I won’t even pretend to be objective during this review. I am a Gene Luen Yang fan. I first discovered him when I started teaching American Born Chinese, and he just keeps winning me over. After all, the guy is the official National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature!
So, it’s probably obvious I’m going to sing New Super-Man praises.
Yang is no stranger to Superman, having written the character before, but New Super-Man is a world away from everyone’s beloved Clark Kent. New Super-Man is Kong Kenan, a young man in China who is not particularly nice, humble, altruistic, or, well, heroic. He’s a bit of a bully, doesn’t get along with his dad all that well, and has attitude to spare.
So how does he become New Super-Man? You’ll have to read the book to find out, but, as one would expect, Yang lays the groundwork for a very rich, complex character that I’m sure will become even more layered as time progresses. After all, Yang excels at depicting relatable characters overcoming internal turmoil. There are some fun bits of action, moments of quirky Yang humor, and the last page will force a double-take.
I love the entire premise of what Yang is doing with New Super-Man — I’m frankly surprised DC went for this idea. It’s funny, but even though this book literally uses the name of the most famous super hero in the world, it is by far the most original comic I’ve read in ages. Sure, Yang borrows from Superman mythology, but he does so with a wink and a nudge. Anyone who believes this book is a ripoff is not paying close enough attention.
Packed full of characterization, action, humor, and heart, Yang’s New Super-Man is off to an exhilarating start.
… That last page. This is going to be interesting.