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The Underlying Racism of Totally Awesome Hulk #1

Comic Books

The Underlying Racism of Totally Awesome Hulk #1

I really liked Totally Awesome Hulk #1. It was fun. It had great art. It had Hulk punching some bastard, two-headed child of Gamera in the heads.


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That being said — I’ve also got a bone to pick with Totally Awesome Hulk #1. Particularly new Asian-American Hulk, Amadeus Cho and a certain depiction of… a “member” of his cast. And no, I’m not talking about his sister Maddy Cho — although she is annoying as all hell. (Who sucker punches their own brother in the face?)


“Oh boy. Here we go again. Everyone finds a reason to get offended these days.”

Hear me out. I’m an Asian male and have been an Asian male for some thirty odd years now, so as the late professor Bobby Brown said: it’s my prerogative. (It’s my prerogative.) You see, Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is being lauded as some spearheading work that provides an impartial view of Asian protagonists; one that finally doesn’t relegate Asian lead characters to kung-fu fighting or pulling rickshas into crowded Chinatown marketplaces with buck-toothed grin etched on their faces or having flatulence that reeks of jasmine rice.

But you know what? It’s a facade. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the racism in Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is still downright rampant.

“But AiPT!, Totally Awesome Hulk stars a Korean-American Hulk written by a Korean-American writer (Greg Pak), illustrated by a Korean-American artist (Frank Cho). A veritable, ahem… ‘triad’ of Asian-ness — and a pretty damn good one at that. How in any way could this comic be misconstrued as racist? Asians are teeming with pride and a sense of overarching unanimity. Like a hyperproductive robot hivemind. Surely they wouldn’t disparage or impede their own.”


True, Pak is a good writer — he had me flipping pages in Totally Awesome Hulk #1 with delight. And Frank Cho might as well be hailed a comic book surgeon, so precise are his gorgeous anatomical depictions of the Hulk’s sculpted twelve-pack; his cannonball deltoids; his ostentatious obliques and his luscious latissimus dorsi…

Ahem. The guy draws damn well, let’s just leave it at that.

Anyways, just because Amadeus Cho is written and drawn by fellow Asians, doesn’t mean we aren’t still getting the short end of the stick. And I do mean that literally. Turn your attention Exhibit A, the infamous Hulk with his pants off scene:


First of all, why is the baby guffawing at AmChulk’s green phallus? Is Chulk’s gleaming green love sword so aberrant that even a baby finds it comical? Is this some hackneyed Asian stereotype afoot here? If a baby laughed at my exposed malachite man-parts (which they wouldn’t, so let’s just make this situation a hypothetical) especially after I just saved his life — well, let’s just say I’d have to do the right thing: mushroom stamp the little bastard directly on the forehead. Sure, being the Hulk and all — it’d probably knock the little guy for a loop. A concussion at the least and almost assuredly loss of consciousness — but research shows that babies retain 500% more information between the ages of 1-3, especially after they’ve taken a nap. (Source: Girls and Corpses Magazine) Most importantly though, children in Asian culture respect their elders and that notion extends to their loinparts.

Second, why isn’t Jackie (the babysitter wearing the leopard print swimwear) more impressed with the unveiling of Chulk’s emerald endowment? Whenever I’ve exposed myself to a black woman holding an Asian baby in public her initial reaction has been that of admiration and a little bit of dread. My success rate for “getting it in” after that has been a whopping 100%. I don’t like to brag… but I’m batting 1.000. So why make Amadeus Cho some bumbling, romantically inept plebe with the ladies? Because he’s a teenager? Who cares? The ball was dropped because instead of cheap laughs at Amadeus’ expense, we could have had an amazing, sex-stallion of an Asian protagonist in comic books for the first time. Just like myself!

Why does Marvel have the right to misrepresent me? The amazing, modest, sex-stallion Asian-American demographic?

Just look at the reaction Bruce Banner Hulk ass nekkid gets in comparison from Dr. Doom, one of the most brilliant minds in all of comicdom:


Dr. Doom isn’t a man that’s easily impressed. He’s traveled through time; he’s hustled the Power Cosmic from Silver Surfer; he’s damn near omnipotent in the latest (and still ongoing) Secret Wars crossover. But, damn, just look at him here. His eyes are literally popping out of his head at the sight of naked Banner Hulk. What the hell? Where was that reaction for Amadeus, huh?


Why am I so mad? If conservatives and Fox News can get mad at the way writer Nick Spencer portrayed the Sons of Serpents’ extreme disapproval of illegal immigration in Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, you bet your sweet ass I have the right to get angry at this. More of a right, really, as this matter is way more important. Boo freakin’ hoo — we’re talking the falsification of entire demographic’s manhood for cryin’ out loud — not equating one facet of a fictitious group’s beliefs to an entire political ethos in a clear case of politician’s syllogism.

The most logical explanation here is that AmChulk has been fighting in seawater for a good third of the issue and despite the mesh lining on his stylish, scientifically modified purple swim trunks meant to prevent chafing — shrinkage happens. But does writer Greg Pak specify that in the script to give both we the readers and female beach-goer Jackie the benefit of the doubt? Not a chance.

So why would a team of proud Asian creators set out to denigrate their own kind?

Simply put, they didn’t. I place the blame on the editors of Totally Awesome Hulk #1: Chris Robinson, Darren Shan and Mark Paniccia. They realize that Greg Pak and Frank Cho are trying to perpetuate the “alpha male” Asian image, but for some reason or another… they don’t want it to happen.

Out of sheer outrage, I conducted a surreptitious chat with both Pak and Cho to see what the deal was. Although I won’t repost that chat here as it’s rife with spoilers for upcoming issues, I will show you what the original scene of AmChulk losing his drawers called for before the editors demanded modification:


Much better/realistic way for that scene to have played out given the reactions I’ve received in the same situation, if you ask me. And I know Greg Pak and Frank Cho agree — because that’s exactly what they wanted in the first place. Don’t worry boys, I’m getting the original message out there for you.

Share my sagacious sentiments? Let me know what you think of this unfair depiction of Amadeus Cho Hulk and pick up future issues of Totally Awesome Hulk with me so Mr. Pak and Mr. Cho can get their earnest depictions out there without restriction. #freeamchulksrealgenitals

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