they’re going to do it the right way: behind-the-scenes as well as in front.

MarySue is all over the news, highlighting the launch of two new titles that feature strong female superhero protagonists –– Black Canary and Starfire. This will be Starfire’s first solo title, and notably, she’s received a costume redesign that (finally) covers her top half (although, of course, she’s still wearing booty shorts).  In addition to a limited run Harley Quinn/ Power Girl (which may feature the new Power Girl, Tanya Spears who is Black and also apparently awesome) miniseries, these newly launched female-led titles will join ongoing series featuring Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl and Wonder Woman, making DC’s newly announced efforts one of the most inclusive comic lineups with regard to women.

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Starfire’s new look.

With regard to racial diversity, a few (but not that many) characters of color will also be promoted to solo title status; most notably, Cyborg will get his own series, written by current author of Shaft, David Walker. The cover of We Are Robin also features several Robins, including both women and people of colour. The new title, Midnighter, will focus on a gay male lead character.

But the real news here is what’s going on behind-the-scenes: DC’s newest slate of creative teams features an almost unprecedented number of women and minority creators. For the New 52 relaunch, less than 1% of DC’s writers were women. In this new announcement, six women (or 17% of all writers, a big deal in the traditionally male-dominated comics industry) will be women. Even more importantly, several of the female writers will be writing female protagonists: Meredith Finch will be writing Wonder Woman, Gail Simone will continue her work on Secret Six (which includes several female characters), Amanda Connor will co-write Harley QuinnStarfire, and the Harley Quinn/Power Girl mini-series, and Genevieve Valentine will write Catwoman.

Today’s announcement is also a big deal for Asian American comic book writers and artists. Greg Pak, who has done phenomenal work for both DC and Marvel, will be continuing to write Action Comics and Superman/Batman. The big news is that Gene Luen Yang, author of several award-winning comic books including American Born ChineseBoxers & Saints, and The Shadow Hero will be making his DC Comics debut to take over the ongoing Superman series. DC reports that Yang will be charged with helping to depict Superman “in a more contemporary light”. Ming Doyle, one of the industry’s few Asian American female talents, will also be joining Constantine: The Hellblazer as a writer, and Dark Universe as an artist.

Teamed with artist John Romita, Jr., Yang will be the first Asian American to write the tale of DC Comics’ flagship superhero in his eponymous title; this is also symbolic because Superman’s story — with its immigrant narrative overtones — has long spoken to Asian American fanboys. As Will West put it:

This is a pretty big deal. An Asian American is writing the American Dream superhero.

(Of course, Pak has been writing Superman through both Action Comics and Superman/Batman or some time, but you get the gist!)

Yang’s writing is just superb and stellar; I’ve been a fan for years. I haven’t been buying comics in a number of years; the addition of Yang and Doyle to a writing staff that already includes Pak’s strong work is making me change my mind on that decision.

As far as Asian American creative talent are concerned, Yang, Pak and Doyle will also be joined by several Asian American artists in driving the behind-the-scenes work for DC. Talented Asian American artists Bernard Chang, Sonny Liew, Ardian Syaf, Annie Wu and Billy Tan will pencil Batman BeyondDr Fate, Batman/Superman, Black Canary, and Green Lantern, respectively; Irene Koh is also working on art for Black Canary although she’s listed by BleedingCool and not included in  DC’s official announcement.

DC says:

“This heralds in a new era for the DC Universe which will allow us to publish something for everyone, be more expansive and modern in our approach and tell stories that better reflect the society around us,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.  “Whether you’ve been a DC fan your whole life, or whether you are new to comics – there will be a book for you beginning in June.”

 

New graphic novel tells the story of The Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero


Angry Asian Man:

At long last! Evildoers cower and flee! It’s the triumphant return of the masked crimefighter known as the Green Turtle! Wait… who? What, you mean you’ve never heard of the first Asian American superhero? Then you must read The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, on shelves this week from First Second.

Okay, if you’ve never heard of the Green Turtle, I can’t really blame you. He’s an obscure Golden Age character that briefly appeared in the pages of Blazing Comics during the 1940s. While the character’s run was short-lived, what makes the Green Turtle interesting is his creator, Chinese American artist Chu F. Hing.

 

Legend has it, Chu wanted to make a series about a superhero of Asian descent, but his publisher wouldn’t allow it, because, you know, America. So Chu found a weird, passive-aggressive way to make the character Asian: he never showed his hero’s face. If you look at the old comics, the Green Turtle is always drawn so that his face is obscured, either hidden by shadow, or blocked by a piece of furniture or even his own arm.

Gene, the award-winning graphic novelist behind American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints, was intrigued and inspired by the lore of the Green Turtle, and saw it as an opportunity to tell a great story about the first Asian American superhero. With art by Sonny Liew, The Shadow Hero revives the character, and spins an all-new origin story for a new generation of comic book fans.

The Shadow Hero tells the story of Hank Chu, a Chinese American teenager growing up in 1930s Chinatown. Hank wants nothing more than to work in his family’s grocery store, but his mother has more ambitious plans. She wants him to embody the excitement of their new home. She wants him to become a superhero.

From the obscure depths of what should have been a mildly curious footnote in comics history, Gene and Sonny have extracted and crafted a marvelous, heartfelt, unmistakably Asian American superhero tale. They’ve even managed to weave some of the weirdest elements of the character (seriously, what kind of superhero name is “Green Turtle”?) into their inventive origin story. 

Best of all, this is not just a comic book tale about powers, masks and villains, though it’s got all that great stuff.The Shadow Hero is also a story about the immigrant experience, explored through the genre of superheroes. I expected to love this book. (Yes, I judged it by its cover.) I didn’t expect to be so moved by its heart.

The trade paperback of The Shadow Hero is now available from booksellers everywhere, including Amazon. You can also download digital issues from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks. For further information about The Shadow Hero, visit Gene Luen Yang’s website.

To celebrate the release of The Shadow Herotwenty-seven different artists are doing their takes on the Green Turtle, one a day through the end of the month. Check out the first few drawings here.

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Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “Boxers & Saints” receives nomination for National Book Award

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It’s a double dip for Gene Luen Yang today, as his two volume Boxers & Saints—an intertwined graphic novel telling the story of the China’s Boxer Rebellion from the POVs of two different teenagers—has made the list of finalists for the National Book Awards, which will be presented on November 20.

This is Yang’s second nomination for the National Book Award. The first was back in 2006 in the Young People’s Literature category, for American Born Chinese — the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for the award.

Check out this link:

Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “Boxers & Saints” receives multiple nominations for National Book Award

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Interview: Gene Yang talks about his graphic novel series, Boxers & Saints

This week, First Second Books releases Boxers & Saints, a two-part comic book by Gene Luen Yang that approaches history from two perspectives, following the parallel tales of two Chinese teens who grow up through the Boxer Rebellion. The two-book collection, which hits shelves today, views the early 20th century rebellion on both sides of the struggle, from the perspective of the Boxers and the Christian converts.

Yang also writes the Avatar: The Last Airbender series of graphic novels.

Check out this link:

Interview: Gene Yang Talks Boxers & Saints

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