by Mark Mitchell
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
New Super-Man has always been a messy book, and so it’s fitting that its “conclusion” should be messy as well. Clearly intended at one point to be the final issue of the series, New Super-Man 18 is Gene Luen Yang’s usual mix of strange pacing salvaged by strong character moments.
Even for die-hard LOST fans, the show’s third-to-last episode, “Across the Sea,” is a bit of a head-scratcher. After finally building momentum towards the end of the season, the episode tells the origin story of Jacob and the Man in Black. It’s a strange, divisive episode that recontextualizes a lot of elements of the show into allegory.
New Super-Man 18 has its own “Across the Sea” moment — a sequence in the middle of the issue that explains the origin of some of the book’s most important characters and reveals key information that changes how we view everything that’s come before — but in this case it really works.
All-Yang and Master I-Ching are actually the personification of Yin and Yang, but when Yang refused to complete his training and disappeared, it fell to I-Ching to embody both. And with the world in danger thanks to the rift opened by the Red Jade Dragon last issue, I-Ching passes his mantle onto Kenan Kong, making him the embodiment of Yin and Yang.
For all my quibbles with the way individual issues have played out, Kenan’s overall arc is incredibly satisfying. Kenan has always been impulsive and hot-headed, but also kind-hearted and looking to do good, and it’s in using every element of himself — all of his personal strengths and all of his perceived weaknesses — that allow him to seal the portal threatening Earth. He’s both extraordinary and mortal. He’s Super-Man.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?