Joy and Frustration in New Super-Man 17

by Mark Mitchell

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

There’s a lot of joy in the opening pages of Gene Luen Yang and Joe Lalich’s New Super-Man 17 as Kenan Kong and his Justice League of China friends get to meet their older, more experienced OG idols. Super-Man and Superman already met a few issues back, and Avery and the Flash are already buds, but this is the first time Bat-Man gets to meet Batman, and Wonder-Woman gets to meet Wonder Woman, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Batman, in particular, is about as lovingly Batman about the whole thing as you would expect. First, he chews out Bat-Man for not thoroughly vetting his tech, before softening slightly to offer some friendlier advice.

There are no Green Lantern or Aquaman analogs in the Justice League of China yet, but Yang teases the possibility with Bat-Man remarking that they’re “working on it.”

Pacing has always been the Kryptonite of Yang’s New Super-Man, and the issues loses momentum in its back half when Kenan reverts back into Harry-Potter-circa-The Order of the Phoenix-mode and charges into Lex Luthor’s compound in search of the Red Jade Dragon. Maybe it’s realistic for Kenan to exhibit bouts of Teenage Angst and Undue Anger at the drop of a hat, but that doesn’t mean it’s any fun to sit through.

Especially because the pay-off isn’t worth it. There’s no drama in Kenan acquiring the Red Jade Dragon — it’s just sitting in Luthor’s basement (or something). And while possessing it apparently causes Kenan to operate at full Qi — flowing with superpower — there’s no weight to the moment. It feels like two issues worth of story got compressed into a few rushed pages. It’s a slight hiccup in an otherwise strong run of issues.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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