As a writer, I know it’s impossible to give everyone everything they want in a character. But an irrational part of me felt pressure to accomplish this somehow, because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of that want.

As more and more Asian women—some longtime sisters-in-arms, some total strangers—told me how meaningful it was for them to see a book starring Asian American superheroes come into existence, I saw everything I’d always felt reflected back at me: the longing for representation, the need for characters who look like us, the hope that we’ll finally see ourselves in a way that’s centered, not stereotypical, and not Othered. I felt uncomfortable being on the other side of that hope for the first time. Because I still thought of myself as a sidekick, and people don’t look at sidekicks with hope.

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