July 18, 2024

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Comic Review: DC Rebirth New Super-Man Volume 1

China creates its own Super-Man from what looks like the worst possible candidate in this DC Rebirth title.

Most of the books DC brought out after Rebirth started have focused on classic or longtime characters.

But there is at least one brand new character:  the new Super-Man.

Yes, Jimmy, the hyphen is important.

Birth of a hero?

Kong Kenan is 17 years old, self-centered, cocky, and something of a bully living in Shanghai.  His favorite target is the overweight son of the CEO of an airline.  Kenan’s mom died when a flight from that company crashed, and he’s been living with his distant auto mechanic father ever since.  One day, after stealing his target’s soda, he finds the kid being swiped off the street by a notorious Chinese supervillain, and though his impulse is to run, instead Kenan tosses the soda at the bad guy, his classmate is released, and due to some nearby bystanders getting the whole thing on video, Kenan is soon a social media celebrity.  That leads to his recruitment by one Dr. Omen, who works for the Ministry of Self-Reliance.

That would be the secret government (0r not) agency that Kenan’s father’s mysterious writer’s group has been trying to prove the existence of for years.

As it is, Dr. Omen is offering Kenan a chance to become a Chinese Super-Man.  Her choice seems weird.  Kenan’s narration makes it clear he is about as un-Supermanish as it is possible to get without being a supervillain.  Kenan is the guy who doesn’t follow instructions, gives out his secret identity on live TV in an effort to impress a TV reporter, and doesn’t get along with his new teammates on the Justice League of China, Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man.

It also doesn’t help that Kenan’s powers seem to cut in and out seemingly at random.

This wasn’t a bad start.  American Born Chinese creator Gene Luen Yang has crafted a good set-up.  I’m not sure how “Chinese” the book is, but Yang is making efforts to include every Chinese character from DC’s long history, starting with the relatively recent Chinese superteam the Great Ten as the more-established rivals for Kenan and his two teammates on the Justice League of China.  Dr. Omen’s reasoning for choosing Kenan may become clear with the last page, but in the meantime, Kenan finds himself and the rest of the JLC squaring off against the Freedom Fighters of China.

Now if only Kenan’s nickname from the other two wasn’t “dummy”.

Let’s say seven and a half homework reminders out of ten.  I’m actually intrigued enough to try another trade when it comes out, but for now, it seems a little crowded while still in the set-up phase.