New Super-Man #11 came out this week and was another entertaining issue from writer Gene Luen Yang. While there is the usual spotlight on the title character, there is a lot of world building in this book as well. Yang is really creating a whole DCU on the Eastern Hemisphere and it has an old time reader like me pretty engaged. It is like discovering the DCU all over again.
In particular, one of the characters I have been most curious about in this title has been this world’s Wonder Woman. We have heard some tiny crumbs of her origin prior to this. Here we learn a bit more about her background and one of her previous battles. Even her name is somewhat changed. And that all makes me interested in learning more.
But it was also good to see some of the spotlight still focusing on Kenan and his character. Despite the heroic nature he has been showing in the book recently, he is still has some of the smug, self-important teen we met in the earliest issues inside him. That idea that he is growing but hasn’t completely grown is wonderful. This is the classic teen hero on the journey.
Viktor Bogdanovic has left the book, heading over to the Superman title. In his place is Billy Tan who brings a truly lovely, smooth, clean look to the book. It is different from Bogdanovic who looked pretty scratchy at times. I think Tan’s style might be a better fit for the book. Hope he sticks around.
On to the book.
The issue starts with Kenan in I Ching's yoga studio learning how to stand still for a prolonged period. The hope is that by learning to stand still he will activate the tri-gram which will give him access to super-speed, the power to move quickly. The exercise proves to be on the money as suddenly the tri-gram activates.
There is a lot of this reverse wisdom (e.g. to run you must learn to stand still) which sounds a bit inane to me. Almost comical. So I keep wondering if I Ching is really as wise as he lets on. That said, you can't knock the results.
I also love how the brash Kenan is revisited here, thinking that Mingming is hot and therefore must be into him. Classic.
I mentioned that much of this issue is world building. One element is learning more about the New Flash. While she is Chinese and therefore eligible for the Justice League of China, she is Chinese-American. I love how Batman and Wonder Woman comment that the Flash's self-interest somehow shows she is American. She doesn't have the same belief system as them. I totally think this will cause some comedic friction within the team.
Kenan shows up, showing off his new super-speed power. So, of course, these two immediately race to see who is the fastest in China. It is a nice double-page spread of their race. And I like how these two are much more impetuous than Baixi and Deilan. Again, more grist for the mill.
Earlier in the book, we saw the Chinese White Triad slaughter a science research team exploring the depths of the waters off Shanghai. The scientists had discovered this statue, part of the Legend of the White Snake.
Here we learn that this statue is closely linked to Wonder Woman's origins. We knew she was encased in a stone prison. This person put her there. Hmmm ...
I was wondering if there was a closer connection between Deilan and the Amazons but it looks like that isn't the case.
At one point, Kenan begins to vibrate out of control and needs to be taught how to calm down. Apparently in the Flash, Avery was taught to think about something she loved. For someone who grew up reading how Wally survived everything that happened to him because his love for Linda was a beacon, I thought this was great.
But Kenan is still just being silly, running by, hugging pandas, and reaching 'the finish line' only to find the Flash already there sipping a soda.
I loved this breezy, fun scene. After all, life needs some humor injected into the otherwise dour events happening around us.
This isn't a statue however. It seems more like a chrysalis. The Triad inject the statue with something and suddenly Fahai awakens. He also immediately grows to kaiju size and begins threatening the seashore.
Look, superheroes fighting kaiju? What more could I ask for?
The rest of the League arrives and Wonder Woman stabs this monster in the eye with a spear, seeming to kill him. But Fahai isn't dead. He rises and gives us some backstory. First, he calls Deilan by the name 'Green Snake'. This makes me think that perhaps Deilan is a snake spirit, a serpent who transcended to human form.
Then we learn that the Triad had injected Fahai with Doomsday virus, meaning he cannot be killed and instead will evolve with each death.
But then there is more mysterious back story of Fahai and Deilan. I don't think we have a cake yet but we have plenty of crumbs.
'Green Snake' trapped Fahai at the bottom of the ocean centuries earlier. Now if 'Green Snake' surrenders, Fahai will return order to existence. Surprisingly, Wonder Woman agrees and surrenders.
Does this mean Deilan is immortal? Was she in a snake form then? How did she get trapped in stone in the end? Hmmm .... nice mystery here.
Well, the ultimate enemy convinces the government to convince Omen.
Initially I thought this might be I Ching, acting as some sort of double agent. But this man's glasses are tinted white, while Ching's are tinted black. Could this be some yin/yang persona? Split into two halves?
Nice mystery here as well.
And Project Zero does arrive, the initial experiment Omen did with harnessing the extra energy of Superman. And this guy seems unhinged. Perhaps the cure is going to be worse than the disease.
I really feel like Yang and Tan are firing on all cylinders here giving us enough of the title character to make it feel like it is truly his book while also showing us the big world around him. The League, the origins, the Turtle Spirit, the big bad behind the scenes - it all shows a long form thought around this corner of the DCU. It all feels fresh.
I do worry a bit about this book being lost among the other titles. I don't think it helps that DC puts out 4 super-books on the same day. Readers only have so much to spend week to week. Why not spread out Supergirl, Superwoman, and New Super-Man onto different weeks of the cycle?
Overall grade: A