The Creative Team Behind Green Lantern: Legacy
Written by Minh Le
Illustrated by Andie Tong
Colors by Sarah Stern
Letters by Ariana Maher
Fans of the DC Universe were introduced to two new Green Lanterns of Earth over the last eight years, both of whom were people of color, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. This time, “Green Lantern: Legacy” presents two new Lanterns of Vietnamese descent – Tai Pham and his grandmother Chi Dao. Reading this book for the first time, I felt an instant connection to a character who grew up with circumstances similar to my own – being a child of immigrants who survived the journey from Vietnam to America, a household emphasis on hard work and education to succeed, and valuing service to community and family.
Being that Green Lantern: Legacy is a graphic novel, it’s worth noting that Andie Tong’s illustration is perfectly complemented by Sarah Stern’s colors. No matter where the setting is – at home, in school, outer space, within the creative mind of Tai as he meditates to train as the newest Green Lantern – the artwork and colors both always manage to bring these places to life.
Thematically, the story calls into question the balance between pursuing innovation and maintaining communities with legacy, as well as what legacy can mean to a young person with their whole life ahead of them.
This is the type of book I am excited to share with my young nieces and nephews. While I’m sure they will enjoy this riveting superhero of color story, I also want to challenge them to think hard about the feelings they have about this work and frame conversations about the ideas the author introduces.
Taking a first look at Green Lantern: Legacy, I have to mention the beautiful cover that puts an Asian twist to the familiar Green Lantern emblem.
The Characters of Green Lantern: Legacy
When we meet Tai we can see he’s a young artist, a trait that instantly reminds us of Kyle Rayner. But just as quickly, Legacy reminds us he is Vietnamese as he addresses his Ba Noi, the Vietnamese name for paternal grandmother.
Grandma Lantern has all the bravery and heroism that you would expect from a ring-slinger. And not only that, she is a valued member of her community in Coast City.
“You weren’t afraid and your instinct was to protect those who needed help. Those two things will serve you well,” – Grandma to Tai Pham.
We get to know his best friends Tommy and Serena, meet the family cat Jordan (is this a nod to Hal Jordan, I think so!), and interact with other members of his family like sisters Bee and Lan.
And Green Lantern John Stewart plays the role of mentor to Tai as he learns the ropes of being the newest protector of Sector 2814.
The Writing in Green Lantern: Legacy
There is so much quality dialogue in this book that it makes me question whether this is aimed at a group older than middle-schoolers or if I wasn’t reading at an appropriate level at that age.
While the words from some characters are direct and easy to understand such as: “The Jade Market was always about more than money. How do you put a price tag on community?” This is juxtaposed to the soapbox speeches of others like: “This is how innovation works. Raising yourself to a level where the world is a completely blank canvas. Down there, you get caught up in the messiness of reality: what is practical, what is possible. You want to think like an innovator? Leave all that behind because up here… anything is possible… If you spend your time standing on people’s shoulders, you’ll never learn to fly… The world continues to be imperfect because people are afraid to let go of the past. And no one rises to this level while being weighed down like that. As a fellow visionary, you hold your destiny in the palm of your hand… never let anyone take that from you.”
And then there’s this one line, I have to share, just because it forces me to reconsider my understanding of what creativity is and reflect on the immigrant journey of my family: “Your grandmother came to a new country and dreamed up a whole new future for her family. I’d say that’s the very definition of creative.”
The Art in Green Lantern: Legacy
My favorite part about the art is seeing Minh in the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) costume. Sometimes when there is a graphic novel aimed at younger readers, there is an assumption less talented or developmental artists are attached. This is not the case for Green Lantern: Legacy. The illustration, coloring, and lettering are at their A-game, making this story just as visually stimulating as any of the top-selling books from DC or Marvel.
More About The Author and Illustrator
Author Minh Le is a federal early childhood policy expert and author of the picture books Drawn Together and Let Me Finish!. He’s also written for the New York Times, The Horn Book, Huffington Post. Le is a first-generation Vietnamese American who received his undergraduate education at Dartmouth College, and later earned a Master’s in Education from Harvard University. The author currently lives near Washington DC with his wife and sons.
Illustrator Andie Tong has experience working on comics such as Spectacular Spider-Man UK, The Batman Strikes!, Tron: Betrayal, Plants vs. Zombies, Star Wars, Tekken, Stan Lee’s The Zodiac Legacy. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife and two children.