Superman is gone…  Now, a new Super-Man rises to take his place.  Your Major Spoilers review of New Super-Man #1 awaits!

NewSuper-Man1CoverjNEW SUPER-MAN #1
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Penciler: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inker:  Richard Friend
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Paul Kaminsky
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in New Super-Man: Superman has fallen in battle, destroyed by the forces that power him thanks to a number of traumatic super-powered experiences.  But thanks to a mysterious laboratory, there’s a brash young contender for the name in town…

Y’know, this sounds kind of familiar.

Hey, if Mongul shows up and nukes Coast City, I’m out, okay?

MADE IN CHINA

The first words in this issue immediately endear the main character to me, explaining that only three people in the history of China are more important than him…  Four if you count Confucius.  It’s a pitch-perfect bit of narration that makes is clear what Kenan Kong is all about, leading us into a more difficult part of the story, watching him bully one of his classmates.  Worse still, he chases the kid right into the arms of Blue Condor, Shanghai’s newest (in fact, one of their first) super-villains.  Kenan reacts almost by instinct, driving the bad guy off with a soda to the face, and making himself a viral sensation, thanks to intrepid reporter Laney Lan, who records the whole thing.  Things quickly spiral out of control from there: Kenan’s father is unhappy with him because he knows about the bullying, Laney’s not interested in his teenage come-ons…  Oh, and a mysterious woman arrives, claiming to represent the secretive Bureau Of Self-Reliance.

A SPIRITED YOUNG CHARACTER

There’s a lot of heavy lifting in a first-issue, first-appearance AND origin, especially in a setting so far removed from the Gothams and Metropolises of DC’s usual books.  Still, the creative team is up to the task, delivering a lot of information effectively, thanks to Yang’s dialogue and Bogdanovic’s strong linework.  The art is really lovely (including New Super-Man’s costume design), with clean storytelling and touches that remind me of Jim Lee and Scott Kolins at different points, and best of all, very expressive faces throughout the issue.  The last page-reveal of China’s own Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman is a moment that’s both funny in-context and full of potential, making me wonder what’s in store for our new young hero.

THE BOTTOM LINE: LIKEABLE AND WELL-DONE

The idea behind this comic is a simple one, but one that makes for an interesting parallel to the New 52 a few years ago.  This is a more hopeful story than we got from 2011 DCU (but then, the majority of Rebirth has been, to my utter delight) but one that sets itself apart in tone and location, feeling very much like some of the youthful heroes of recent Marvel comics, in all the right ways.  New Super-Man #1 may be a bit confusingly titled, but launches our new hero well, making me hope that we get more than 12 issues out of Kenan’s adventures, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Now I’m wondering about how they’re gonna hyphenate The Flash…

Superman is gone...  Now, a new Super-Man rises to take his place.  Your Major Spoilers review of New Super-Man #1 awaits! NEW SUPER-MAN #1 Writer: Gene Luen Yang Penciler: Viktor Bogdanovic Inker:  Richard Friend Colorist: Hi-Fi Letterer: Dave Sharpe Editor: Paul Kaminsky Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: $2.99 Previously in New Super-Man: Superman has fallen in battle, destroyed by the forces that power him thanks to a number of traumatic super-powered experiences.  But thanks to a mysterious laboratory, there's a brash young contender for the name in town... Y'know, this sounds kind of familiar. Hey, if Mongul shows up and…
Well-written, well-drawn teenage superhero stuff, with enough twists to make things intriguing...

NEW SUPER-MAN #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

Well-written, well-drawn teenage superhero stuff, with enough twists to make things intriguing...

User Rating: 3.95 ( 1 votes)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. Leo
    July 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    I am Chinese and I hope this is an interesting perspective to you.
    When I heard about this “Chinese Superman” idea, I was immediately skeptical.
    My main concern was if the story is set in contemporary time, i.e., my country is still ruled by one party dictatorship, where the most dangerous thing to our vulnerable population–those who need the most and imminent help from superhero(s)–is still the insecurity and hot temper of a patriarchal, paternalistic, tight-control-over-press&dissent government. I mean we have some bizarre crime stuff but mostly the Party handled “security” and “stability” pretty well by itself with certain sacrifice on the liberty side.
    Many people have pointed out that in certain stories, Batman’s way of fighting crimes is paternalistic and ineffective, Frank Millers Dark Knight sometimes lean towards that. Scott Snyder’s #44 dealt with the balance between brutality and compassion, which I really appreciated.
    That was America’s hero.
    When the superheros show up in my country, what do they do? What aspect of our world needs change? What actually warrants a Superman’s existence in China? Will this be a Red Son again? And will the heroes in this book look into our system’s flaws?
    I was wondering how the setting would be: what kind of era will he be in, what kind of political system will he deal with, and whether Gene Luen Yang “actually” actually understands China.

    With those biases in mind, I found a lot of things to dislike. Of course, at first, the writing wants us to dislike this pompous jerk. He’s a bully, he’s a self-centered “直男癌” which was reflected by the fact that he objectifies women… and he is so vain. We later learn that maybe there is more to him, but his behavior and personality is not the only thing that made me frown.

    “The First Emperor, Chairman Mao, and Yao Ming. Maybe Confucius…” This list made me cringe a little. Make no mistake, these are very very important figures, our mandatory exams test us on what the First Emperor said or did after he united the 6 kingdoms more than 2200 years ago (there were no dragons or ice zombies or vagina smoke monsters). Everybody memorized what philosophy he adopted, what type of coins and measurement units he standardized, etc., they also test us on why Chairman Mao and the Communist Party under HIS leadership and direction was the only conceivable savior of the Chinese people back then: there is only one reason, one interpretation, don’t you dare write anything different or interesting in your exams. Even Yao was very influential to my interest at Basketball. But I doubt many people will rank “important Chinese people in history” like this. It’s like a list of “Most Important People in Chinese History that Americans Might Come Up With” or “Most Important Chinese People that Americans Have Heard Of.” Deng Xiaoping would’ve been a better substitute for Mao on that list, but most American readers never heard of him… So, is this high schooler not only a bully, but also brain-washed and uninformed? If he is, this is not necessarily a negative thing, I hope this aspect can be explored.

    And then there is this Ministry of Self-reliance, according to Kenan, “some secret government agency” doing really evil stuff. First of all, almost everything our government does can easily be maintained a secret if it wants it concealed. Journalists or activists “disappearing” right around the time they uncover shit happens so often it’s almost the equivalence of your senseless shooting incidents, only people don’t react to it as much, and if you make big noise or if you associate, you’re the next. You don’t “publish” what you write. Nobody dares to publish government conspiracy books in China… You can post the thing on social media and wait for it to get pulled off and then people with uniforms will come at your door with batons and no warrants.
    The writers’ group is some kind of association trying to uncover some secret government stuff, in China it would’ve been dissembled, its members sent to labor camp or prison. Meeting every week for five years? I don’t think so.

    And big airline CEO does not phone the father of a jerk who bullies his son every day to make lawsuit threats. The CEO either is a good man who tries to make good with Kenan’s family, compensates them for their loss, mentors the kid to help him deal with his rage and grief or simply tells his son to just endure the bullying, (which judging from the lawsuit threats, is not the case), or he is indifferent to the fact that Kenan’s mother died in their flight and he should’ve already asked his government acquaintances to “talk to” Kenan’s father, expel Kenan from that school, or even maybe remove them right out of Shanghai. Poor people don’t get lawsuit threats from rich people, they get trampled on in a technically illegal but “why do you piss off the rich and powerful in the first place you deserve it” way.

    I’m not reading a story in China. I don’t know who the writer is speaking to, or what he is trying to represent.

    I know my perspective is unique. I was born and raised in China. So I don’t aim to tell you you’re wrong or stupid for liking it. I just couldn’t conquer my own bias.

    Maybe Kenan will grow intellectually. Maybe the writer’s group will run into trouble with the government. Maybe the CEO is more complex.

    Reading this issue did not completely turn me off. I have more questions now and I hope the things I picked out can be addressed or will mean something to the theme of the story in a substantive way later.

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