The Shadow Hero, Chapter #3 Review

Posted August 22, 2014 by Kenneth Rodriguez in Nerdy Bits

This is a continuation of the review for The Shadow Hero, with Chapters 1&2 reviewed here. Look for the next couple of chapters in the following weeks.


Written by: Gene Luen Yang

Art by: Sonny Liew

Publisher: First Second Books


The cover to Chapter 3, featuring Hank’s mother Hua, and his “Ba” or Father

So Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s Shadow Hero keeps their streak of greatness alive with this next chapter. We rejoin our hero Hank after his last battle, beat up and unsure if he should continue his antics as The Golden Man of Bravery. We learn a bit about the issues his father has had to deal with, when some gangsters show up to their door with 4 knocks, a signature of the gang.  See, Hank tells us that his father has been paying these gangsters for “Protection” for years, much like every other shop owner in Chinatown, and has never spoken about it. Hank only found out because he needed to deliver a payment for his father when his back gave out.  The gangsters want a double payment, since his father forgot to pay on time due to all the troubles the family has been going through. When Hank’s father pleads them to reconsider, since they don’t have that kind of money lying around, they beat him, and steal his last reminder of his parents, a jade necklace as half payment. Hank tries to help but cant in his condition, and the gangster chides him for it.

After making sure his father will be alright in the hospital, he tries to console his mother, who is only disappointed, stating she lives in a house full of cowards.. harsh. Hank gets some background on the gang from his uncle/trainer Wun Too, learning its Mock Beak of the Tong of Sticks gang who are responsible for extorting his father and all of Chinatown. They are now stronger than ever after the two warring factions in their gang war decided to team up, and set up a base in an American neighborhood to Hank’s surprise. His mother’s disappointment, his sense of helplessness in saving his father, and a reminder of the power of heroes from a flyby of the Anchor of Justice fills Hank with confidence, donning his costume once more. Hua doesn’t have the same optimism for his exploits she did before, having to work extra to pay their extra bills and won’t give Hank a ride to the Tong of Sticks HQ. So off he goes to confront them himself, surprising Mock Beak in the bathroom and threating him with a knife to get his father’s jade necklace back. He succeeds, but not before Mock recognizes him, chastising his stupidity.

The art is fantastic, dynamic but immediately recognizable

The art is fantastic, dynamic but immediately recognizable

Hua is overcome by her son’s success, and once again wants to know everything about his crime-fighting experience, as awkward and ungraceful as it was. Before long, the celebration stops when 4 knocks are heard at their door.  Mock is back and shoots Hank’s father point blank, mocking Hank for being stupid and letting him know he still expects the protection payment. At the funeral, Hank is overcome by sadness, but suddenly hears a mysterious voice coming from his father’s coffin. Only Hank can hear it, and when he investigates, the mysterious Turtle spirit that was revealed to be living inside of his Father’s shadow reveals himself. He asks Hank to live inside of his own shadow, since his father’s won’t last much longer, and guarantees a promise in return. Hank is unsure at first, but ultimately decides to use this opportunity for revenge, and asks the Turtle to promise him he will never get shot, and alas a hero is born.

Yang and Liew knock it out of the park again on this chapter, distilling the story down to just its essential elements, but packing plenty of emotional hits. We haven’t had much background on Hank’s father, but simple shots of him feeding his injured son soup or pushing his family out of the way when Mock threatens him with a gun shows he was a good man at heart, making his death that much more powerful. Hua retains her deep characterization, being demoralized when she believes nothing will change the fate she has been assigned too, but then brightening up when she sees her son succeed in battling evil, even if it’s a small victory. Hank has all the makings of a classic hero, but believable enough that it doesn’t become full of tropes. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next beautiful chapter of this story, and readers will get my take next week.

About the Author

Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenny has been completing his pokedex since Pokemon Yellow, ever ready for his next test, comics in hand. He thinks Mass Effect is the best game series ever,.. period and loves TV and Movies dearly. Follow him on Twitter @k_rod14