The Aqua-Man of North Korea has risen, and he has a bone to pick with… Well, everybody! Can even New Super-Man and his team overcome a literal tidal wave? Your Major Spoilers review of New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #23 awaits!
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Penciler: Brent Peeples
Inker: Matt Santorelli
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 9, 2018
Previously in New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China: New Super-Man is trying to balance his role as the greatest hero in China with his duties to his team and a burgeoning romance with Avery Ho, The Flash. That just got infinitely harder, since The Dragonson has risen, and is ready to use the power of the sea itself to batter North Korea into submission and his own powers are seemingly betraying him…
A SEA CHANGE
Every few years, somebody makes a serious run at creating a “new Spider-Man”, which is to say that they want a young, impulsive hero who learns as she goes and makes mistakes in so doing, making her a better hero. It’s how we got Nova, how we got Speedball, and I think that New Super-Man is the most successful attempt in recent memory. This issue opens with The Dragonson aka Korean Aqua-Man, flooding North Korea under the mystic influence of his father, while New Super-Man finds himself trapped in his All-Yang state. While Dragonson struggles not to murder thousands of innocents, including his family, Kenan nearly attacks his own partner, The Flash, when she tries to stop him. Realizing that, if he can go All-Yang, he can also go All-Yin, Kenan manages to hold off the attack Green Lanterns of China, while Dragonson/Aqua-Man comes up with a brilliant trick to avoid being taken into custody. At the end of the issue, New Super-Man convenes with his deceased master, I-Ching, and vows to use his new Yin powers to find I-Ching in the realm of ghosts…
A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT
The best bit of this issue for me is actually the charming alternate cover, featuring Kenan and Bat-Man singing karaoke, accompanied by most of DC’s Asian characters, even bringing back the likes of Dr. Light II, Grace from the Outsiders and Mr. Unknown, drawn by Bernard Chang. I enjoy Brent Peeples art, but it’s not quite as graceful to my eye. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it really conveys the message that our heroes are young, but there is a scratchiness to the overall art that I feel doesn’t really mesh with the tone. This issue also reveals Bat-Man’s little sister, a masked vigilante known as Alpaca, who is both terrifying and kind of hilarious, leading to him making a deal with her now that he’s no longer working for the government. This story advances plots both personal and macro-scale and makes it clear that even the smartest man in China is capable of making bad decisions in desperate times, which I enjoy greatly. (I’d enjoy it more if prime Batman occasionally made more quantifiable mistakes as well, but you can’t always get what you want.)
BOTTOM LINE: STILL CHARMING AND WELL-WRITTEN
In short, it’s another solid issue that gives us a view into a part of the DC Universe that usually gets ignored, using China and it’s mythology as the backdrop for a really good coming-of-age superhero story. New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #23 comes soon after the announcement of the book’s upcoming final issue, but doesn’t suffer for it, delivering interesting characters and story with art that isn’t quite to my liking but still gets the job done, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m hoping that the end of this book won’t mean the end of these characters, but… Anybody heard from The Young Heroes or Major Bummer lately?