Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #13

New Super-Man #13 came out last week and really began the job of tightening all the plot threads that have been moving through the book into one story. And it feels like we are getting close to a major conclusion. I finished this issue and was already ready for more. This issue really felt like that, a turn of the crank, adding tension.

As much as this book is a New Super-Man book with Kenan Kong as the axle that the stories revolve around, it could just as easily be called Justice League China. That is one of the things that has most impressed me with writer Gene Luen Yang's work on the book. We are dealing with a lot of Asian analogs to classic DC characters, but they have remained fresh and distinct from their namesakes. Between the role call of antagonists and protagonists, at times this has felt like the Legion of Chinese Super-Heroes. Yang keeps it all cohesive and moving forward and that is impressive.

And Billy Tan's smooth art on the book has been wonderful since he took over art chores. There is a smooth feeling to the proceedings, whether it is action or emotion. I hope he stays on the book for a while.

But what actually happened? On to the book!

Last issue, Dr. Omen said she was Kenan's mother as she was falling to her death. Initially Kenan can't believe it but then he feels overcome to save her. I figure that Superman would always want to save people. Glad he didn't just let her die.

But before he can rescue her, the Emperor Superman flies by and grabs her, whisking her away.

The death of Kenan's mother has been a big plot point since the beginning of this series. I hope if it turns out that Omen is his biological mother that we still have some scenes with him mourning his adoptive mother and coming to terms with that.

Blasted with the Emperor's freeze breath, Kenan needs to be rescued by the Flash.

Despite the usual 'phrase flip' wisdom from I Ching, Kenan can't deal with the chaos. He loses his cool. He knows his father is kidnapped. He may have just lost his mother.

I still don't know if I am supposed to be taking I Ching's wisdom in this form seriously or not. It sounds like something on a card spit out by a machine at a carnival. That doesn't mean it isn't true. But am I supposed to be smirking.

Because as much as I Ching spits out maxims, he also is able to deep dive philosophy and help Kenan grow. Remember, the I Ching is about divination.

So I really loved this sequence. Here, Kenan is brought within himself with Ching. He sees the noise of all the things he could do. And then, somehow, the right answer is divined. From that mess comes the message ... lead.

This is light years beyond the simple phrase flip.

Meanwhile, Dr. Omen has been brought to the Emperor's headquarters, the Fortress of Sovereignty (not solitude, love it). There she meets the evil I Ching. At least now it seems clear that this isn't I Ching but instead some shadowy version of him. Fascinating.

Then Ching says the Emperor is Omen's son. I suppose in some ways she was the mother to his powers. There could be that sort of creator sense. And then I wondered if that is what she meant by being Kenan's mother. I don't think so given how she rescued Kenan's father.

In fact, Kenan's father is brought before her. The Emperor will kill him if Omen doesn't release all the criminals in the Crabshell prison.

Throughout this book, Omen has seemed cold, distant, strong. This finally makes her break. I like it. It humanizes her. It also makes me think she truly is Kenan's mother.

The collected villains from the Crabshell swarm into Shanghai.

Feng Rongpei, Baixi's nemesis in school, was given Venom and becomes the Chinese Bane, or in this case Anathema.

But before the Bane analog can break the back of the Batman analog, Kenan flies in for the rescue.

A Bane analog called Anathema. Love it!

The other Superman declares himself Emperor and releases his Imperial Army to enforce the new reign.

Looking at these characters, I am trying to see if I can figure out who they are based on. Hourman? Beast Boy? Bulleteer?

Remember that Kenan's future path was to lead. With the city in jail, he is at the front of the charge of the newly formed Justice League of China. I can only home that Wonder Woman returns next issue!

So this was a classic middle section of a story. No real new plots were introduced but the temperature on all the existing ones has been turned up. And we end with a classic cliffhanger, the hero team running to fight the villains.

I have said it before but this is such a fun comic. It has the right mix of action, emotion, and humor. And most of all, it just feels new.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

It seems Kenan's transformation into hero is going along nicely. He's a bit more mature and is becoming a leader. And the Emperor is a funny villain. Nonetheless...

"Join me in my Fortress of Sovreignty!" Sovreignty? How did DC let this misspelling slip by?

Off topic: I've seen the "Gotham City Garage" designs and even though Kara's look is quite stylistic, I don' like her tattoos. It comes across as DC trying too hard to make Supergirl "edgy" -again-, I can't stop wondering how on Earth she got -and kept!- a tattoo, and it reminds me when Kara got one. It's a bad sign when something reminds me of "Candor". Otherwise I'm glad that Supergirl figures prominently on a new Elseworlds story, and I'm intrigued with her name ("Kara Gordon"? Has she been taken in by the Gordons? Is Babs her adoptive sister? Or is she an amalgamation of both characters? I hope it's the former), but it sounds like this story will be even more agenda-driven than Bombshells. I don't care either for an evil Batman, although I guess it's only fair after years of Evil Superman stories.

Anonymous said...

I saw a Gotham Garage Batgirl Doll/Statue/ActionFigure and a separate Kara one, so I am guessing Kara Gordon is not both characters at once, unless her secret biker identity is another biker identity.:D

Heh, it would be fun if Kara and Babs were married, two butch bikers. XD

My guess is some sort of adoption thing going on, but it will be interesting to see.

I don't see why Kara would need a bike, though the prospect of imagining Kara flying with bike under herself while making Crazy Frog sounds puts a smile on my face.

In regards to the issue at hand, I'm not reading New Superman currently, but if the upcoming SG/Kenan crossover spills into a New Superman issue I might pick it up.


Anonymous said...

Just saw a video with the writers of Gotham City Garage.

Jim Gordon takes in Kara as a daughter, making Babs her sister.


Anonymous said...

First anonymous here.

"I don't see why Kara would need a bike"

Selling toys?

"though the prospect of imagining Kara flying with bike under herself while making Crazy Frog sounds puts a smile on my face."

Heh. This reminds me of an DC Super Hero Girls episode.

"Jim Gordon takes in Kara as a daughter, making Babs her sister."

I'll not lie. I'd love to see this.

Of late, it seems writers tend to give Supergirl a sister. Alex, Stargirl, Batgirl... I wonder who started the trend.

(Of course, in the original Pre-Crisis continuity the Danvers had a son. I don't think it counts, though)

Professor Feetlebaum said...

I'd forgotten about the Danvers' son. Had to look it up. Action Comics 303.
As for Gotham City Garage, I didn't know the statue line was popular enough to warrant a spin-off comic series, but ok. As to the Supergirl statue, the pose is nice, and if she was wearing her regular costume (and the price was right) I'd probably get it, but as it is, I'll let it go. Glad to see Kara getting her due in merchandise, though.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

And speaking of merchandise, the Toyark site has pictures from San Diego of the Joelle Jones Cover Girl statue, the Kotobukiya TV statue, the Gotham City Garage statue, and the Tweeterhead Bronze Age statue. The Tweeterhead statue has 2 versions, the exclusive with Streaky, and the regular without Streaky. It looks like the Streaky version is only available directly from Tweeterhead.

Peter LoCasto said...

The green character you think is Beast Boy is Kuei. He was a member of the Young Allies from "Young All-Stars." He was a Chinese soldier who drowned and was reborn as a kind of water spirit/demon and helped fight Axis Ameriak.