DC Comics Rebirth's most interesting new title, New Super-Man is the the kind of comic book that DC Comics used to take chances on, and thankfully is doing so again. It's the smartest of their new line of books, and easily the top of the pile must read this summer as far as mainstream superhero comics are concerned.
The "New Super-Man" is having problems with his new superpowers. They seem to be a bit spotty as far as their reliability is concerned. Still, when necessary, Kong Kenan/Super-Man displays the propensity for super-heroics whether super powered up or not. While out on a mission to rescue an important government target from a super villain though, Kenan/Super-Man asks both the wrong question and reveals a bit too much of his personal self in his brashness.
Brilliant. There aren't many other words that will adequately sum up New Super-Man thus far, and we are only two issues in. Writer Gene Luen Yang is crafting a tale that is at once funny, action packed, and brilliantly metaphoric at the same time. He has taken a world wide recognized American pop cultural character and sculpted a Chinese cultural knock off of him that is at once his own unique character and a purposeful metaphor for the affect (and essence) of American pop-culture imperialism. Kenan/Super-Man is a brash, insulting, arrogant, overbearing, and dominant buffoon with a heart of gold and the courage to leap into action for the right cause. In other words, he is more than just a metaphor for American pop-culturalism, filtered through a Chinese cultural lens, he is a melding of the atypical and ideal stereotypical American as well as the stereotypical American superhero. His interactions with the stoic Justice League of China's Wonder-Woman and the cerebral Chinese Bat-Man are smartly laid out by Yang to parallel (on the smallest yet smartest scale) American and Chinese cultural differences and clashes. It's all in a great spirit of fun that the whole story of this New Super-Man is unfolding though, so there's no harshness to the criticism of pop culture clashes here. Nevertheless, the story is smart and insightful in ways that I had never expected.
Artist Viktor Bogdanovic keeps the tone light visually as well with the comical countenances of his heroes and the slightly slapstick look of his action sequences. Importantly though, Bogdanovic's art manages to not come off as cartoonish, or even more importantly, imitate Manga or its regional cousin Manhwa (see Min-Woo Hyung's Priest) styles. Bogdanovic's style is all his own and it's perfect for Yang's story.
DC Comics' most interesting Rebirth title, New Super-Man is a must read. It's good to see that DC Comics isn't afraid to take chances on smart storytelling again.