SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “New Super-Man” #1, on sale now.
Writer Gene Luen Yang finds himself moving from the New 52 Superman to another, even newer Superman, or more accurately, “New Super-Man” #1. Yes, the name is hyphenated, as the lead character isn’t yet another incarnation of the Man of Steel, but instead brand new, albeit infused with similar powers to his namesake. Artists Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard illustrate the story of teenager Kong Kenan, whose alliterative moniker evoking that of a certain better-known mild-mannered reporter isn’t the only parallel to characters in the existing Superman, and DC Universe, mythos.
Case in point: fellow teen and bullying victim Luo Lixin, who’s introduction involves being chased down a Shanghai street by another kid who arguably fits the role of his personal arch-foe — namely, the bullying Kenan himself. After staving off Kenan at the cost of his lunch, the unfortunate Lixin finds himself victimized again, this time by a far more dangerous predator: the Blue Condor, who Kenan describes as “one of China’s first American-style supervillains.” For reasons he can’t really discern, Kenan impulsively takes a stand against the costumed bad guy. For equally uncertain reasons, Blue Condor flees the scene, resulting in the unlikely scenario of Kenan saving Lixin, with Lixin now readily regarding the antagonistic Kenan as a hero.
All of this catches the eye of reporter and TV host Laney Lan, who interviews the boastful, and far from mild-mannered, Kenan on live television. After flirting with the reporter, Kenan makes his way home where he is chastised by his disapproving and resentful father, who’s more concerned about Kenan associating with Lixin the first place, as well as his longtime goal of exposing a secret government organization, than he is in Kenan’s well-being.
That organization is known as The Ministry of Self-Reliance, who coincidentally enough has also taken notice of Kenan’s earlier actions. One of its operatives, Dr. Omen, approaches Kenan as he visits his mother’s grave, where she commends his heroism and claims she can offer to give him powers similar to those of the recently-deceased Superman. Kenan agrees, and during the subsequent procedure, he recollects what he has learned about his mother’s passing. It’s here that readers learn her death came in a plane crash; a plane manufactured by the company run by Lixin’s father, and the root cause of Kenan’s animosity towards the boy he saved a few hours earlier.
The procedure culminates in the explosion of the chamber Kenan is housed in, and he emerges in a red but otherwise Superman-like costume, now imbued with the powers of flight and heat vision. Concerned with his seeming inability to control these powers, though, Omen calls in support to contain him, and that support arrives in the form of altered versions of two other familiar-ish heroes, namely China’s Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman, serving as the issue’s cliffhanger.
Part two of “Made in China” arrives August 10 in “New Super-Man” #2.
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