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‘The Good Asian Vol. 1 & Vol. 2’ TPB (review)

Written by Pornsak Pichetshote
Art by Alexandre Tefenkgi, Lee Loughridge
Published by Image Comics

 

America has always been a country plagued by xenophobia and racial discrimination. Pornsak Pichetshote’s The Good Asian, is beatufiul love letter about racial discrimination against the Chinese community in America during the Chinese Exclusion Act. The purpose of this law was to keep Chinese laborers out of America. Why? Because the Chinese were supposedly stealing good jobs and wages from hard-working White Americans. I am sure this history sounds like a familiar theme. Just change the continent of origin of the immigrants from Asia to South America and the time to the present, and we will see that many of these same racist and Xenophobic ideas are still in place today.

Edison Hark’s journey in The Good Asian struck a significant chord. As an African-American male that works in a predominantly White world, I had a strong sense of kinship with Edison.

Edison Hark was a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective on the trail of a killer in Hawaii’s 1936 Chinatown. Edison was the only Chines cop on the force in Hawaii during a time when racism against Chinese immigrants was at an all-time high. Edison was forced to be in the unenviable position of bridging the gap between the Chinese and White worlds. For obvious reasons, Edison was not accepted in either world, even though he was attempting to hold himself to the standard of being a member of the “model minority.”

The Good Asian is Chinatown noir starring the first generation of Americans to come of age under an immigration ban, the Chinese. They’re besieged by rampant murders, abusive police, and a world that seemingly never changes.

Pornsak and Alex have created two volumes of genuinely engaging and thought-provoking work. While The Good Asian is a crime story about a missing girl, a crazed serial killing ghost, and the gangs of Chinatown, Pornsak has brilliantly crafted a story about the ugliest crime in America that still exists today racial discrimination and oppression.

The Good Asian is not simply a book on the evils of racism. Like any good noir detective story, there is a palpable sense of dread on every page. I truly empathized with Hark’s self-loathing because of my own experiences. However, all is not lost, and by the end of Pornsak’s tale, Hark’s idea of what being an excellent Asian means to his community and, more importantly, to himself.

4.8 out of 5 Stars

 

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