New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China collects issues #1-6 of New Super-Man. The volume is written by New York Times best-selling author and National Book Award nominee Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Viktor Bogdanovic.
The Story (a.ka. From the Publisher)
An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. As the government creates their own Superman, will they live to regret the person they’ve chosen? Rising from the ashes of SUPERMAN: THE FINAL DAYS OF SUPERMAN and the death of the Man of Steel, will this New Super-Man step up to the challenge, or be crushed under the weight of his hubris and inexperience?
The DC Universe’s Shanghai is not unlike Metropolis or Gotham. Super villains equal super problems. The only difference is there is no Superman or Batman.
Actually . . . . . .
A secret government agency, led by Dr. Omen, is equipping and empowering every day people to be China’s version of the Justice League. This team has already transformed everyday citizens into Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man. Dr. Omen has now decided that the teenager Kong Kenan is perfect to become China’s Super-Man.
Kenan is introduced as a bit of a bully. He threatens a shorter, chubbier student with physical violence if he doesn’t give Kenan his soda. It turns out that the bullied student is the son of a wealthy family. Kenan holds a grudge against the family for the cause of his mother’s death.
So it is clear, Kong Kenan is no Clark Kent (he might actually be more Tony Stark). He is an adolescent who is searching for purpose and meaning in his life. As the story progresses, he grows, and is not the same person at the end of the volume as he is at the beginning.
One of the themes in this graphic novel is brokenness. Kenan’s family is broken due to the death of his mother, but also because his father dedicates himself to fighting the secret government agency that he believes is to blame for his wife’s death. Kenan loses both parents, and any sense of family.
When he is scooped up by Dr. Omen to become Super-Man, he is thrilled. This, along with the attention he received after scaring off a super villain, gives him a sense of purpose that he has been longing for. Dr. Omen provides him the place to end his search for passion and purpose.
But this is not something he can do alone.
Just as the Apostle Paul advises the local church to work together as the Body of Christ, Kenan develops an appreciation for team work. By partnering with Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man, an unlikely team is formed. It is rocky at first, but they learn to value each other and their gifts. And Kenan discovers a newfound family.
The story is well written, with great characters that you will want to invest in. The writing is humorous in all the right places, complete with sarcasm. The plot twist at the end is worth it. You won’t see it coming.
In addition, the New Super-Man series reconciles a wrong from 1937. Detective Comics number one featured a yellow faced villain named Ching Lung. Lung was a Chinese super genius designed to play on the fears of the American. The image is dehumanizing. In creating new superheroes, who are their own persons, and are not re-images of current characters, and who is Asian, not Asian-American, DC Comics sets out to correct this misstep.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.