Both series feature protagonists with similar outlooks on life—ironic, practical and uninterested in the showy, flamboyant side of superhero existence. June expresses her disgust at how the masked marvels ignore her working-class neighborhood when they don't need their capes cleaned; Val wants to fit in with the "regular" kids, resisting her parents' supernormal expectations. (Similar themes are explored in the "Ordinary Heroes" section of this book.) At the end of the day, however, both find themselves putting family first—a common theme in Asian American culture. Among the issues invoked by these two stories: The social and economic divides that separate residents of ethnic enclaves from the urban "mainstream," and which can lead to civic isolation; the often overwhelming pressure placed by immigrant parents on their children to succeed and embrace certain career paths; and the desire by young Asian Americans (perhaps particularly women) to fit in with their peers, which may place them at odds with cultural traditions.


Discussion Questions

  1. 1.In "Sampler," June Park lives in a largely immigrant Korean neighborhood in her city, and complains that superheroes don't take crime in her neighborhood seriously. What are some of the reasons that ethnic neighborhoods may receive a lower level of law enforcement? What are some of the other issues faced by residents of ethnic enclaves?

  2. 2.In "CostumeCo," Val's parents want her to grow up to be a superhero. What are some of the professions that Asian immigrant parents tend to prefer for their children, and why?

  3. 3.What are some of the ways the children of immigrants might find themselves different from their peers? What might they do to try to be "just like everyone else"?

UNDER PRESSURE


1. June discusses her frustrations in "Sampler"

2. Val deals with her own issues in "CostumeCo"

Sampler, pg. 107           A Day at CostumeCo, pg. 119

Story by: Jimmy J. Aquino         Story by: Jimmy J. Aquino

Art by: Erwin Haya                      Art by: Erwin Haya


In "Sampler," June Park is a spunky, no-nonsense young woman who works with her brother at the family business. But this isn’t an ordinary laundromat: Park Cleaners services the "special needs" of the local superhero community, e.g., by removing alien stains from nanotech-infused Lycra. When a couple of thugs try to rob the store late one night (seeking costumes to sell online to souvenir-hungry fans), June discovers her innate ability to "sample" the residual superpowers of others, left behind on personal items like clothing. 


In "A Day at CostumeCo," a girl named Val who's struggling to be "normal" despite being surrounded by superpowered family and friends is dragged by her mother to a shopping expedition at the local big-box store outfitter for heroes, CostumeCo. Despite her dreams of being ordinary, Val begrudgingly overcomes her embarrassment and accepts her destiny as a heroine in order to save the ones she loves.