Meeting Heroes

Comic Book Enthusiast Vs. Justin Lin

Last night I got a chance to check out a Q&A session with famous Asian American director Justin Lin. In true comic fanboy spirit, I had to capture his essence through photography. Also in true comic fanboy spirit, I stuttered most of my sentences and I think I soiled my pants! Oh well!

It was a good chance to meet with someone who inspires me to keep doing what I'm doing. As well, I find that it is at those moments I can place the human side to those heroes I perceive as being myth and legend. If you want a chance to meet Justin Lin, check out The Chicago Asian American Film Festival. Tomorrow night is the premier and you can meet Asian American celebs and of course, Benhur B. Calaguas. Although I'm not very famous, I'll be a mere spectator... but with a devilish plot to spread the good news of comic books to all those innocent mortals!

May the Nations of the World Tremble!

Its been two weeks but I'm still in awe by the fact that I finally got to teach my workshop at MAASU. I feel like that family that passed all the physical challenges in Double Dare. I did get some prizes like a fancy motel room and two bags of m&m, a bounty fit enough for the Sub-Mariner!

But seriously, it was a good time. My workshop was pretty packed and the students were a lot of fun to talk with. Plus, lots of love goes out to the awesome U of I staff who were always so kind and putting up with all my crap.

if you ever need Benhur again, do not be afraid to summon me again!

Back to the Grid Iron

You guys don't know how good you have it, 2x the posts this week. I will admit this post is to make up for the lack of posts from last week. Perhaps, this simple offering will quell your thirst for knowledge, if not I'll buy you a pizza.

So last time we met we got to talking about the origin of Iron Man, a classic Silver Age character. And what we discovered were some of the horrible characterization of Vietnamese people during the early stages of the Vietnam War. But this would not be the last time Iron Man would be facing foes from Eastern shores.

In fact, one of Iron Man's greatest foes would be another brother from Communist Asia...

The Mandarin!

You'll notice a common look to The Mandarin:

1. Long Skinny Mustache
2. Evil, mad scientist
3. Cat like, slanted eyes
4. Residual hair loss that makes his head look more skeletal

If I didn't know any better I would have mistaken him for Fu Manchu. Yes, the stereotype for all Asian villains lives on and most proudly on The Mandarin.

Premiering in Tales of Suspense #50 The Mandarin was spicier than General Tso's Chicken and he had a little help from his Ten Rings of Power.

Although, I will say those ten rings did not help to improve his costume. I mean here's a simple rule:

NO Shirt!
NO Shoes!
NO Pants!


But for some reason Iron Man allows it! As the story goes: The Mandarin was once a powerful Chinese government official, until ol' Charmian Mao and company decided it was time for a change. That's when Mandi took a walk around a haunted valley and found himself an alien ship that housed Ten Golden Rings and a dead alien dragon man, talk about hitting the jack pot.

With his new bling, Mandi took over a small village and established a plan to take over the world. Thanks to Ironsides, democracy overcomes and Mandi high tales it to some other desert fortress to scheme once again.

And this would go on for years people, years! He even manged to take on the Hulk which to no one's surprise he chalks up another loss.

Its the Hulk... did you really think you could win?

It would also be no surprise that The Mandarin would be the main villain in two of Iron Man's animated features:

Also, the new Iron Man movie will have the Mandi as the main villain. Seriously, I just think we are beating a dead horse. And more than I love beating horses so that I can consume their flesh to continue my youthful immortality, kidding! I just think Iron Man has more pressing foes to battle, like alcoholism or Stilt Man.

He will be missed!

Well the point still remains, we are knee deep in the Silver Age and still no sign of any Asian or Asian American hero coming to our rescue. What ever shall we do? Well don't look at me folks, I'm still doing my best right now to recover all of the Mandarin's Ten Rings of Power!

One more to go!

Join me next time folks when we take a look at another Chinese Super Villain... or wait is he a hero?

The Radioactive Man Cometh!


And Yellow Peril Strikes Again!

I thought we went over this?

Good eve ladies and gents, above is Asian Hero Radioactive Man in the latest issue of Civil War: The Initiative. Check out the face on that guy. Does this look seem a little familiar? Maybe something to the likes of this...

Thanks Wing! What a nice set of choppers you got there!

I really don't hold a grudge a against the artist who drew this rendition of our Jade Emperor, I'm simply going to label this blatant ignorance. But you must know that I, Benhur Calaguas, can't just let this go without saying something. After many years of believing that Yellow Peril art was slowly disappearing, something like this appears and it makes me feel like Asian and Asian American Heroes are set back another hundred years! That is why I must continue to write in the hopes you, the few who can tolerate me, will inspired to write, create, or tell your own stories of Asian and Asian American Heroes! We must not let this stand! So I decided to write to Marvel and Joe Quesada about this and I'll try not to seem too jerky, wish me luck!

Setting us back another century!

Let's get educated again

Okay, so lets talk about Iron Man Again! Last time we spoke I told you of his plan to check out the sites and sounds of war torn Vietnam! You see million dollar man Anthony Edward Stark decided to go on a little business trip to show compatriots of democracy some new fangle transistors! Until this man ruined his Champagne Dreams and Caviar Wishes...

Oh Wong Chu... when are you ever going to learn!

Thats right folks, the scourge of North Vietnam... Wong Chu! Although I cannot say I'm very knowledgeable about the culture or naming traditions Vietnam, but I don't think Wong Chu is a common Vietnamese name. Well let me just say, "The Research" wasn't all there.

Any how, if it hadn't been for Wong Chu's love for American Billionaires and Boobie traps then ol' Tony wouldn't have gotten that piece of shrapnel stuck to his chest. But it gets better check out the old Vietnamese sage who comes to his rescue...

Yinsen! Sounds like something my parents made me drink when I got sick last week

So with his mentor's help, they make the suit of armor and KABOOM! Tony's mentor gets shot and it ends with him giving Wong Chu a new one...

Okay, so I didn't make Iron Man's story too dramatic. The point is... even during the Silver Age no one could put heads or tails together on Asians. So through shoddy research and stereotyping, a loose based Oriental culture was formed thus categorizing every Asian person as a member of Super Asia Land. Wow, its a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to visit.

But wait there's more, join me later this week as we take a closer look at Iron Man's classic foe, The Mandarin!

*Side Note For an unbiased interpretation of Iron Man's origin check out Scott Tipton's Comics 101. I stole some of his pictures, I do not take credit for the work he did to upload them. He is allowed to hurt me, but remember "Imitation is the best form of flattery... suck on that cliché"!

Food, folks, and Mandarin Chicken!


Tragedy, Befalls our Heroes...

Rest in peace, you will be missed!

I didn't know Tommy or Cindy for very long, and I'm not one to best tell their story. However, I did get the opportunity to meet these great individuals and I will miss them and share my condolences to their families.

I don't even think I'm fit enough to tell their tragic death but if you want to get an idea of what happened you can look at this:

Fatal Crash

Let's Talk About Death, oops!

Although this week I wanted to write about my experience at MAASU (I'll get back to that later in this post) and touch base with the Silver Age, this event has really impacted my perspective on life and I just want share. So lets all gather by the computer, hold hands, and read some of my rants.

You can consider this post one of those Special Episodes. You the ones that talk about sex, drugs, rock music, ect. For instance, who remembers the Save by the Bell episode where Zack found out about his Native American roots or when Jessie started doing caffeine pills? Well today is that special episode day, so get some Kleenex it will do you some good.

In comics we take death for granted want to know how, well just check out these two Iconic treasures...

The good die so young... especially after 100 issues

The comics above depict our most beloved Superheroes in the worst scenario: Their Death. I feel we take that kind of death for granted, because we know that in the end they'll come back. Usually its through some kind of miracle of science and magic. Or they are replaced by someone who can fill in that void, like the Blue Beetle.

We either get tired of a character, need to re-con their story, or we just need time apart..."Its not you, its me". What ever the case maybe, we take our heroes for granted. We love them for only so long and then next week they are gone. I guess if your like Thor here, you get that second chance, otherwise you can cheat death like Wolverine and the crowd will never get enough of that!

But in real life we don't get that chance for a second issue, I know I'm shooting out bad puns get over it! Seriously, I've never really experienced such a tragic event so its been an eye opener. I just would like point out the following and share some thoughts.

1. To the families of the departed, my prayers and sympathy go out to you.

2. Life can be long or short, doesn't matter live every day like a Klingon:

Today is a good day to die!

3. Don't forget to say, "I love you!"

Okay, not very anti-hero-esque but hey I don't care if you make fun of me! One thing I know for sure is something I heard in that new Batman movie: "And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

I know corny, cheesy stuff. But you're talking with a comic book fan, we live for quotes like that like the Ghost Rider needs souls of the damned! In all, I'm not letting this tragedy get the best of me and I'm picking up the pieces and gluing them all back together. I wish they were more like Legos.

Lets Remember...

I met Tommy and Cindy about two months ago at NIU. Really nice people, my friend would say "Its so rare to meet such nice and wonderful people". I got a chance to really get to know these two at the MAASU conference last weekend, which might I add was a really good weekend (Thanks to all those who attended). And what really gets me is that weekend was not to long ago, such a short time and yet I'll remember and keep remembering till the end.

At any rate, if you are reading this post and know of these Heroes or if you yourself are missing someone who has recently passed away, my biggest suggestion is to keep their story alive. Don't fear telling yourself or others what you best remember of them. It keeps not only their memory alive, but it can keep you sane and alive as well.

With that, join me next week as I will tell you more about my MAASU experience and I'll finally get to tell you all about Iron Man, gosh I'm such a procrastinator. Forgive me? This is not the last you heard of the Diabolical Benhur!

Please feel free to write a comment...


Short Hiatus!

Plight of the Asian American Superhero Coming to MAASU

Sorry, I know I have to go for a short time (Two Weeks Tops, I promise!). But all my begging worked and I'm heading to teach a workshop at U of I! Topic of course is what is on this site, so if you want more of me check out: MAASU. Or if you can't attend just wait a bit and yes I will tell you all about Iron Man! Wish me luck!

Thanks to a certain someone, who believed in me all the way and never gave up!