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Friday, May 14, 2021

Asians Are Supporting Characters Too

If you visited your Local Comic Shop this week, you might have picked up a copy of the DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Celebration #1 like I did. The title is an accurate representation of what's inside the book, and I enjoyed the much-deserved spotlight on characters who too rarely get their share of the accolades.

If I had any problem with the book, it was only that it was too short. DC Comics has several other notable Asian characters worthy of more attention, characters like August General in Iron, Rising Sun, Maya, Doctor Light, and the head of Research and Design for Booster Gold International, Dr. Jack Soo.

© DC Comics

In the spirit of further celebration of the contribution of Asian characters to the DC Universe, what follows is a post about Soo's trailblazing contribution to the cast of Booster Gold Volume 1 in the 1980s, previously published on the Boosterrific blog in 2015:


The True Story of Booster Gold

It cannot be denied that the original cast of Booster Gold was pale. Michael Carter was white. Trixie Collins was white. Dirk Davis was white. About the only characters in the first six issues who weren't white were Booster's orange cats, Jack and Jill. (Hey, it's not Booster's fault that Metropolis was settled almost exclusively by Western Europeans and Kryptonians.)

The eventual introduction of supporting cast member Dr. Jack Soo in Booster Gold #7 finally provided an injection of some much needed color.

© DC Comics

Jack Soo was the best young inventor at Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories (aka S.T.A.R. Labs) when he was hired to create a new female super suit for Goldstar, Inc. He delivered on his reputation and earned his place in Booster Gold's supporting cast.

While Soo's specific heritage is never addressed, his tan skin, dark hair, and narrow eyes indicate Asian ethnicity. "Soo" also happens to be a Westernization of the fairly common Chinese surname "Su."

Of course, it's hard not to notice the sudden appearance of an ethnic minority in a comic full of white characters. But was Asian the right race for Booster Gold's first new supporting character? I mean, isn't "Asian scientist" a little cliched?

As always, I turned to creator Dan Jurgens for the answer.

Yes, we realized that we need to have a more diverse cast.

I would also add that "Asian scientist" might seem a bit stereotypical now, but it certainly wasn't 30 years ago.

Jurgens has a point there. While ethnic Asians make up almost 15% of all modern science, technology, engineering, and technology jobs in America today (second in percentage only to — you guessed it — whites), that number was closer to 5% in 1980 according to census.gov.


We haven't seen Jack since Booster Gold #22 (1987). I assume that's because he's been hard at work in his lab creating new wonders. Thanks for all your hard work, Dr. Soo.

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