Save a table in awards season, because here's a new frontrunner for all your statues. The Good Asian #1 is a dazzling work of historical fiction may play as cop-aganda, but in every panel, in every detail is a masterwork of craft and shows you a number of details about American history that many might not know. This doesn't rely as deeply on the "yellow peril" stereotypes as Charlie Chan stories did, and can be a touch didactic in making certain points, but still remains solid storytelling.
Let's first talk about the visuals presented by Alexandre Tefenkgi, Lee Loughridge and Jeff Powell. Alexandre Tefenkgi employs a very impressive comics take on the observation gag used for years on the show Psych, making absolutely superb visual storytelling. The color choices Lee Loughridge makes in thematically presenting different flashbacks and moments are very effective. The design and lettering from Jeff Powell make this look like a Criterion edition works, and that's fantastic.
Then let's get into the script from Pornsak Pichetshote. The noirish tones are perfect, the play on corrupt cops and impossible shades of gray to navigate moods in collaboration with Loughridge's colors. This is a work that very keenly shows how people can use the medium of comics to depict a tale effectively.
As noted, the history at play here might be shocking and new for those not exposed to it, but if you already know about things like the Johnson-Reed Act, this may feel a little heavy-handed in its presentation of the indisputable facts of American racism in this era (if that's even possible). The detecting is fine, but the inner struggle of the protagonist Edison Hark could be seen as a little superficial, not delving deeper into the relevance of his badge and upbringing as a separation from people who look like him, a la Randall on This Is Us.
Overall, you should expect to hear more from this book unless subsequent issues completely drop the ball and this masterful work is at the very least worthy of your respect. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
The Good Asian #1
By Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi
Writer PORNSAK PICHETSHOTE's long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed INFIDEL with stunning art by ALEXANDRE TEFENKGI (OUTPOST ZERO)! Following Edison Hark-a haunted, self-loathing Chinese-American detective-on the trail of a killer in 1936 Chinatown, THE GOOD ASIAN is Chinatown noir starring the first generation of Americans to come of age under an immigration ban, the Chinese, as they're besieged by rampant murders, abusive police, and a world that seemingly never changes. 'With snappy period dialogue and deftly engaging art, PORNSAK and ALEX have crafted a gripping and authentic crime story from an Asian-American POV. This is the book I've been waiting for.'-CLIFF CHIANG (PAPER GIRLS) 'Edison Hark immediately joins the ranks of Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade in a smart, classic noir drenched in style and history.'-JAMES TYNION IV (DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, Batman) 'Like any good noir, a sense of dread hangs off every page of THE GOOD ASIAN, a brittle story that takes place during an unfamiliar time in our history that is tragically all too familiar now in our present.'-BRIAN AZZARELLO (100 Bullets, Batman)