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The Shadow Hero #5

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by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

Hank has taken up the mantle of the the Green Turtle. After learning the hard way that no one else will intervene or help him, he has joined with an ancient spirit to avenge his father and take down the empire that has plagued the city. Last issue, readers learned that this goes much higher than Mock Beak and the Tong of Sticks. Hank has traveled out to Coolie Hat Rock to the casino and headquarters of Ten Grand. With issue five of The Shadow Hero, Hank attempts to reign down justice, with somewhat lukewarm results.

At the end of issue four, Yang and Liew left readers at a great moment of climax as Hank had burst into the casino, taken out a few goons and announced himself to the world. It made for a great moment and built up the suspense leading into this issue. Here, in issue five, Hank moves his way through the casino in search of the man, known as Ten Grand. There is a lot of great, though unexpected humor in this issue. The series had started with some really fantastic moments of levity. The latter half of issue three and much of issue four carried heavier tones following the loss of Hank’s father. But with issue five, as the momentum returns, so too does the humor. Through Hank’s first real fight as the masked hero, the Green Turtle, he argues with the shadowy spirit. It is fun banter and feels a bit like the snarky back and forth of a Spider-Man comic. The spirit points out the short-sighted nature of Hank’s wish for invulnerability to simply gun shots, leaving him quite vulnerable to all else.

The issue continues to move between plot points and humor and it is a great return to form from where the series had started. Though the middle issues were incredibly strong, it is nice to see Yang bring the humor back to this issue. At the same time, Sonny Liew’s art may be at its best so far in the series in issue #5. At one point, soon after Hank recognizes the limited benefit to his protection by the spirit, the panel that Liew puts on the page is fantastic. Placing Hank in the center, Liew draws the different villains and threats in a circle around him. It is a great moment that captures the near dizzying effect an inexperienced vigilante might feel when faced with a room of goons.

The remainder of issue #5 continues with the same light tone amidst a lot of well-scripted and drawn fight scenes. From the name of the head henchmen, to the fallout from Hank’s attempted kidnapping of Ten Grand, issue five is evidence of how great a pairing this creative team really is. The issue throws in a pretty solid twist near its end and it throws things up in the air once again as the series is nearing its final act. After five chapters, The Shadow Hero has yet to disappoint.

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