I don't have my copy of the book with me, or I could write a more detailed review. I'll try to write about what I remember. First of all, this book ma...moreI don't have my copy of the book with me, or I could write a more detailed review. I'll try to write about what I remember. First of all, this book makes me really happy just by existing. The only reasons it doesn't get five unqualified stars are: 1) the quality of the art is somewhat variable, and 2) it was a little unclear how some of the stories fit (or not) into a larger narrative. While some of the stories stand entirely on their own, others are interconnected, and several of them hint at a larger story that isn't contained within this anthology. The editors provide a chart to explicitly show the connections between characters and stories, but it's a little hard to follow, and I was left with the feeling of a mostly unexplored universe with a lot of potential. What I really hope, of course, is that this universe *will* continue to be explored, and these stories expanded on--online, in another volume, anything! I'm greedy, what can I say--I devoured this book, said, "That was great!" and then immediately said, "I want more!"
Looking at the authors and artists who contributed, it seems like a really wide range of Asian ethnicities is represented. That's great! The stories themselves are less diverse, featuring predominantly Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters, though there are a few SEAsian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern characters represented. I guess it's not surprising that East Asian characters dominate--especially since there's a notable focus on WWII, and therefore on Japanese-American history--but it is kind of interesting when you consider the creators behind them. Just goes to show that racial/ethnic hierarchies exist at all levels, I guess. So that's another thing I'd like to see as this universe grows--a little more diversity in the characters, reflecting the diversity of the creators.
I was super-pleased that there was a chapter, "Girl Power", devoted to female superheroes. Given that all of the primary editors are men, it would have been all too easy for this book to slide into a male-centric fantasy of reclaiming Asian-American masculinity, which it avoided. It's kind of sad how happy a simple thing like not stomping all over women makes me, but there you go.
Stories I particularly enjoyed include: Driving Steel, The Blue Scorpion and Chung, and Learn to Share (which I love especially because it features a classic "victim"--a little girl rescued from sex slavery--but she is a superhero, too).
In sum: I highly recommend this book, and I hope it is the beginning of something huge!(less)
I wanted to be more excited about this book than I was. I guess, based on the subtitle, I expected it to deal more with race than it actually did (bas...moreI wanted to be more excited about this book than I was. I guess, based on the subtitle, I expected it to deal more with race than it actually did (basically not at all). On the other hand, I guess it's a good thing to have a comic starring a mixed-race Asian character who just is, without it being a big deal. Overall, the story was pretty entertaining, with some laugh-out-loud moments. Also, I liked Mayumi--although in some ways she fit into "Japanese girlfriend" stereotypes, I thought Chao successfully played with those stereotypes while at the same time creating a character with humor and agency.(less)
On rereading, 7/30/13: Wow. I got so much more out of this book the second time around. I think it took me longer to read this time, too, because I ha...moreOn rereading, 7/30/13: Wow. I got so much more out of this book the second time around. I think it took me longer to read this time, too, because I had to pause for crying so often.
--- Oof. Definitely gonna need to reread this one, probably several times. A very timely book for me. I feel like this book is messier than Fun Home, less perfect in the telling. But while I loved Fun Home, I don't remember it making me cry like this made me cry.(less)
**spoiler alert** On the whole, I really liked this series! I love Gene Yang's work, I love this artist's style, and there were times when they did a...more**spoiler alert** On the whole, I really liked this series! I love Gene Yang's work, I love this artist's style, and there were times when they did a really excellent job of recreating the feel of the action and dialogue of the show in comic form. I do have a few nitpicks:
-I'm not sure how I feel about the way Aang and Katara's relationship is handled. But then, that was one of the aspects of the show's finale that I didn't care for either. It's a shame because for the most part I actually liked how they handled the relationship throughout the show--it's just the way they wrapped it up that I didn't like. I think what bothers me is that the whole show is so much about the power and importance of friendship, but at the very end it swerved into the territory of placing romantic relationships on a pedestal, as somehow more important than other types of relationships. And in the comic, having Aang and Katara suddenly with new pet names for each other--while I get it's supposed to be humorous--seems like an extension of that. As if saving the world together AS FRIENDS wasn't enough--suddenly what they mean to each other has changed so much that they need new names for each other. I don't know. It rang false to me.
-Still uncomfortable with Toph's bullying-can-make-you-stronger method of teaching. This was something that bothered me in the show as well, in the episode where Aang learns earthbending. I love Toph and her brashness, but I think it's really irresponsible for the writers to send the message that sometimes people just need to be bullied into overcoming challenges. Nope.
-A linguistic nitpick wrt to the Avatar Fanclub Girls, and the one character in particular: THAT'S NOT HOW UPTALK WORKS!!!!!!!!1111 Guess what, relying on linguistic stereotypes to make teen girls look silly just makes you look like an ass.
Finally, a musing: As I was rewatching the series for the jillionth time recently, I was thinking about the show's emphasis on friendship, and how it seems like Aang has to do something no Avatar before him has, which is to stop a genuine world war and do so as a child, without the benefit of years of training and experience. And how it's utterly clear that he would never be able to do that if it weren't for his friends. I mean, we don't know that much about the past Avatars, we don't know if they had close friends and other relationships, but they almost always appear as these solitary, almost superhuman figures. That got me thinking about Aang as representing a new *kind* of Avatar, a shift from the old order to the new. So then Aang and Roku's conversation at the end, when Aang says that the world is changing and that *his* world is made up first and foremost of people he cares about? Yeah. I love it when my speculations are spot-on.(less)