The late Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League of America) called Secret Identities a “criminally overdue treasure trove …as rousing, uplifting, tragic and funny as our deepest secret fantasies.” Walt Simonson (Thor) called it “a window into truths you never thought of before.” And DC Comics’ co-publisher Jim Lee said of the groundbreaking first anthology, “Fabulous!…I am more than a little in awe.”
Now, three years later, the team behind Secret Identities is back with a new volume — bigger, bolder and more breathtaking in scope. Like the groundbreaking original, the next incarnation of Secret Identities unfurls an ingenious “shadow narrative” of the Asian American experience, set against the larger-than-life canvas of the comic book cosmos.
But while the first collection focused on the conventions of superhero comics, its sequel expands its horizon to include edgier genres, from hard-boiled pulp to horror, adventure, fantasy and science fiction. Using this darker range of hues, Shattered seeks to subvert — to shatter — the hidebound stereotypes that have obscured the Asian image since the earliest days of immigration: the stoic brute, the prodigious brain, the exotic temptress, the inscrutable alien, the devious manipulator.
Creators included in the eclectic and impressive lineup include leading Asian American comics creators such as Gene Yang (National Book Award finalist for American Born Chinese), GB Tran (Vietnamerica), Christine Norrie (Hopeless Savages), Sonny Liew (Malinky Robot), Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman), Bernard Chang (Supergirl), Sean Chen (Iron Man), Greg Pak (The Hulk), and Takeshi Miyazawa (Runaways), as well as film and literary standouts such as Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet), Michael Kang (The Motel) and Tanuj Chopra (Punching at the Sun). The original graphic short stories they’ve crafted cover topics from ethnic kiddie shows to China’s AIDS policy to air flight security procedures; from the untold backstory of Flash Gordon’s nemesis Ming the Merciless, to the gritty reality of a day in the life of a young Koreatown gangster.
The first book has become a must-read book for fans of graphic storytelling — Graphic Novel Reporter called it “entertaining, provocative and powerful,” while Eclipse magazine gave it an “A” grade and called it “tremendously rewarding.” But it’s also been widely adopted as course material in ethnic and cultural studies programs as a unique lens on the frequently overlooked history of Asian America.
Shattered is poised to join its predecessor as a contemporary classic of the graphic novel form, incorporating thrills, chills and delight while exposing the hidden issues and vital truths of the nation’s fastest growing and most dynamic community.
Jeff Yang, the founder of the pioneering Asian American periodical aMagazine, writes the Tao Jones column for the Wall Street Journal and is a frequent contributor on NPR. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Parry Shen, best known for his lead role in the hit MTV Films movie Better Luck Tomorrow, lives in Southern California. Keith Chow, an educator and writer, lives in Maryland. Jerry Ma, the founder of the design studio Epic Proportions, lives in New York City.