Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: New Super-Man #15

New Super-Man #15 came out a week ago and pushed forward the crazy storyline of the New Super-Man, the Great Ten, the Suicide Squad, and the Emperor Superman and his Imperial Army/White China Triad all battling it out in the streets. As much as the action is insane, a true free-for-all, it is the character moments seen between the fights that I enjoyed the most in this book. And that has been a standard  compliment I have given this book. I have read plenty of super-team books and Superman analog books in my time. It is always the strength of the characters that determines if I will continue to read the book.

So it really is the character progression here, more than the punching, that entertained me.

The art on the book is from newcomer Brent Peeples. His work isn't as smooth and polished as Philip Tan so this issue felt like a little bit of a break from the usual feel of the book. But the scenes play out well and the panels are well composed.

On to the book.

Last issue, the Suicide Squad joined in the fray and Harley Quinn stabbed the Emperor Superman through the chest with a Kryptonite katana (or, as I refer to it a K-tana). With one 'Superman' out of the way, Harley aims to put another notch on her belt and tries to do the same to Kenan.

Surprisingly, the August General in Iron leaps to Kenan's defense. And in a great moment of respect and acceptance, the General says that he won't allow Harley to hurt China's Super-Man.

You can imagine that for Kenan this is a huge moment, when the biggest super-hero of the country acknowledges that you are an ally, you are one of the crew.

Meanwhile, the two I Chings, Yin and Yang, continue to battle in what I can only call astral space.

It is clear now that these two represent those ideals, ever in combat. 'Our' I Ching, representing Yin, calls out to his brother to stop fighting. But it falls on deaf ears to the evil I Ching. With one kick, he turns the good I Ching into smoke.

My guess is you can't kill anyone in the astral plane. Our I Ching probably just evaporated himself.

I don't know if I wholly understand these two characters. Personifications of ideas? Humans with abilities and different outlooks? Either way, interesting.

Finally the Justice League of China, led by Dr. Omen of all people, arrives and joins in the fray. And it is just in time. Kenan is stabbed in the shoulder with the K-tana.

I definitely think Peeples brings it to this splash page of the JLC. I like the point of view, looking up as the team plummets into action. Everyone looks great.

While Omen brings Kenan onto the ship for some first aid, the JLC wades in, bashing everyone worth bashing.

Again, this is another great double splash from Peeples (of which I can only provide about 80%). For me, my favorite part is seeing multiple images of the Flash within the fight, a sort of Mort Meskin Johnny Quick feel.

And yes, Wonder Woman is one of my favorites in this book so seeing her above the fray lassoing Croc was perfect.

Despite the brawl in the streets, we get a quick quiet scene of the reunited Kong family on the ship. Dr. Omen confesses that she went undercover for the Ministry of Self-Reliance to infiltrate the rebel group led by Kenan's father, the Flying Dragon General. She never gives us any feeling that she cared for her husband.

But it is clear that she loved Kenan. That part was real. And when she saw him fighting Black Condor way back in issue one, she knew she had to bring him back into her life. That is a pretty cool moment, a personal moment for three characters who are bound together but who have very different viewpoints. This depth of character is something I always look for in comics.

What I don't get is how she wasn't immediately recognized by either her husband or son.

But there isn't a lot of recognition between the estranged husband and wife. And when the evil I Ching resurrects the Emperor Superman as a Doomsday, Kenan decides to leap in to defend the JLC, his true family.

Again, this shows how much Kenan has grown from the bratty bully harboring self-worth issues from the earliest parts of this book. Here he is, severely injured, leaping into trouble to save his friend. It is the sacrifice of a hero.

I didn't think I'd like Kenan early on. But he is that perfect sort of teenage super-hero: quippy, struggling and learning.

We know how fights between Super-Man and Doomsday ends.

We get two homage panels from Peeples. One recreating the final punch between Doomsday and Superman. The other, this panel, recreating Lois cradling the dead Kal.

I think this series has played with the fact that these characters are analogs of the main DCU.

But Kenan isn't actually dead ...

The last page has him waking up and facing Phuey Enyui, the stereotyped character from the cover of Detective Comics #1. This is the beginning ... of DC Comics! I love the fact that the page is colored with Ben-Day dots, a nice visual cue that we aren't in the 'real universe' anymore.

Where the heck is this going?

I want to know.

This, as usual, was a very entertaining book. I love what writer Gene Luen Yang is doing here. And I'm glad DC is keeping the book going!

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another excellent issue with good character moments and great art, featuring a rather novel take on the DC universe.

And I'm intrigued by the final panel. What will happen now those two characters have met?

"(or, as I refer to it a K-tana)"

Oh, God, that pun.

"We know how fights between Super-Man and Doomsday ends."

Ironically I've just read Superman/Batman 52 where poor, charming Li'l Superman meets his end at Doomsday's hand and is mourned by Li'l Batman and his sweet, innocent and heart-broken cousin Li'l Supergirl.

Funny like some characters have been around by decades but writers and fans don't know what to do with them other than rehashing stories where they committed a heroic sacrifice and/or were fridged. Superman's 80 birthday is coming up, but it's like the only thing has ever happened to the character is death by Doomsday. I'll refrain myself from bringing up another obvious example. coughSupergirlCrisiscough