New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 20: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

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

Spencer: There’s a common belief that kids raised in sheltered, restrictive environments will go absolutely wild at their very first taste of freedom. I don’t know if the truth is that extreme — I was about as sheltered as they came as a child, and all my rebellions have been rather tame — but there is a lot of truth to the idea that needless restrictions and censorship just hurt people, regressing emotions and hindering growth and in many cases leading to actual physical punishment for meaningless offenses. New Super-Man and the Justice League of China 20 taps into the latter when it introduces its new “Aquaman,” Ahn Kwang-Jo. Continue reading

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An Overdue Spotlight Turns on Laney Lan in New Super-Man 19

by Mark Mitchell

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

When New Super-Man premiered, Laney Lan, the book’s Lois Lane equivalent (whose name my iPad always wants to autocorrect like she’s a local area network), was primed to play a prominent role in the series — Kenan Kong had goo-goo eyes for her, and her plucky reporting skills promised to help Kenan unravel the mysteries of his family. But somewhere along the way, series creator Gene Luen Yang seemingly lost interest in repeating the ideas of Superman beat for beat, or perhaps just couldn’t find room for Laney as the book began to sprawl. But as Yang prepares to relaunch New Super-Man as New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, Mariko Tamaki and Richard Friend’s one-off New Super-Man 19 circles back to turn a spotlight on Laney — maybe as a taste of a larger role in the story going forward, or maybe as a last hurrah for a character who never quite had a place.

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A Satisfying “Ending” in New Super-Man 18

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.

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New Super-Man 16 Drags Historic Racism into the Present

by Mark Mitchell

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

Recently on my morning commute, I’ve been catching up on the Washington Post‘s new(ish) podcast, Constitutional. The podcast’s third episode, “Nationality,” traces the story of Wong Kim Ark, a man born in San Francisco to Chinese parents whose Supreme Court case determined that being born in America made you an American citizen. And while that brief summary makes it sound like his story is a victory for the foundational ideals of America, the details paint a much less satisfying picture. It’s no secret that America is historically a deeply racist country, and that efforts to make forward progress are continually contested making victories hard-won. New Super-Man 16 reminds us how casually pervasive racism used to be, but also provides a measure for some of the progress that has been made. Continue reading

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. Continue reading