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Ahhh…the first official Superhero book after Kids Book Week. Good to see you, DC!
Title: New Super-Man
Author(s): Gene Luen Yang, Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend
Publisher: DC Comics (2017)
Age Rating: 13+
For those of you familiar with Gene Luen Yang from his work American Born Chinese, unless you knew going in, you’d have no idea that this book was written by him. Actually, it’s quite the opposite of the younger books that he has written. I would argue that this trade flies at the speed of light compared to pacing of ABC, Level Up, or Boxer & Saints. Maybe it’s the fact that he doesn’t have to worry about the art with the masterful art/inking pair of Bogdanovic and Friend; maybe it’s because he doesn’t have the restraints of a predominately younger audience. But while it moves quickly, and there is a ton of story and too many characters to count in this six-issue trade, Yang’s writing never feels rushed or overwhelming.
The art and colors are just want you’d expect from a DC hero book, but the page/panel layouts are unique. I feel that they help in the digestion of Yang’s fast-paced script. If the panels were typical, we might become overwhelmed with story, but by changing up the structure from page to page, Bogdanovic gets the visual assist.
The book is set in China, and high school student Kong Kenan lives with his father after his mother mysteriously died in an airplane accident. He gets abducted by a secret agency and given the powers of Super-Man and gets teamed up with a Chinese Bat-Man and Wonder Woman (who don’t care much for Kenan) to start The Justice League of China. But there are many twists and turns as character, corporation, and governmental organization motivations are revealed…and these three square off against at least ten different heroes/villains from at least two different super groups, and we are left to wonder what is going on for the majority of the six issues. Don’t worry, it ties up nicely with a couple open windows to get us into the next trade or issue.
It’s interesting to see a cultural take on an American classic; although, it doesn’t read much differently than an American hero book. I guess it’s not supposed to, and I also have to assume that the hero culture in other countries is not much different. Even in the hero Manga that I’ve read (which is my only other cultural hero comic experience), the heroes are not greatly differing from what we find coming out of DC or Marvel. Trends have been set. This book is a breath of fresh air for DC fans looking to explore another side of the DC universe.
That last sentence above would be my “back of the book quotation,” DC. Keep me in mind for future blurbs.
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