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Comics' First Asian-American Superhero Returns in 'Shadow Hero'

Award-winning cartoonist Gene Luen Yang teams with artist Sonny Liew for First Second's revival of the long-forgotten Green Turtle.

Shadow Hero 1 Cover - P 2014
Sonny Liew/First Second Books

One of the most obscure of the superheroes of the 1940s "Golden Age" of comics has to be the Green Turtle -- a character who enjoyed a short run in the mid-40s title Blazing Comics before falling into comic book limbo, but nonetheless enjoys the honor of being the first Asian-American superhero to appear in American comic books.

Now in the public domain, the Green Turtle is about to enjoy a high-profile revival thanks to cartoonists Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, who have reinvented the character for their new comedy for First Second Books, a project that also sees the publisher step outside of its comfort zone in terms of format.

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Described by the publisher as "a young, Asian-American immigrant named Hank whose mother is really, really excited about the possibility of having a superhero for a son with, at times, disastrous results," the new Green Turtle is the star of The Shadow Hero, a graphic novel to be released in July which -- in a first for First Second -- will be serialized as six monthly digital comics launching later this month.

The digital series -- which begins with The Shadow Hero 1: The Green Turtle Chronicles -- will be available via Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble's digital bookstores starting next week. A new issue released in the middle of each month through July 15's The Shadow Hero 6: Enter the Green Turtle, released on the same day as the collected edition, which will be available both in print and digitally.

Although this is the first time First Second has serialized a graphic novel ahead of time as digital single issues, the publisher has previously serialized a number of its releases as daily webcomics, updating a page at a time. Tune, Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong are just some of the titles that have been promoted in this way.

A preview for The Shadow Hero -- which actually takes place after the events of the upcoming series -- is already available on Tor.com. The Shadow Hero 1 will be released on February 18.