20 Asian DC Heroes to Help Ring in the Lunar New Year

Alex Jaffe

Alex Jaffe

Jan. 25, 2020


Gothamites better watch out for Otis Flannegan, because this weekend marks the beginning of the Year of the Rat. On January 25th, the Lunar Calendar recognized by over a billion people across the world turns upon the Spring Festival, celebrated by many Asian cultures as a time to renew, refresh, and reunite with family members beloved and estranged alike. In that spirit, this Spring Festival is the perfect time for members of our DC Universe family to reconnect with the Super Heroes who share these traditions, representing a vibrant, historic, and living culture with a strong sense of continuity dwarfing nearly all others in comparison. Because if there’s one thing that DC fans can understand and respect, it’s continuity.






First Appearance: Wonder Woman #179, 1968


Recommended Reading: New Super-Man (2016)


When Wonder Woman lost her powers and her heritage in the 1960s to walk the Earth as a mere mortal, Diana (formerly) of Themyscira found guidance of spirit and purpose in the mentorship of a martial arts master by the name of I-Ching: named for the ancient Chinese text of divination. Over the years, I-Ching has served as a mentor to Batman and his family as well, in their struggle against the machinations of Ra’s al Ghul — and most recently, as a guide to China’s own nascent Super-Man, where his true nature was finally revealed… stretching all the way back to the very beginning of DC history.






First Appearance: Millennium #2, 1988


Recommended Reading: Green Lantern (2005) #10-17


Xiang Po is often considered to be DC’s first proper Chinese “Super Hero,” having first been introduced as a member of the New Guardians in 1988’s “Millennium” event. After the New Guardians’ dissolution, Gloss went on to represent China in the Global Guardians, once the premiere international Super Hero team of the DC Universe. With the ability to draw power directly from the Earth’s mystical ley lines, Gloss exhibited super strength and durability, flight, terrakinesis, and healing abilities.







First Appearance: Young All-Stars #22, 1989


Recommended Reading: Young All-Stars #22-27


Kuei is China’s own counterpart to the Demon Etrigan, a former soldier of the Imperial Army who was bound to a terrifying demon. Kuei was most active during World War II, where he assisted the Young All-Stars against the Axis powers’ metahuman forces.







First Appearance: Legion of Super-Heroes #33, 1992


Recommended Reading: Legionnaires (1993)


With a formidably sized leading cast, the Legion of Super-Heroes has always been on the front line of diversity when it came to their human members. So it was that their first Chinese member, Xao Jin, joined their ranks from the Shanghai space colony in 1992. As a descendant of the Homo magi, Dragonmage was an adept scholar of the mystic arts. Always one for a bit of personal flair, Dragonmage’s spells tend to distinguish themselves with the conjuration of dragon-related imagery.






First Appearance: Primal Force #0, 1994


Recommended Reading: Birds of Prey (1999) #72-73


John Chan debuted as a member of Primal Force, a post-Zero Hour reimagining of the Global Guardians concept which had protected the Earth from occult threats for over 2,000 years. John himself was a modern update of another DC concept, ‘70s fantasy hero Claw the Unconquered. With a mystic sword and gauntlet permanently grafted onto one of his hands, the Claw of the 1990s stands ever-ready against potential Cataclysm.







First Appearance: Batman #567, 1999


Recommended Reading: Batgirl (2000)


Cassandra Cain was born to be a weapon. Instead, she chose to be a hero. The daughter of infamous assassins Lady Shiva and David Cain, Cassandra was raised to speak only one language -- violence. But after making her first kill as a child, Cassandra was so horrified by what she'd done that she swore off killing forever. Eventually, Cassandra found her way to Batman's tutelage, where she learned to put her skills to use for a more heroic, nonlethal cause. Though she's taken various codenames over the years, one constant has always remained: Cassandra Cain does not kill, but she does not lose.






First Appearance: DCU: Brave New World #1, 2006


Recommended Reading: The All-New Atom


As a research assistant to the illustrious Ray Palmer, Ryan Choi inherited his predecessor’s equipment which allowed him to shrink to subatomic size. But no matter how large or small he is, Ryan Choi always seems to get in over his head. During his tenure as The Atom, Ryan Choi has wrestled ancient gods, alien invasions, troubling dates with Super-Villains, and endless college papers to grade.






First Appearance: 52 #6, 2006


Recommended Reading: The Great Ten (2009)


While China had always had representation in DC’s international alliances, it was quite some time before they had a Super Hero team of their own. That changed in 2006, with the arrival of the Great Ten: China’s first answer to the Justice League of America. Led by the super-durable August General in Iron, the Great Ten’s ranks included the sound-manipulating Accomplished Perfect Physician, the mystic bow-wielding Celestial Archer, the death touch of Ghost Fox Killer, the disciplined Shaolin Robot, and many more. Well, five more.






First Appearance: Checkmate #2, 2006


Recommended Reading: Checkmate (2006)


Shen Li Po was the King’s Black Bishop, one of four spymasters on the Checkmate board assigned to oversee the organization’s vast intelligence network. When Checkmate was reformed in the wake of Infinite Crisis and 52 to address international concerns, Shen Li Po was placed to represent the interests of the Chinese government. Though he performed in this role admirably, he was eventually replaced in the organization by the Great Ten’s own August General in Iron.





First Appearance: Birds of Prey #92, 2006


Recommended Reading: Black Canary (2007)


After Cassandra Cain’s failure to follow in the bloody footsteps of her mother, the village which trained Lady Shiva attempted to produce a new heir to their violent throne: a girl known only as Sin, branded by that name for the simple crime of being born. When Black Canary traveled to that village to rediscover herself, she brought Sin back with her, with the intent to raise her as her own child. Of course, that wasn’t what the League of Assassins had in mind for the newly renamed Cynthia Lance. But Dinah wasn’t about to let them have her daughter.






First Appearance: Legion of Super-Heroes #1, 2010


Recommended Reading: Legion of Super-Heroes (2010)


Harmonia Li was once a gifted, immortal resident of the hidden world of Utopia, ruled by a figure who may or may not be the actual historical Confucius. Known for her sense of caution as well as her powers over the elements of earth and air, Harmonia’s cool head was always an asset to the Legion.






First Appearance: All-Star Western #4, 2011


Recommended Reading: All-Star Western (2011)


One of the most painful symbols of the Asian-American history and experience as ciphered through the DC Universe, Yanmei Tsei represents the reprehensible conditions that early Chinese immigrants to America were subject to after seeking refuge from the troubled conditions of their homeland. Finding that the horrors of 19th century China and the US were not so different after all for a lowborn Chinese family, Yanmei adopted the persona of the Barbary Ghost to seek the justice so brutally denied to her hard working father. As the Barbary Ghost stalked the streets of San Francisco, cruel men who had learned hatred and racism would also learn fear.






First Appearance: Flashpoint #1, 2011


Recommended Reading: Shazam! (2018)


A relative newcomer to the extended Shazam! Family, Eugene Choi is a hardcore gamer and one of Billy Batson’s new foster brothers in the Vasquez home. After Billy shared the powers of Shazam with his brothers and sisters, each discovered they had a particular specialty which set them apart. Eugene’s affinity for technology granted him an enhanced control over the electrokinetic portion of the Shazam suite of powers, making him the go-to Mighty Mortal when a zap can use some finesse.






First Appearance: Earth 2 #2, 2012


Recommended Reading: Earth 2: World’s End


Sam Zhao was introduced in the Earth 2 series as the fiancé of Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of their neighboring Earth to the DC Universe. Then, he was immediately killed in a train crash. Zhao’s sudden, tragic loss was a pivotal incident in Alan Scott’s heroic journey, but he was later found to be not quite so dead after all: rather, Zhao had found himself transformed into the Elemental Avatar of The White, championing the air itself. In World’s End, Sam and Alan stand together against a cataclysm which could mean the end of their very existence.






First Appearance/Recommended Reading: Ame-Comi Girls (2012)


Jade Yifei, the Green Lantern of the “Ame-Comi Girls” Universe, draws traits from both Jade of Infinity Inc. and, calling upon Eastern stories of blind warriors, the sightless Green Lantern of Rot Lop Fan. As a blind woman, Jade Yifei uses her Green Lantern to experience the universe in ways that the sighted could hardly imagine, and uses that perspective for a unique insight against the threats to her world.






First Appearance: Harley Quinn #15, 2015


Recommended Reading: Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys


Like all members of Harley Quinn’s “Gang of Harleys,” Erica Zhang is one part of a team representing the wide spectrum of diversity which makes New York the greatest city in the world [citation needed][editor's note: I got your citation right here, buddy]. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants to the United States, Erica is used to being part of something bigger than herself, but longed for a place where she could also stand out as her own person. And there’s no better place to be a weirdo than the company of Harley Quinn.






First Appearance: New Super-Man #1, 2016


Recommended Reading: New Super-Man


When we first meet Kenan Kong in New Super-Man #1, he’s the opposite of everything Superman should be. A bully, An egotist. A young man with little if any concern for the feelings or problems of the people around him. But when given the opportunity to be something more, Kenan shows that even the people you’ve written off as lost causes are capable of great change. Kenan’s journey from Man to Super-Man is one you don’t want to miss.






First Appearance: New Super-Man #1, 2016


Recommended Reading: New Super-Man


Baixi Wang certainly isn’t the kind of person who comes to mind when you think of Batman. He’s a soft, pudgy, sensitive cuddly bear. But he’s also the sharpest and most dedicated guy you’ll ever meet, truly internalizing everything it truly means to be Batman, and what that symbol represents. It’s been said that part of the appeal of Batman over Super-Man is that, in theory, anyone could be Batman. It’s Baixi who puts that idea to the test.






First Appearance: New Super-Man #1, 2016


Recommended Reading: New Super-Man


As the Wonder Woman of the classic Justice League draws upon ancient Greek mythology, Deilan Peng’s origins can be traced back to the ancient Chinese. The DC Universe has always been a place where the traditions of all global cultures can find representation. And when establishing the Justice League of China, it’s through Wonder-Woman that Buddhist folklore comes to life: specifically the Legend of the White Snake, dating back to the Ming dynasty. Some people have claimed that the Super Heroes of today are the legacy of the cultural folk tales which date back to the foundation of humanity itself. If so, then in the true spirit of the Chinese Spring Festival, it’s characters like the Wonder-Woman of China who carry those foundations with a clear through line to the modern age.






First Appearance: The Flash #3, 2016


Recommended Reading: The Flash (2016)


Avery Ho has the distinction of being among the most visible Chinese-American characters in the DC Universe today. Introduced early in Josh Williamson’s Rebirth run on the Flash, and then finding a home in New Super-Man alongside Kenan, Baixi, and Deilan, Avery Ho currently fights by Barry Allen’s side against the imbalance of the Speed Force and the rise of old Rogues armed with new powers. Don’t call her Kid Flash, or Impulse, or any other second string of sidekick names. As one of the most prominent speedsters of the modern age, Avery Ho is simply The Flash: the fastest woman alive.


Which one of these heroes would be the most fun to ring in Lunar New Year with? Talk about it in our Community!