New Super-Man is another one of those comics I enjoyed in floppies but was pretty sure I’d like better in trade. I liked the single issues that I read (#1-3), but I felt like there were larger narrative threads that I missed reading the title month-to-monthTurns out, I was right.
Gene Yang’s New Super-Man leans into Silver Age Superman’s-A-Jerk traditions as he introduces Kong Kenan. Kong stands up to one of China’s new, costumed supervillains and finds himself on the receiving end of a government cabal’s program to create a Chinese Superman. From there, he trains and goes on missions with Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman and clashes with the Flying Dragon General. All while disappointing his father.
While the Silver Age influence is fun, what really stands out in New Super-Man is the characters’ complicated morality. Characters do the right things for the wrong reasons and the wrong things for the right reasons. As relationships with each other flesh out, characters priorities and motivations change. Yang fits a lot of well-paced reversals into just six issues; not only does each feel earned, but if you pay attention, you can see how he seeds some of the larger reveals issues ahead.
With art from Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend, and Hi-Fi, New Super-Man trends toward bright, fun bombast. It is very much in line with the Silver Age influences without feeling dated. Bovadanovic’s pencils play an important role in laying clues early in the arc for twists that come later; that requires a careful attention to detail. And it’s absolutely worth it to pay attention to those details.
If you passed on New Super-Man in single issues, either because you just weren’t sure about it or because you felt like something was missing, you should check out this first volume. It’s full of character work and relationship building, and it includes some of the best work quickly establishing family and origin story that I have read in a while.
- New Super-Man, Vol. 1: Made in China
Writer: Gene Luen Yang | Penciller: Viktor Bogdanovic | Inker: Richard Friend | Colorist: Hi-Fi | Letterer: Dave Sharpe