Movies like "Crazy Rich Asians," "Searching" and, more recently, Bong Joon-ho's critically acclaimed "Parasite" have propelled Asian and Asian American representation in film further into the front row.
"Parasite" hones in on socioeconomic disparities in South Korea. "Crazy Rich Asians" examines cultural differences between Asians and Asian Americans. And "Searching" unceremoniously places an Asian person as the lead of a dramatic thriller. And with Marvel's announcement of the upcoming "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the comic book world seems primed to highlight Asian and Asian American contributions — in addition to the Asian American children's and young adult books that hit stands in 2019.
"The selection is better now than it ever has been before," Jeff Yang, the main editor behind "Secret Identities" and co-editor of "Shattered." "Not because the mainstream comics have become more prominent, [but] indie comics have become more vibrant. The collection of different options across that gamut is huge and diverse."
To help give you an idea of what that selection entails, here are some comic books worth checking out that represent Asian American culture well.
1. "Superman Smashes the Klan" by Gene Luen Yang with art by Gurihuru
After learning about "Clan of the Fiery Cross," the 1940s Superman radio serial, Gene Leun Yang showcases his take on a story about the Lee family. After having just moved to Metropolis as the Ku Klux Klan were stirring things up in town, one of the Lees is kidnapped and Superman helps the family in need.
Yang believes this comic tackles many issues that Asian Americans don't want to talk about, including the Asian American and Asian immigrant community's negative feelings toward the African American community. Yang also points out the harms white supremacy inflicts on the Asian American community because "we are seen as 'white adjacent' or 'model minority,'" he said.
"It's a brilliant comic and entertaining and readable and fun for people who are too young to get those larger issues," Yang said. "But it begins the conversations we need to have."
2. "Master of Kung Fu Epic Collection: Weapon of The Soul" by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin
As Marvel fans wait for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" to hit theaters in 2021, they can prepare by reading the story in its original from — "Master of Kung Fu." Running from 1974 to 1979, the comic series followed Shang-Chi, "the greatest martial artist in the Marvel Universe" and the first Asian superhero in the comic book dynasty. Shang-Chi fought and assassinated his father's opponents, as well as challengers to a group he grew up with. But after figuring out he was only perpetuating his family's criminal activities, Shang-Chi declares war on his dad.
Simu Liu will playing Shang-Chi and Tony Leung will be taking on the film's villian role, The Mandarin. Marvel announced that Awkwafina was cast in the upcoming film but didn't reveal the role she would be playing. Before seeing these three tackle Kung Fu on-screen, read the original story from the epic comic book series.
3. "War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas" by Greg Pak and Art by Gang Hyuk Lim
Spinning off the "War of the Realms" series, "War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas" draws Marvel heroes from all over Asia to band together and protect the Pacific Rim from Sindr, the Immortal Queen of Muspelheim. She has led armies of Fire Demons to gain as much power as she could throughout the realms, following her father's past trajectory. The four-part comic book series brings together Shang-Chi, Silk, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo, Aero, Sword Master — Marvel's latest heroes from China — and Wade, a new heroine from the Philippines.
Greg Pak took characters from the Asian version of the "Marvel Heroes" video game and intended on "bringing them to life now with comics," Yang said.
4. "The Magnificent Ms. Marvel" by Saladin Ahmed and Art by Minkyu Jung
Building on the the success and impact of Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American superhero from Jersey City, N.J., and the "Ms. Marvel" series, Eisner Award–winning writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung bring readers the "Magnificent Ms. Marvel" series.
The comic follows Marvel's first Muslim superhero with a solo comic book series, Kamala Khan, as she tries to save her hometown from aliens who are not only causing chaos but are also keeping a close eye on both Khan and her family.
5. "Green Lantern Legacy" by Minh Lê and Art by Andie Tong
The upcoming DC Comics graphic novel series — which comes out in January 2020 — follows 13-year-old Tai Pham, an artist-in-training who lives above his grandma's store. After inheriting his grandmother's jade ring, he becomes a member of space police force known as the Green Lanterns. As his neighborhood is infiltrated with racist bullies, Tai learns more about his newfound powers and how to uphold his family's legacy.
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