by Mark Mitchell
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Political commentary is not New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 21’s forte. It’s mostly informative in the sense that characters are literally declaring information, like when Bat-Man flatly proclaims that, “North Korea is an asylum inmate that only listens to China…” But while the political message of the book lacks nuance, that writer Gene Luen Yang bothers to go there at all is commendable. If every comic book is someone’s first comic books, than every fleeting discussion of Sino-North Korean politics is someone’s first fleeting discussion of Sino-North Korean politics — and that’s worth celebrating. (Information is power!)
Of course, New Super-Man is most arresting when it’s finding unique ways to mash-up the classic DC heroes with the mythology of Asian cultures, and in that respect issue #21 doesn’t disappoint.
Finally, the Aqua-Man of North Korea is revealed. (And I am feeling that finally. The issue crawls forward until the final few pages). When the book rebranded last issue to include “…and the Justice League of China” in its title, it marked an expanded scope in ways that are just beginning to become apparent. Yang is using the new breadth of the book to move beyond China and incorporate other Asian folklore’s into his mythology.
It turns out Aqua-Man of North Korea is born by touching the bones of an ancient Korean king-turned-sea dragon and, believe me, I am here for it.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?