Down These Mean Streets A Man Must Go: Thoughts On The Good Asian #1

"He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world." Raymond Chandler, on writing the fictional American detective in The Good Asian #1.

The Good Asian #1
The Good Asian #1 cover by Dave Johnson. Credit: Image Comics

Ex-Vertigo editor and Infidel writer Pornsak Pichetshote returns to Image with The Good Asian #1, a detective story in the Chandler lineage. Pichetshote teams up with Outpost Zero's Alexandre Tefenkgi and colorist Lee Loughridge for this project. Tefenkgi and Loughridge pull a trick I last saw in David Aja's Iron Fist, where they draw the reader's attention towards telling details by putting another panel border around it and color it in translucent red. Also, a commendation to letterer Jeff Powell for finding a way to have Pichetshote's heavy narration from drowning out the art.

Chandler laid out the formula for writing a detective in his style, and The Good Asian's team largely follows it. Their detective is named Edison Hark, an Asian American man trapped between the racism of his superiors who ask him to help them deport Asian immigrants to California and the plight of those same immigrants looking to America for a better life.

"He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job." Chandler, again

Detective stories are often about injustices, and to get to the root of the matter, the detective must travel between all strata of society in order to discover Chandler's hidden truth. The injustice, in this case, is the persecution of Asian immigrants to California and their exploitation by powerful white men. In the period of The Good Asian #1, Asian immigrants are America's foreign menace du jour, and the story is about how Hark balances his conscience and the racist requirements of his job.

An aside: Foreign menaces aren't unique to America, but a) we can't help where we're born, and b) if America is to be the City upon a Hill, "everyone else does it" isn't an acceptable response. This oversized first issue reads like comfort food, despite the uncomfortable setting. Discomfort food, maybe? The Good Asian #1 is a new twist on an old standard. If you like detective stories, you'll like what Pichetshote & Co. serve up with The Good Asian.

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About James Hepplewhite

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