New Super-Man #10 was a very entertaining issue, stuffing a lot of story and plots into the short 20 page comic. I have been pretty impressed with writer Gene Luen Yang on this book before this issue. He has been able to really get me invested and interested in these new characters.
But this issue gave us a lot to mull over. The main storyline of the Ox-Horse door rings and the portal to Hell comes to a satisfying close. But on top of that, we have more insight into Kenan's powers. We get a nudge in the plot of Dr. Omen and Kenan's father. And I Ching is at the center (or maybe centers) of some mysteries. And, perhaps best of all, it is linked to the Superman Reborn arc. Superman is there and extends a hand to the New Super-Man, a sort of welcoming into the Super-Family. That makes me happy.
The art is done by Viktor Bogdanovic and continues to have compelling visuals. Bogdanovic recently announced he's moving to Superman so this was a sort of teaser. But for me, this issue with hellish domains and giant guardians really sparkled.
Add to that all the usual cultural references of China and you have a very fresh feeling book.
On to the book.
The issue picks up where last issue ended. Kenan has been lured by Lex Luthor to the Ox-Horse doorway. The doors to Diyu have been opened by Kenan who temporarily got all his powers boosted. Then the main Superman arrived.
The scene is crazy but I love Kenan's thrill at seeing Superman again. There is this crazy, fanboy smile when he sees the Man of Steel. That makes perfect sense for this young boy just getting involved in the hero game. Who wouldn't be excited to see Superman. This might be my favorite panel of the book.
But the doors are wide open and an army of demons from Hell rush into the LexCorp facility.
I love I Ching's sort of understated acknowledgment of the whole thing.
If anyone can translate what they are saying, I'd love it!
Some demons grab Luthor and drag him into Diyu.
Remember, this is a young hero who is moving away from being the school bully and accept the responsibility of the Tri-Gram S-shield. He isn't perfect. So here, feeling burned by Luthor into opening this door, he simply allows Lex to be taken.
I Ching, the mentor trying to teach Kenan what is right and how to access his powers, runs after the demons to rescue Luthor. But before Kenan can join, the China White Triad slams the doors shut again.
I love the young hero trying to live up to expectations. So seeing this callous response by Kenan made sense and adds to his story.
Meanwhile, the Bat-Man and New Wonder Woman continue to investigate Dr. Omen and the Ministry of Self-Reliance. They discover the Flying Dragon General, Kenan's father presumed dead, alive in a healing tube. And there is Dr. Omen, watching them.
We saw her call the General her love. Perhaps Omen is Kenan's mother?? It has to be.
This is a nice subplot brewing.
Meanwhile, in Hell, the skeleton Superman we saw last issue dissipates. He was a Hellish manifestation of the short cut Luthor was tempting Kenan with. I suppose this is an easier explanation than whatever else it could be in the post- Reborn world. It can't be a true dead Superman.
But more intriguing is the power I Ching shows in Diyu. When the demons threaten to injure Luthor, Ching removes his glasses and tells them to gaze at his true nature. His visage somehow scares the demons enough to make them run off.
What is his true nature??? What does his face look like??
There is more to him than a wise yoga instructor.
It becomes clear that the heroes need to regain the door rings to both free Ching and Luthor as well as guard them so the doors of Hell can't be opened.
In another silly moment, Kenan batters Snakepit making the rings fly into the throng of devils. I love the Flash's snark here. Again, these minor mistakes and lapses define Kenan right now. He needs to grow.
Putting some humor into them make them that much more endearing.
Of course, the heroes regain the rings and open the doors. Out come the actual guardians of the doors, a giant humanoid Ox and Horse (makes sense). I Ching and Luthor are freed. The demons are herded back into Diyu. And Kenan gives the guardians the rings back for safe keeping. Luthor will be denied his prize.
But as this monstrosities are the guardians of the afterlife, Kenan asks about his parents. They tell him that his parents aren't there. We know Kenan's 'mother' died years before. So his true mother, we assume Omen, is still around.
With the gates closed and everyone safe, there is time for the heroes to take a breath.
Sitting on the Daily Planet roof (how iconic), Superman tells Kenan that a major threat is on the way. Kal will need Kenan.
Just like Superman recruited Kara, he is bringing Kenan on board. And both of those scenes really stress how worried Superman is.
A super-family gearing up for a big battle. I'm happy!
Now that Superman scene would be a great one to close the issue on.
But Yang slips in one more doozy.
We see that the White China Triad are working for Phuey Enyui. And then he removes his mask to reveal a familiar face ... or a familiar form.
The ending is too good a surprise to spoil here. Suffice it to say, there is either a traitor in the midst of Kenan's life or there are two people who look very similar. I am leaning towards the latter.
Whew! That was a lot of story for one issue, especially in this day and age. So that thrills me. But this whole cast of characters and all the subplots have had hooked me from the beginning. It is that perfect mixture of fun, emotion, and action that you want in a young hero book. If you aren't reading this book, you should be.