Review: The Good Asian #1
The Good Asian introduces readers to main character Edison Hark—a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective—on the trail of a killer in 1936 Chinatown. The Good Asian #1 brilliantly mixes a noir detective story with real-world history involving immigration bans and the rampant racism that plagued the time.
I personally love pulp detective stories. There’s a great balance of cheese, tropes, action, mystery, and sexy when done right. A great story will often feel like something is spiraling out of control as the detective gets dragged further into the mystery. The Good Asian #1 is just one issue but writer Pornsak Pichetshote does a fantastic job of touching upon a lot of those things and gets us the expected spiral.
But what Pichetshote does even better is work in real world history.
The Good Asian #1 is an amazing start in how “authentic” it is. It uses American history to help shape and drive the narrative. It uses that real history to present the issues facing the Asian-American community at that time. The issue reminds us of the blatant racism practiced out in the open and with acceptance. It’s a hard issue to read. The words used made me cringe. But it’s reality. Grant Din helped shape that realism as the historical consultant on the series.
The laws were real. The racism was rampant. Places like Angel Island existed. The comic even uses real transcripts from Angel Island as part of its dialogue. This is a comic that not only wants to deliver a solid detective story but wants to do so in an authentic way. It takes the rather troubling history of Asian crimesolvers and updates it with a more historically accurate take. The racism isn’t in the characters, it’s what’s said to those characters and how they’re treated. But, it doesn’t forget at its heart the comic is about a mystery that needs to be solved and all that comes with the investigation.
Alexandre Tefenkgi handles the art with Lee Loughridge on color and Jeff Powell on lettering. It does a great job in that respect with nailing the gritty look I’d expect in this sort of detective story. The colors are kept to a minimal with blues, orangers, purples, and reds used to emphasize the world. It’s a beautiful look and perfect style to match the story. The lettering is done so well as the characters slip between English and Chinese. A simple shape of the speech bubble differentiates between the two and is such a simple way to handle what could be an overwhelming thing if done other ways.
The Good Asian #1 is a fantastic comic. You can enjoy it for its detective story alone. But, it’s the details that really build out the issue and series. It has an authenticity about it that feels like it props up its main story. It’s a hard comic to read at times with the racism thrown around, but that adds to the authenticity. This is a comic for fans that love a good noir story to chew on or like a little bit of history in what they read. A hell of a start.
Story: Pornsak Pichetshote Art: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Color: Lee Loughridge Letter: Jeff Powell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review