Story: Gene Luen Yang
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
What They Say:
“MADE IN CHINA” part five! The revelations keep coming! Kong Kenan has learned the disturbing truth about the Chinese Freedom Fighters, and his next move could make or break his entire country! Meanwhile, the noticeably insane Human Firecracker unleashes the might of his secret weapon. Two words: Starro. Bomb.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
New Super-Man has been a fun title for the most part, though I’ve struggled some with its pacing and the general structure of how it’s unfolding with its opening arc. The “Kenan Problem” has been in the forefront of the series and that takes a welcome backseat this time around as get some establishing material and a potential relationship shift that could make for an engaging twist depending on how it goes. Gene Luen Yang has come across as thoroughly enjoying what he’s doing here and that’s infectious in how things are presented, especially as Kenan gets into it all more himself, and Bogdanovic continues to deliver some really wonderfully dynamic scenes but also conveys the simpler and less exciting material in a strong way. It’s hard to make sitting around and talking come across well but he nails it properly here.
One of the defining elements of many heroes is that of their family side and that’s no exception here. Revealing that Kenan’s father is one of the Freedom Fighters of China definitely was something that threw him for a loop and I appreciate that this issue actually deals with it by sitting down to talk rather than quips and flashbacks mid-fight. His father delves into it pretty well to show how he ended up in certain political circles as a college student and met Kenan’s mother, but we also see how the arrival of superheroes in the West changed their views of things. Though his father is wary, it’s wonderful to see how Kenan’s mother became the first Chinese superhero and ran with it – until she was killed by the government. It’s a familiar piece in a lot of ways but the team executes it really well here to raise the curtain on the bigger world that Kenan is stepping into.
The problem, of course, is that this splits Kenan’s allegiances at a time when his father’s comrades are getting ready to cause a whole lot of chaos – and hurt his friends as well. The family side expands in a fun way here with Kenan’s uncle in the mix as one of the Fighters as well and throwing Baixi and Deilan into it makes it even more complicated. I did love that we get Kenan going with his dad because he sees a chance to really connect with him here but he also realizes along the way that the Fighters have such strong ideals – something he’s really not familiar with himself – that he’s not quite sure he can fit in. Kenan’s in such a weird place even if the general concept is traditional that it’s hard to tell where he’s really going to end up considering what we learn of the Ministry during all of the exposition here.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of New Super-Man overall as it has a lot of things I like but the execution is still kind of weird since it has so much it wants to do. This issue helps establish more backstory that readers need for Kenan’s story and lineage, which explains certain things while opening up more intrigue. This issue spends its time in that area well enough while leaving it open to “a certain point of view” kind of thing since it’s coming from Kenan’s father and I’m curious to see how Kenan’s going to roll with it all, especially in the face of so many new things revealed here, with the ministry, Omen, and the apparent use of genetically modified Starro’s. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: November 9th, 2016