Having visited China and Japan, today’s post continues our world tour in comics with super-heroes from other Asian countries .
Hailing from the autonomous Chinese territory of Hong Kong, Striker Z was a member of the Power Company. Like Japan’s Sunburst in the 80s, he hailed from the world of cinema stuntmen. I would like to see more of Danny Tsang in comics; in fact I’d like to see more of the Power Company.
The All-New Atom, Ryan Choi was born in HK. Most heinously, he was murdered by Deathstroke in 2010. Returning one of their few Asian heroes to life was one of the most welcome moments in DC Rebirth.
We’ve already met Blackbat, the Eurasian Batgirl. With Barbara Gordon firmly back in the limelight, I thought sending Cassandra to Hong Kong was a good idea but now she’s back as Orphan.
Two Korean-Americans made their debut in the 21st century at DC. The Ray, the fourth hero to go by that nom de guerre, was an energy-manipulating lifeguard. Like a ray of light, he can only travel in a straight line. New 52 Ray strongly reminded me of the 80s Starman and I found his look rather fussily 90s.
Element Woman is a ditzy Flashpoint and New 52 heroine with powers identical to Metamorpho. She’s a revamp of the ultra-obscure Element Girl from the Sixties. More recently, she was an associate of the Doom Patrol, as Metamorpho has been. I don’t know why comic creators insist on that connection: the fabulous freaks and the World’s Strangest Heroes are a poor fit, thematically
Two recent spin-off characters at Marvel have been more-or-less identified as Korean -American. Amadeus Cho is a boy genius and superhero sidekick who is currently the Totally Awesome Hulk.
Meanwhile, Silk has the same powers as Spider-Man; I’ll be reviewing new volumes of Silk and Spider-Gwen on Some Fantastic Place soon.
The New 52 OMAC was a young Cambodian-American. he reminds me of the Amadeus Cho Hulk and was briefly a member of Justice League International.
Marvel’s first out lesbian hero, Karma, was introduced in a MTU annual by Claremont and Frank Miller. Her origin is linked to the tragedy of the Vietnamese Boat People- late 70s refugees- and as such, she’s a symbol of Liberal Western Guilt, like Sunfire.
Karma’s powers are similar to Deadman and, apart from her body dysmorphia storyline in the mid-80s, she also had an attraction to Kitty Pryde. Karma probably didn’t catch on because her gimmicks- psionic powers and a dark side that threatened to overpower her- were done better with cohorts Mirage and Magik.
Mantis is probably the most significant Eurasian female of the Bronze Age. Her transformation from martial-arts craze cash-in to progenitor of a new species was echoed by Englehart’s New Guardians, whom we’ve seen in previous posts.
This one is named Willow, this time.
Interestingly, Mantis also appeared in other guises at other comics companies before returning to Marvel as love interest for the Silver Surfer and the Vision.
Her association with both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy has me day-dreaming about a cosmic encounter with the Celestial Madonna in the Marvel movie franchise.
It’s a little dismaying to note these heroes tend to conform to certain stereotypes: females with martial arts prowess and diminutive, nerdy youths or boys. We’ll examine further generalisations in representation among Indian and African superheroes at the Big Two in future posts.
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