Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: New Superman #4

I am a bit behind in my reviews, just covering last week's New Super-Man #4 now. That is what happens when you release 4 super-comics in one week DC!

As I have said before, I have been enjoying this comic more than I ever thought I would. Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic are creating a fresh new universe, tangentially tied to the DCU enough to feel a little familiar but innovative enough to be completely new. So it is fun to see these Chinese analogues of familiar heroes, comparing and contrasting them to the more classic versions.

Moreover, Yang is really creating compelling characters here. Whether it is Kenan as the vulnerable bully or Deilan's naivete being challenged in the face of facts or Kenan's dad thinking optimistically while maybe being used ... they all are layered. I really don't know who the good guys are in this book. I don't think Dr. Omen is all she claims to be. But the Freedom Fighters don't look like noble rebels either. Maybe there is goodness in these organizations but it isn't pure.

Bogdanovic continues to bring a stylized, grainy roughness to this book which works well with the story.

So, no complaints right now! Onto the book ...

Last issue ended with the new Justice League battling the Freedom Fighters. Blue Condor seems to have New Super-Man on the ropes, asphyxiating him. But then Flying Dragon General saves Kenan.

One thing that is clear, these Freedom Fighters have no problem killing people. This is even more evident later on.

So Blue Condor is like Black Condor, so I guess the General is the equivalent of Uncle Sam? But why would he save Kenan unless he is more of a hero than his comrades.

In the end, Super-Man and the General have one last moment.

The General warns Kenan about associating with Omen. She is falsely imprisoning people. She is developing a secret weapon. The Ministry is corrupt. He extends his hand in hopes of an alliance aiming for Truth, Justice, and Democracy.

This is intriguing given the methods of the other Fighters. This General is different.

But Kenan isn't buying it and so the General escapes.

The other Leaguers have defeated Ghost Lady and Blue Condor and bring them to the Crab Shell prison.

Ghost Lady is the Phantom Lady equivalent.

Again, this isn't a state-sanctioned prison. This is Omen's.

I do love the continued harassment of Kenan by Wonder Woman and Batman. It would be what the JLA would be if it was Conner in place of Clark.

Back at the Ministry, Dr. Omen definitely chastises the team for leaving without orders to defend Dr. Zheng. Even if Ghost Lady and Blue Condor are captured, Omen has to spin. She will feed Laney Lan the story she wants to tell ... a lie that the Ministry is a government run task force.

Suddenly Deilan seems to be questioning of Omen's authority. There are lies here. What is real? What is the truth?

So the Ministry isn't 100% above board.

 Meanwhile, in prison, Ghost Lady regurgitates Folding Paper Man. And given his abilities, he is able to slip through the bars and murder the prison guards. This isn't a good man.

So I guess he is a version of Doll Man?

What a way to travel though ...

 As for Kenan, he continues to flirt with Laney. But he suddenly realizes that with great power comes great responsibility. His revealing his identity makes his father a target. Didn't he think of that??

I like this sudden realization. Of course Kenan didn't think of all the ramifications. He is a kid and he won't shy away from fame. He craves his 15 minutes of fame. Now he knows the ripples in the pond extend out and effect a lot of people.

Folding Paper Man is able to release all his comrades including the Human Firecracker (a version of the Human Bomb) as well as someone who looks like The Ray. I love the costume designs by Bogdanovic.

It turns out that the Ministry is harboring a mega-weapon. We saw it in the background last issue ... Starro!

But this Firecracker doesn't seem like a nice guy. He will use Starro as a weapon himself. He'll make an army. And what better way to promote democracy than to enslave everyone.

Certainly, these characters feel more like super-villains than heroes. It is hard to get behind their aspirations.

 Yang gives us a nice hook to end the issue.

Kenan heads home to check on his father and discovers that his father is, in fact, the General. I don't think that Kenan's father would like the means his allies are using to fight the Ministry. I think he is probably the idealist in the group.

And I suppose that Kenan is just learning to be a hero.

Maybe, the point here is that the two will secretly team up to reveal the corruption of both sides. But this definitely is an intriguing wrinkle.

Overall, a nice fast-paced issue pushing things forward while tweaking the characters enough to bring growth. So far, this is a surprisingly entertaining book.

Overall grade: B+


Jude Deluca said...

I just realized, with all this talk of how the JLC are western knockoffs and your comparison points with Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fights, I wonder if the Chinese Freedom Fighters will ever realize THEY are knockoffs too, just with less obvious names.

Anj said...

Good point! Maybe they don't know it.

To be honest, what is the status of the Freedom Fighters in the New 52/Rebirth world

Jude Deluca said...

RE: Freedom Fighters in the New 52/Rebirth world. A bunch of miniseries establishing new versions of the Fighters and a new version of Uncle Sam that amounted to absolutely nothing. Like my faith in DC.

Anj said...

We're those minis New 52? Or pre flashpoint?

Jude Deluca said...

New 52.