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‘The Shadow Hero: Fights You Cannot Win’ – Advance Comic Book Review

After the events in the third installment of Gene Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero, Hank is more prepared to fight evil thanks to the mysterious, ephemeral friend he found in his father’s casket; however, not being able to die from gun shot won’t solve the problems the family’s grocery store faces when the Tong of Sticks scares the ordinary citizens of Chinatown into boycotting them. The only customer they’ve seen in weeks is the police detective working on Hank’s father’s murder case, and Uncle Wun Too is attacked by small-time thugs while he watches the store one afternoon.  Clearly, The Green Turtle must rise again to challenge the Tong stranglehold on the region, but when Hank’s mother refuses to encourage him further, can the young man get it together in time? 

This chapter is titled Fights You Cannot Win, and I think I can safely say the silly, humorous storylines have mostly fallen to the wayside. (Uncle Wun Too is good for a few laughs, and there’s a great “Are you kidding me?” moment near the end.)  Hank is struggling with the loss of his father, taking more control of the family grocery store and trying to figure out how to punish the Tongs of Sticks, since law enforcement has its hands tied.  His shadowy companion serves as a great sounding board for the lost young man, and it seems that Hank almost looks to the mysterious being as a surrogate father.  When The Green Turtle reappears in the comic, there is a greater sense of urgency in Hank’s mission, and the stakes are much higher now that he’s fighting to right a personal wrong instead of simply being an ally of justice.

The artwork was less consistent in this issue, which I noticed most strongly in some of the faces.  Certain panels show extremely elongated chins and narrow faces, while others are more rounded; however, the action scenes continued to be amazing, and Uncle Wun Too brandishing broken bottles must be seen to appreciate its wondrousness.  

I didn’t love this volume of The Shadow Hero as much as the previous one, but I still highly recommend it to anyone who loves the idea of an Asian superhero.  We’re beginning to see Hank grow from a boy into a man, and the cliffhanger at the end left me wondering how the young hero will get himself out of his predicament!

The full collection of The Shadow Hero won’t be available from First Second Books until July 15, but new chapters will be released digitally each month until the hard copy release.  For information on where to find the series, check out

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Jodi Scaife, Fanbase Press Social Media Strategist


Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga


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