The Shadow Hero (Pg. 72 – 152)

“So you’re still playing superhero, then? Hank, be honest, do you really think dressing up in that silly costume will make them accept you? Do you really think it will make you a part of them?”

“…”

I didn’t know how to answer Red Center back then.

“Green Turtle!”

“Anchor of Justice!”

“My goodness, am I honored to shake your hand! I’ve been hoping to meet you for quite some time now!”

“Uh… yeah! Me, too!”

“Have you been following the new out of Europe and Asia? Sooner rather than later, America will be called upon to defend our allies. The President’s already spoken with me about it. They’ll need people like you and me to bolster our troops. If your country needs you, would you be willing to lend a hand?”

“Oh yes! One more thing… I’ve never told anyone this — but my parents aren’t from around here, either.”

There are several subtle, yet important details at the end of this graphic novel. First, Red Center asks Hank a very important question, one that he is unable to answer. She wants to know if “playing superhero… will make [Americans] accept [him],” and that even as readers, we are unable to answer fully. During the time period that this story is set in, Asian Americans were an untrusted minority in America, so this is a difficult question to answer. Despite this, however, it is clear that Hank fully intends to continue to be the Green Turtle and fight for justice, even though he may face racism and adversity, as he did several times throughout the graphic novel.

The final conversation between Red Center and Hank stands in stark contrast to the one between The Anchor of Justice and Hank that we see at the very end. In this scene, readers see Hank on a rooftop, a position often seen in other superhero comics and movies, clearly watching over San Incendio. What may be the most important part of Hank’s story happens at the very end as The Anchor describes to him the predicament America is in at the beginning of World War II and how people like them – superheros – will be called upon to help the troops. He asks, “If your country needs you, would you be willing to lend a hand?” It becomes clear here that Hank is accepted. Despite being the son of immigrants, The Anchor calls America “his [Hank’s] country,” implying that he is where he belongs. I think that both Hank and the reader are able to answer Red Center’s parting question at this point.

Also at the end, in a slightly humorous twist, we find out that The Anchor of Justice is also an immigrant to America, although he appears to be from another planet, not from another country. As an Asian American, Hank faced many more challenges than The Anchor would have becuase his differences can be seen at first glance. The fact that The Anchor of Justice is the person who says this to Hank is important because it solidifies the idea presented in this story that it does not matter where someone is from, home is where they choose to make it and they should feel accepted there.

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13 thoughts on “The Shadow Hero (Pg. 72 – 152)

  1. I really thought that the passage you chose was revealing to the story. The point seems to be that those who are not consider “of the society”, tend to be the ones who save the society. It shows how despite the hate that Hank receives from white Americans, he still can find a reason to take care of those same people. I find it important at the end when Hank says “maybe being a superhero would make me a part of them. maybe it wouldn’t. Either way it didn’t matter because the Green Turtle had already become apart of me” (Yang & Liew 152). Here the idea of “them” comes into play again after being mentioned by Red Center. This word creates a division that Hank learns to overlook because he does not care about being accepted by his society. He just wants to help others by being the Green Turtle.

    -Serina Thomas

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  2. The passage you chose to talk about is a very important passage in the story. We know that racism is a major theme in this story and we really see it occurring when Red center questions Hank and tells him that if he thinks there is a possibility of him being accepted and fitting in among the Americans. We also see a twist of events happening when we find out that Anchor of Justice is similar to Hank because he is also an Immigrant to America.

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  3. I like the comparisons that you made between the dialogue shared between Hank and Red versus that between Hank and The Anchor. The implication that Hank would not be accepted even as a superhero because of his asian heritage is found throughout the story. Even the detective just assumes that Hank is white American because he’s a superhero. The fact that The Anchor of Justice accepts him may be in part because he is from another planet, he may not have the sense of racial prejudice that Americans had, especially during this period of history. At the end of the graphic novel is a short blurb on the background history of the Green Turtle comics. I found it very interesting that the illustrator managed to keep the Green Turtle’s face obscured from the audience throughout the series, preserving the racial identity of this superhero. When you read about racial prejudices it can sometimes be more subtle and the reader can more easily clump it together with the rest of fiction, but the fact that the same views presented in this graphic novel were incorporated into the physical appearance of the original Green Turtle really brings it back into the reality of the times (and today).

    siri

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  4. I think the parallel between the Anchor and Hank, where alien heritage is used as a metaphor for immigration, is really calling attention to some ideas about heroes we have. While Superman is the “All-American Hero” and appears as a Caucasian male, he is, technically an immigrant. Which is an even more important addition to the metaphor of the All-American Hero, as the majority of Americans have immigrant roots.
    WW2 was a turning point for the comics industry and birthed the success of Super heroes. While the Green Turtle might not have been successful as a comic, Gene Yang wishes to preserve his history as the first Asian American hero created during that war. Just because someone is not white, does not mean they are not patriotic and the Green Turtle, an American protector fused with the spirit of a Chinese protector, is perfect for the first Asian American hero.

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  5. This was a very important passage that you picked, it brings to a head the racial theme that, while present in the rest of the story, takes a backseat to the hero’s journey and the revenge plot. The rest of the story discusses the racial theme throughout however it only appears in specific times and not for very long, maybe a few panels at best. This passage blatantly states the racial issue and forces Hank, and the reader, to recognize it.

    -Justin Wright

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  6. It’s really interesting to think about whether or not Americans would accept Hank if played superhero. Everyone else could be doing it and it is acceptable, but because Hank is Asian American society may not be accepting towards him. Something that stands out to me the most is that Hank puts aside the racism and negativity he receives and continues to do the right thing, fight for justice. It’s rewarding for Hank in the end. The Anchor of Justice tells Hank that America is his country. Although he faced discrimination, because he never gave up and did what was right it all worked out. I think society somewhat “goes with the flow” so by the Anchor of Justice accepting Hank, everyone else did too.

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  7. I feel like the beginning of this selected passage is particularly important where Hank recalls a time where Anchor basically calls him out for “still playing superhero.” Hank being a superhero is him going above and beyond to be accepted by Americans. This is representative of the fact that minorities often work have to harder than most white Americans actually do, in an attempt to be accepted. There is this notion of “us versus them” involved here. White Americans take it for granted how easy they have it and they often place impossibly high standards on minorities.
    -Jill Valdes

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  8. I found it very interesting that Hank will continue to be green turtle despite all the racism that he may endure. This goes to show the true identity of Hank and his willingness to help others. I also find it interesting how most superheroes even in today’s world are by some if not most extent an immigrant. It can be said that the underlying theme is someone is different is ridiculed and subjected to racism.

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  9. I found this ending quite interesting. At the beginning of the story, Hank is highly resistant to the idea of becoming a superhero, preferring instead to carry on the family business after his father’s retirement. Even when he takes up super-heroics, it is only in response to a desire to avenge the beating and eventual shooting death of his father.

    At some point in the story, however, the idea begins to grow on Hank, and we can see by this ending that he begins to accept it. In examining why, we have to ask why Hank was originally resistant. Certainly, as many have pointed out here, race is an important component of the calculus–the good guys are white, superheroes are white, so Hank wouldn’t fit in with the crowd. Hank, a Chinese American, is only able to enter their ranks through a very narrow and particular set of circumstances, a condition that was certainly true of society in general during the time in which this story is set; a condition that is on the wane but still quite prominent in the fabric of our society.

    -Patrick Gibson

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  10. I liked this quote because it brings up many important points of conversation. For example, when Hank was called out for doing the super hero thing, it was an interesting part because at first hank wasn’t interested in being a superhero at all, but after the death of his father, his response was to turn to the heroics and get revenge. Most superheros need a purpose to serve, they just don’t go flying around saving people because they are bored. No, they need that motivation, that reasoning, like spiderman’s motivation was the death of Uncle Ben, Hank’s motivation was his fathers death.

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  11. I like how you compare these two moments of dialogue between Hank and the Red Center, and Hank and the Anchor of Justice. I’m not entirely sure I agree that the second conversation shows that Hank has really been accepted though. The racism that Hank faces in the story and the racism against Asian Americans during the time period it references was vast. Despite this though, I would say the ending shows that, while still not entirely accepted, Hank has still found something worth fighting for.

    Thinking about the superhero genre as a whole, it’s interesting to note how often superheroes have been used to parallel situations faced by minorities, such as the X-men who are discriminated against for their powers in their society. However, because he is an actual person of color, Hank’s portrayal as a superhero is allowed to be a lot more nuanced; unlike the X-men, his powers are a way for him to be more accepted despite the racism he endures due to attitudes about his race. This highlights the importance of actual diversity in the genre rather than just allusions to diversity.

    -Marjorie Eyong

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  12. This passage is interesting because it again touches on the fact that Hank is protecting a county that could seemingly care less about him. I doubt that this fact does not fly over his head and it is quite admirable of Hank to dismiss such hate and still seek for the betterment of others lives. Of course this desire to help others is coupled with the death of his father, which clearly motivated him to work to help others. There is an odd feeling to Hank being asked if he would be willing to help fight for his country. Some might ask if his desire to serve is being questioned because of his race.

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  13. I like this close reading selection. To me this is one of the more significant interactions throughout the entire graphic novel. Much of the novel is focused around the idea of assimilation, and Hank seems to be conscious of this throughout. It’s interesting how this appears so late (pretty much the end) in the novel, and yet it has some of the greatest meaning. The Anchor is somewhat stereotypically portrayed as a white American male, but is then revealed to be an Alien. In this moment Hank realizes that fighting for Justice is a bigger picture than worrying whether or not society will accept him.

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