Female characters take centre stage

Publisher: Image

Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colourist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Jeff Powell

It’s not often I get to say that a comic gets better every issue but The Good Asian is that comic. It introduces a new character to the plot, provides more interesting and relevant history and advances the central mystery. Really it’s successful on every level.

When last we left Edison Hark he had crossed paths with Hui Long who had attempted to kill Terence Chang but that’s not where we start this issue. We start this issue setting a scene that increases our understanding of the community in which Edison is looking for Ivy Chen. Our guide in this issue is not Edison but Lucy.

Lucy is a really good character and I really appreciated her narration. Unlike Edison she’s grown up with her father and therefore has had a very different experience of America than Edison. Hers is another story of immigration and it’s clear that her father has some secrets about his past and how he came to be in San Francisco, something he doesn’t want to share with his daughter.

Without Lucy there’s no doubt Edison wouldn’t have made the progress he has. It’s Lucy who provides information that leads to contacts who knew Ivy and might hold further information about her. I’m going to leave it there and keep it vague but I will say that even though the focus is on Lucy’s knowledge we get another insight into Edison’s past as well which is really welcome.

Though Lucy is the narrator and we see things through her eyes we’re still getting impressions of Edison and his own internal struggles, there’s some really nice subtle character work going on here. The interactions between Lucy and Edison reveal much about them and it’s interesting to see Edison’s reactions to a woman in prolonged interactions, which we haven’t seen him do yet.

I don’t want to go too deeply into the plot as I think it’s more interesting to let the information play out. It’s really nice to be able to see these things unfold. You really do feel as if you are there with Edison and Lucy working the case and I think a lot of that is due to Lucy’s narration which really draws the reader in. She’s much more relatable than Edison and I like that there’s quite a bit of this issue dedicated just to her and her life.

Having Lucy’s story really expands things out. It highlights the young women of the Chinese community. After all Ivy Chen was a young woman in the community and there’s parallels between her and Lucy. It’s nice to see some of the women taking centre stage as there are quite a few interesting female characters we meet along the way.

As usual the art is top notch. The opening which tells the story of the earlier Chinese immigrants and their struggles is really nicely realised. I was especially struck by a couple of panels showing a boot coming down and the face of a Chinese man. Once again the art really helps tell the story and there’s some images that do just stick with you here. Some of those are from Lucy’s life. The shabby apartment she shares with her father, the line of women at the telephone exchange, the lock that marks the working days as the women gossip around Lucy. It’s all really effective and paints a very strong picture of Lucy’s life. There are also some great close-ups of facial expressions which help convey so much. We get to see the whole face but even just the focus on the eyes or the mouth really show what the characters are thinking and feeling.

Then there’s the colouring which again sets the scene. I especially liked how it went from blue when Edison and Lucy were talking to a lead to red when Edison was reduced to violence. There’s some really nice use of black too, the shadows and night time telling as much as the muted colours used at the telephone exchange.

The lettering also works really well. Lucy’s narration contrasts with the speech and Edison’s thoughts. It’s always easy to tell who is speaking or thinking and makes it easy to understand the thoughts and speech of all the characters.

There’s a revelation at the end which provides a new lead for Edison to follow. I look forward to the next part of his investigation. I also hope we see Lucy again because she’s a compelling character.

If you have not been reading this book you should. There’s an extra bonus at the end as there’s always information about the actual real world. This time it gives us an immigration timeline. I really appreciate this extra context as it does help when reading as well as illuminating me about a part of history I was unaware of.

That’s why I really appreciate this book at the moment.

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