Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: New Super-Man And The Justice League Of China #22

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #22 came out last week, ratcheting up the intrigue of the North Korean Aquaman and Kenan's continued struggles with his powers' origins.

I have been a fan of Gene Luen Yang's book since its inception. And current artist Brent Peeples has become more comfortable with the characters as his issues accumulate. But the thing that gets me is that this book has matured quickly. We have gone from a sort of idiot having the mantle of Super-Man thrust on him to a fully functioning super-team with inter-squad relationships and a growing rogue's gallery. Perhaps most surprising, it has never felt too fast or forced. This book has organically grown. And it has been entertaining the whole way through.

While the Aquaman side plot is a good one and brings the plot thrust here, it is Kenan's struggles that really grab me. His quest for balance while being a young kid with super-powers reads true. What happens in this issue makes sense.

I sort of see the writing on the wall. I fear this book is most likely ending soon and that is a shame.

On to the book.

While Kenan is the straw that stirs the drink, Wonder Woman is my favorite character in the book. She is the most pure.

Here she is frustrated at Bat-Man. Baixi thinks Kwang-Jo needs to be returned to North Korea. One person isn't worth worldwide political unrest. Of course for Deilan, the one's need for freedom and justice is just as important.

It is a rift in their relationship. Perhaps it is this difference that provides the juice for them. But it is clear, Deilan is angry. "'Pure heart' crap" and "condescending tone" are heavy words lightly thrown.

Before the argument can get more heated, Dragonson, the deified form of Aqua-Man arrives. He is going to head to Korea's Paektu mountain to force change onto the land. And he is in full warrior mode, stating he'll kill anyone who stands in his way and even attacking the team.

As usual, it is Deilan who has to be the voice of reason on all sides. She convinces Dragonson to drop his sword, the bone of the dragon King Munmu. And she is able to reach Kwang-Jo. He ... the person inside ... isn't this warrior. He is a kid who likes the Simpsons.

He drops the sword and reverts.

But this plan might backfire.

The Green Lantern Corps of China, the police force of the Ministry of Self-Reliance, arrives and take both Kwang-Jo and Bat-Man with them into custody.

Maybe this is the lesson Bat-Man needed. He is the one who called the GLC and here he is rounded up as a traitor. He still thinks the world and stability is more important than just this one citizen of North Korea. And yet, he is picked up.

Both sides do have a reasonable argument. Do the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many?

It is too big a problem for Kenan initially. He doesn't know how to bring balance to this conundrum.

Eventually he joins the fight to free Kwang-Jo and Baixi.

When the Corps attacks him with Kryptonite weapons, Kenan loses it. He won't let anyone remove the powers he worked so hard for. And so he loses his patience and his cool. He loses his temper. There is no balance with this response. There is only anger.

We have seen Kenan go inside and struggle between I Ching and All Yang. This respons? It is all yang.

And so he manifests a new look, a new costume. Gone are the colors. Gone is the Yin/Yang look of the S-shield. He is suddenly All Yang.

His words, his actions, his haughtiness? All Yang.

No balance.

I don't think the Bat-Man being brought in by the Ministry makes much sense from the story viewpoint. But it does allow Yang to bring back his version of the Joker, the Alpaca. And we get the Bane Rongpei. Alpaca, Baixi's sister (!!), hasn't been seen for a long time.

If anything, this made me think that Yang wants to finish this plotline, left hanging for some time, before the book gets canceled. 

Need more evidence that this is the All Yang New Super-Man?

Look at the way he flies! That is ridiculous.

And he is going to eliminate the Aqua-Man issue very simply. He is going to kill him.

This isn't Kenan.

Somewhere along the way, I talked about how Kenan absorbing All Yang into him could be a double edged sword. That voice is now inside him, seductive. I think I said it reminded me of Baron Harkonnen being inside Alia in Dune Messiah.

The JLC shows up at the Presidential Palace and free Kwang-Jo. Wonder Woman throws Kwang-Jo the dragon bone allowing him to manifest the Dragon Son identity again. And armed with his sword, he is able to deflect Kenan's attacks.

His mission is simple. In mythology, the dragon can open Mount Paektu and open the heavenly floodgates, drowning the world like in the Noah myth in the Judeo-Christian bible. The DragonSon will wash away the sins of the land. He makes it to the mountain and splits it open. He is going to drown them all.

So not many good guys in this book. Wonder Woman and the Flash are probably the only ones with giid intentions throughout.

How will Kenan shake off his All-Yang manifestation? How will Kwang-Jo shake off this deity intent on killing everyone? How will Baixi deal with his villainous sister?

There is a lot going down here and I am loving it.

Overall grade: B+/B


Anonymous said...

Very good, as always.

But I as well see the writing on the wall. That cover featuring the whole team, walking into what seems to be the sunset? It screams "book ending soon" to me. A pity. It's a solid story, with great art.

Unknown said...

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