The Art Fails the Cast of New Super-Man 15

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

Gene Luen Yang hasn’t shown much interest in subtlety throughout the run of New Super-Man, but even by those standards New Super-Man 15 is remarkably direct. Multiple times during the action, characters directly address the differences between the West and China. These differences — language, cultural, and especially political — come into literal conflict when the Justice League of China brawls with the Suicide Squad. It’s not subtle, but it is exciting. All of the action, plus the Kong family’s domestic drama continuing to build, makes for the most thrilling issue of New Super-Man to date.

But while narratively the issue soars, the art of New Super-Man 15 struggles to keep pace. Brent Peeples is on pencils this issue, taking over from series regular Billy Tan, and the change is stark. It’s pretty clear that Peeples doesn’t exactly know how to render Asian characters, so he mostly doesn’t try. This leaves characters like Wonder-Woman looking straight out of a Final Fantasy game — vaguely ethnic but unidentifiable as Chinese.

Still, that’s more flattering than his depictions of Kenan and Dr. Omen. In attempting to emulate their high cheek bones, Peeples instead gives the characters sloping and extended brows. It trends towards Neanderthal instead of Asian, which is rather unfortunate.

Peeples shows skill in other areas, but as far as the characters go he seems like the wrong artist on the wrong title. Hopefully this is just a temporary assignment, or he grows into the role pretty quickly. For a book whose identity is built on its heritage, the current product is not really sustainable.

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