New Super-Man #1
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Richard Friend & Viktor Bogdanovic
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 13th, 2016
Get ready to warm up to the next great man of steel, Kenan Kong the New Super-Man! This book does some great things in the wake of Rebirth. Kenan Kong is a bully who finds himself at throws with a real super villain of Shanghai, Blue Condor, who kidnaps high bounty targets. When the kid he bullies Lixin is captured by this super villain he takes it upon himself to throw the can of soda that he stole from Lixin (or Fat Boy) at the super villain himself, and lets the kid drop free. This gets a lot of attention and everyone wants to interview the kid who is now a real every day hero. Even Lixin ends up feeling in his debt as he saved his life. Kenan’s character gets real when we see how he reacts to these situations while he battles his own inner struggles of feeling upset that his mother is dead and earning the respect of his father. He also obviously lashes out at the public for his problems and the character is really interested as it makes him vulnerable to the next craziest part in this book. He is approached by a lady from a secret organization who offers him super powers in an experimental test at giving humans super powers. Kenan takes her up on that offer after being slightly reluctant to the whole approach but when he is brought to the facility and placed into the tank that changes people into super-beings, he has a moment of regret (dreaming his worst nightmare) before being transformed with tremendous power into Super-Man, the Chinese version of America’s Superman. With a surge of energy he flies into the sky breaking out of his transformation tank but soon enough we see some familiar costumes show up!
New Super-Man was a really great read and you can tell that the writer wanted to tell a story of how important the Superman mythos is around the world and show us how much the stories & symbols mean not only to American culture but Chinese culture as well. The book felt very much like a Grant Morrison take on a Multiversal Superman character, and within this first issue we warm up to the main character Kenan Kong in such an endearing way that although he is being a bully and is a flawed character, we still feel sorry for him for a few different reasons. The world in this issue is being built on a strong foundation within the DC Rebirth universe at the point where Superman is dead and this organization is trying to replicate that power & symbolism to inspire their country which is being devastated by Blue Condor and other looming threats. The book also has a lot of real moments like when Kenan goes to his father and while looking for praise, his father shoots him down and tells him that he was probably being a bully and happened to be in the same place at the same time for that reason exactly; doing something good even though he was there doing bad. His mother being deceased and his inner struggle to cope with that is a very tragic one that I’m sure we will learn that both him and his father are struggling to cope together.
The art was fantastic! It has a well done American-style graphic novel artwork and the backdrops of Shanghai were really well realized in this book. I loved the characters art, and the effective panel work in the book felt like Batman: The Animated Series in how tight and effective everything turned out. The colours were also really effective as everything felt bright and colour pallet choices for the costumed heroes and villains in this book were really cool, in particular the last page featuring the Chinese Justice League! This book was a great story and I really want to see where this book goes. I was a fan of Batman Incorporated and this feels like a well realized Superman Incorporated but for China. This book is 9/10 material and I am excited to see more from this series. Pick it up at your local comic shop today!
~ T.J Head
(Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman look so badass!)