DC Comics will unveil its latest superhero in a decades-old series this January when San Diego-based author Minh Lê releases “Green Lantern: Legacy.”
Inspired by his Vietnamese heritage, Lê’s graphic novel tells the story of teenager Tai Pham whose life changes after discovering his grandmother’s jade ring. The anticipated comic is a continuation of the Green Lantern series of characters by DC Comics that dates back to the 1940s.
The author of several children’s books, including the award-winning “Drawn Together,” Lê said he was influenced by his own grandmother as he created the plot for the latest DC Comics superhero.
“I had two main aims when I began: to find a story that felt authentic and fresh—but to also stay true to the Green Lantern characters and mythology,” Lê said. “Green Lantern is a hero who has a green power ring that is drawn to an individual’s strength of will, so when I was thinking of an idea for a story I realized that I actually knew someone who fit that description: My grandmother.”
Describing his grandmother as his family’s hero, Lê said he used his own family’s history to create the setting of his latest book.
“Coming from a family of immigrants and refugees as I do is very humbling because my own daily struggles come into sharp relief when I consider the heroism that has been required by my family to get to where they are,” Lê said. “I know this is true of many families like mine, and this dynamic comes into play for our main character Tai when he discovers his new powers and learns more about his grandmother’s past.”
The character of Tai Pham is more so personal for Lê who said he didn’t have children’s books he could relate to while as he was growing up in the U.S.
“Growing up, I loved reading but I didn’t see many stories on the shelf that reflected my own experience,” Lê said. “My hope is that Vietnamese children, in particular, will take pride in seeing a superhero with a similar background to theirs and that it will give them a lens to look upon their own family and community to find the heroes in their own lives.”
But, the path to becoming an author wasn’t a clear one. Lê, who is originally from Connecticut before settling in La Mesa with his family of four last year, said he began his career as a book critic. Writing for publications such as the New York Daily News and The New York Times, Lê said he was encouraged by his wife to submit a manuscript in recent years.
Inspired by other Asian authors such as Gene Luen Yang and Grace Lin, Lê’ is now the author of books that have won awards such as the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and the Anna Dewdney Read-Together Award. He plans to release another children’s book in March and more in the future.
“The number of books written by and about Asian American authors is still small but growing,” Lê said. “I consider myself very lucky because I get to be part of the effort in expanding what kind of stories are available on the bookshelf.”
Minh Lê will discuss his new book at the San Diego Tết Festival at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. For more information, go to sdtet.com/.
For more information about the “Green Lantern: Legacy” or Minh Lê, go to minhlebooks.com/. “Green Lantern: Legacy” will be available for purchase on Tuesday.