The less-super powers of Marvel comic books

There were no video games or Internet or even cable in 1956, but there was “Yellow Claw” — and for a comic book, it did a pretty impressive job of feeding kids harmful misinformation. Known on his off hours as Plan Chu, Yellow Claw was a Marvel supervillain who sought to take down Captain America with a combination of magic, martial arts and communism.

The series is one of many comic books and graphic novels included in the Asian Arts Initiative’s new exhibit, “Marvels & Monsters.” Assembled from the collections of science fiction author William F. Wu, the show includes images from 1942 through 1986 that reflect historical tensions and stereotypes of Asian Americans.

“No matter how far we think we’ve come, we have to remember to be critical of images,” says Nancy Chen, program assistant and local exhibition coordinator at AAI. “We don’t want to provide answers, but by providing a dialogue we wanted to invite the community to look at the past and present.”

If you go

“Marvels & Monsters” opens with a reception on Friday (6-8 p.m.) at the Asian Arts Initiative (1219 Vine St.). Programming includes a free, four-part comic book workshop for those in grades 7 through 12. Call 215-557-0455 for more info and to register.

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