“This was just a perfect finale to what has been an excellent book. I cannot recommend The Good Asian highly enough. It’s an intriguing crime drama, it’s got great characters, wonderful art in both composition and colour, solid lettering. It has a message and tells a history that’s important. It juggles some really strong themes with twists and turns in the narrative.”
Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi
Colourist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Jeff Powell
So here we are at the finale of The Good Asian. This has been one of my favourite books of 2021/2022. There’s been mystery, really great character study and a really important message about both the historic context of immigration and how it reflects on our modern world. The art is top notch, the design brilliant. This is a book that has had twists and turns and a rollercoaster of emotion and here we are at the end of this journey and the ending (spoiler alert) is perfect.
If you wanted answers to the mystery of Ivy Chen then you will get them. What I like is that these answers are not easy. No-one in this story entirely has the moral high ground (except perhaps Lucy). These are flawed characters, some more than others, but each one has facets to be explored. The answers come through that exploration. Motive is the key to the crime and here we look deep into the motives of several of our key characters; Mason Carroway, Victoria Carroway and Edison Hark. What is revealed is not pretty nor clean and the solution has to reflect that
If you’re the sort of person who wishes for justice to be done then there is a kind of justice here but it’s not the sort of justice you get with law and order. Not only does that reflect the nature of crime noir but the fact that there isn’t much justice to be had for people like Edison, because of who they are and the system they are in. There’s a really wonderful analogy toward the end of the book as another characters tells Edison about chop suey, a dish not from China but invented in America, in Chinatown, to make China and Chinese food more palatable to Americans, this new dish was a hybrid, just trying to survive. That’s been at the heart of Edison’s journey throughout.
There are just some really wonderful character moments. Everything unfolds slowly with flashbacks and the present interwoven as gradually we get the answers. Much of them come from conversations between two characters; Edison and Victoria, Edison and Mason, Edison and Terence Chang. Those are the moments where we get revelations about the case but also get to see the truth behind the characters, how they fit into things and how they feel about the series of events that led to blackmail, torture and murder.
The art as always works really well. There is such a great combination of panels and techniques. The panels where Victoria is hitting Edison with the candlestick have some real weight to her actions. You can almost feel it and hear the sound of the metal hitting flesh. Then there are large panes where we get exposition as Edison lays it out in narration and we focus on Victoria’s face, the guilt, the resignation, we can see all those emotions in her and the art helps give weight to her feelings as the text explains what’s been going on.
Then there are the flashbacks, the colouring taking on blue grey tones a really excellent choice. I enjoyed the little details in those flashbacks as well. The sabotaged bike basket, the letter from Ethel, all little hints and clues that led to Edison to put all the pieces together. There is also the bright red blood in those flashbacks, really standing out. Those details are just great. There’s been so much care and attention put into every aspect of this book.
I could list so many panels that I think are just so well composed. From Victoria’s retreat from a room being framed in boxes as she gets further away, Edison surrounded by cubes, a few in front of him reflecting what he’s discovered as he talks to Mason. Then there’s the confrontation of Edison and Mason juxtaposed on top of images of Frankie’s murder and Victoria’s regret. There are some incredibly powerful touches to the art.
All along though this has been about more than just a disappearance. It’s been about more than murder and blackmail. It’s been about a community. About identity and fitting in. Edison Hark might have a new face but many of the challenges are the same as the old ones. He’s struggled with his own identity, his own place but here too we see the impact on a wider community. That theme continues as Victoria’s motives become clear and Edson once again confronts some ugly truths close to home.
There are so many themes that are sadly very relevant today. I have learnt a lot just reading this book and it’s made me seek out more knowledge about a period of history I was unaware of, one which sadly resonates today in many ways. There are some real gut punches of revelation at the end too. How immigration of Asians was restricted up until the 1960’s. Which is both sad and somehow unsurprising.
I am not going to spoil the plot details. I admit I wasn’t sure of all the answers myself and I like that the mystery still had that depth to it. It has a noir ending which is right and fitting. Yet as well as a satisfying ending to the crime, or as satisfying as you can get in this situation, there are some bigger questions at stake. Edison Hark still has some answers to find when it comes to the questions of identity, hiding, surviving and who you are. I am glad to hear that there will be answers to that to come.
This was just a perfect finale to what has been an excellent book. I cannot recommend The Good Asian highly enough. It’s an intriguing crime drama, it’s got great characters, wonderful art in both composition and colour, solid lettering. It has a message and tells a history that’s important. It juggles some really strong themes with twists and turns in the narrative. It is one of the books I have looked forward to every month, and one that I enjoy re-reading. If you have read from the start this will satisfy you and if you haven’t, you should go back and read it all. You will not regret getting to know Edison Hark and a wonderful cast of characters in a wonderful noir setting with some important history.
One last thing I should have mentioned earlier the cover of this issue (by Dave Johnson) is sublime and my favourite of the entire series. Just wonderful. It is exactly like a poster for one of those old noir films it’s perfect for this book.
P.S. Image if you could get me a collected hardback edition that would be excellent.