Review: The Shadow Hero

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The Shadow Hero
by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew
★★★★☆
2014 • 176 pages • First Second

On Monday, The Mary Sue republished Lilian-Ann Bonaparte’s Black Girl Nerds essay on the importance of racebent fanart, “For Black Girls who considered Esmerelda Black when Cinderella wasn’t enuf: The Importance of Race-Bending Fan-Art.” It is well worth a read—Bonaparte specifically fixes on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the greatest of the Disney Renaissance films—but Bonaparte makes herself very, very clear at the end of it: “Race-bending is radical, progressive and imperative for the WOC who are starved for more positive representation in media.”

Gene Luen Yang, I think, would undoubtedly agree with Bonaparte. Given his measured but angry response to the atrociously whitewashed Avatar: The Last Airbender film (could have had it all, rolling in the deep, etc.), it’s very tempting and, I think, rewarding to think of The Shadow Hero as Yang’s opportunity to avenge the scores of Asian characters who have been whitewashed over the years for the sake of appealing to a “wider” (which is a very odd way to spell “whiter”) audience.

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The Literary Horizon: My Faith in Frankie, A Flight of Angels

My headlong rush into mainstream comics has made me feel as if I’m leaving more independent (if in tone and not in publisher) and original material behind. Today’s recommendations are all pretty much courtesy of The Unwritten (drop everything and go find a copy now!)—one was written by Mike Carey, and the other merely advertised in its pages. And both deal with celestial beings!

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