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[Monday Reading] Increasingly Diverse Superheroes in Comics: Shadow Hero and Miss Marvel Volume 3


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! You still have a few months left before the year ends to win book prizes.


Here is the sign up page and the September-October linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick courtesy of Pansing Books.


Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.


Last week, I shared the first two volumes of Ms. Marvel. This week, I am excited to share the third volume in the series alongside one of my favourite comic books this year The Shadow Hero.

IMG_4924Ms. Marvel: Crushed

Written byG. Willow Wilson Artist: Elmo Bondoc and Takeshi Miyazawa
Published byMarvel, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

In this series installment, Bruno gets “friend-zoned” as Kamala meets Kamran, a seemingly-upstanding young man who sounds for all intents and purposes Mr. Perfect himself – a God-fearing Muslim man whose parents are the oldest friends of Kamala’s Abu and Ammi, and who has been admitted for early admission in MIT where he will study microbiology, engineering, and pre-law. Kamran also plays World of Battlecraft while singing along to old Bollywood movies. And yes, he is quite the good-looking chap too.


Add the single little fact that he is also an Inhuman himself and totally understands and appreciates Kamala’s powers:


Whether he would eventually turn out to be the love of Kamala’s life, I shall leave for you to discover. What I especially liked about this particular volume is that it managed to touch into gentrification of cities to victim-shaming and shedding one’s self of guilt imposed by total “buttwipes” (to use Kamala’s term) in such a smooth and seamless manner. All this is happening as Loki was banished to New Jersey and Kamala comes to terms with her own powers, and her growing realization that she will have to hurt bad guys/girls who are weaker than her – because, like it or not, that is simply the way of the world.


This series just keeps getting better and better as the reader is able to appreciate how Kamala fits into the much larger storyline of the Inhumans and her place in this strange Universe – while at the same time remaining beguilingly contemporary with such refreshing wit and masterful storytelling that simply captures what it’s like to be a 16 year old girl.

The Shadow HeroIMG_2784

Written by: Gene Luen Yang Artist: Sonny Liew
Published byFirst Second, 2014
Review copy provided by Pansing Books. Book photos taken by me.

It has been awhile since I have laughed out loud over a book, and I have The Shadow Hero to thank for this. Evidently, Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew enjoyed themselves tremendously in this remake of The Green Turtle as it showed in this book that is brimming with such refreshing wit. The dialogues and occasional sighs and Liew’s trademark artistic style showed a total lack of self-consciousness evidenced in its unapologetic humor (oft-times self-deprecating) and its capacity to not take itself too seriously.


This is most clearly demonstrated in how the Shadow Hero’s Mother was characterized with all her Tiger Mom sensibilities, her resignation in the face of continual disillusionment over what America has to offer her family, the generic nice man who was chosen for her by her parents, and her regular sigh-inducing housekeeping job for a wealthy American family. It is no wonder that her encounter with a veritable hero brought a life-changing epiphany:


It prompted her to re-evaluate her family’s options and inspired her to chart the course of his only son’s life, changing the face of Chinatown forevermore:


… even if this means nudging her son (none-too-gently) towards a toxic spill or having him bitten by a rabid dog because according to her research these are the cataclysmic events which bring about the birth of a superhero.


Over and above the mother’s well-intentioned, often-catastrophic, unsolicited advice and overall interference in her son’s life – I was especially taken by how Hank (the Shadow Hero himself) transformed from a spineless, totally unambitious, largely passive young man to a gentleman superhero who refuses to hit a woman (regardless of whether he is beaten hands down) to a young man with a sense of purpose:


Hank is the only superhero (that I know of, at least) who brings his own mother as back-up as he goes looking for bad guys. How could you possibly not adore him:


I also particularly enjoyed how the many faces of heroism is portrayed – how one does not really need a cape and muscled arms to be a hero. Sometimes it just takes giving up alcohol, making compromises, and maintaining a steadfast heart to become one. Then of course the subtle racism conveyed which was never really heavy-going but taken as a matter of stereotypical fact:


and the various identities people assume to conceal the foreigner within:


The extensive Afterword that detailed the history of The Green Turtle and the many difficulties the author, Chu Hing, faced at the time in response to his publisher summarily dismissing an Asian superhero is also worth the read.


One of my book clubs, Saturday Night Out for Book-Geeks (SNOB-Geeks), discussed The Shadow Hero a few months ago, and most everyone enjoyed the graphic novel. While there were issues raised about perpetuating cultural stereotypes and tropes about Chinese and kung-fu for one, it remained crystal clear that this was a hugely entertaining comicbook that should be read by all.

Currently Reading…

By the time this gets posted today, I would most likely be at the airport waiting for my flight to Perth where I have been invited to be the guest speaker for the IBBY-WA (International Board on Books for Young People – Western Australia) Annual General Assembly:

I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new people whom I am certain would be like-minded individuals.

Last week was also a good reading week for me as I finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, finally! And I also finished Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta. Plus quite a number of graphic novels too, but I won’t enumerate them here.

My travel companion for the next four days are these books: Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe, The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry.

And since I am fairly ambitious, I also hope to begin reading this for my own research project:

A signed copy of Challenging and Controversial Picturebooks: Creative and Critical Responses to Visual Texts edited by Janet Evans.

6 comments on “[Monday Reading] Increasingly Diverse Superheroes in Comics: Shadow Hero and Miss Marvel Volume 3

  1. Wow, the comics you posted about look so cool! I’ve always enjoyed comics but it’s hard for me to follow the sequence. Perhaps I might start going back to them though, with all these new interesting comics coming out. =)


  2. Happy Reading….looks like you were having fun.

    Have a great week.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday, What Are You Reading


  3. I hope the speaking engagement went well. A Little Life sounds great but I don’t think I could make it through that many pages!!


  4. Pingback: [Saturday Reads | SWF 2016] Highlights of the Singapore Writers Festival (thus far) – Gathering Books

  5. Pingback: Book 4 Of Muslim Super Hero Kamala Khan: Last Days – Gathering Books

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