Ching Lung first appeared in Detective Comics in March 1937
DC’s Chinese Superman will face the 1937 Detective Comics Yellow Peril caricature Ching Lung.
South China Morning Post reports that Ching Lung was a product of the fear Americans felt for China and the East in 1937. The caricature character has now been revived by Gene Yang.
Yang had originally turned down the opportunity to write a new Chinese Superman for DC Comics saying the series could be “a cultural and political landmine”. However, Yang soon changed his mind and became a writer on New Super-Man.
Now, Yang will revive one of DC Comics’ oldest villains of political incorrectness.
Ching Lung first appeared in the very first issue of Detective Comics in 1937, preceding the first appearance of Superman in 1938. The character now appears on the final pages of New Super-Man No.8.
The comic sees Ching Lung face Chinese Super-Man Kong Kenan and the Justice League of China including the Batman and Wonder Woman of China.
Ching Lung is now considered to be a ‘Yellow Peril villain’ and an image of the past so reviving the politically incorrect character may seem like an odd choice for a series that otherwise embraces diversity.
However, Yang, who is Chinese-American, defends his decision to revive the character which he argues fits into DC’s Rebirth era.
“If Rebirth is about embracing the history of the DC universe, then we do have to go back to the very beginning, right?” Yang told SCMP. “If we really want to embrace who we are as Americans, we have to look at both the good and the bad and the pretty and the ugly of our history. If rebirth is about reclaiming a lot of DC’s past, we also have to examine some of the ugly stuff too. So that’s what we’re hoping to do.”
“I thought if we redesign Ching Lung we will actually be introducing a new form of Yellow Peril. And that is definitely something that I was not interested in doing,” Yang added. “The purpose is not necessarily to kick up old stereotypes as it is to comment on them. My hope is, at the end of all of the storyline, the entire long arc that deals with Ching Lung, that a reader will be able to see it as both a comment on the past and evidence of how far we’ve come.”
“We were very thoughtful about [the return of Ching Lung],” said Yang. “I think that the two dominant emotions that I had going into the publication of issue No 8 is a little bit of fear, I’m worried about how the readers are going to take to it, and the second is, I feel proud. I feel proud of playing a small part in the history of DC Comics and the history of American comics in general.”
“DC began with this Yellow Peril image. It’s basically a two-dimensional stereotype that was used to dehumanize an entire people. And now DC has taken its most important symbol, the Superman S, and stuck it on a Chinese character. Now we’re creating this three-dimensional Chinese hero.”