Kenan Kong finds himself face to face with the Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman of China in New Super-Man #2. These heroes have a plan to take the fledgling hero under their wing. Is it good?
New Super-Man #2 (DC Comics)
After the previous issue introduced the Chinese Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman, New Super-Man #2 doubles down on the idea that China is building its own version of the Justice League, and Kenan Kong is meant to be the centerpiece as its Superman. Writer Gene Luen Yang deftly addresses the concerns readers might have about such an idea by having Kenan Kong express his own skepticism. It’s a good move as Kenan was already established as a cocky, skeptical young man, so it feels natural that he would balk at the idea of a Chinese version of the League.
This development also leads to some humorous bits as Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman don’t appreciate Kenan’s attitude and are quick to try to get him under their toe. For the most part, the issue runs as a meet-and-greet, with both Kenan and the Ministry of Self Reliance discovering that the fledgling hero’s powers don’t quite work the way they anticipated. As Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman go on a mission to take out a supervillain, Kenan worms his way into the mission, becoming a liability since he lacks his powers. But Yang is able to keep Kenan relatable–even if readers don’t necessarily like his cocksure attitude, it’s easy to understand his earnestness and his insecurities.
Lasso Skin. Gross.
Artist Viktor Bogdanovic does a fantastic job bringing the humor to the forefront in the script. There’s an extended gag involving Kenan having to wear a visor to prevent his heat vision from hurting anyone and Bogdanovic sells it by capturing Kenan’s frustration and pain in his body language. Inker Richard Friend preserves a lot of the detailing in Bogdanovic’s pencils, giving the issue a looser quality that really matches well with the freewheeling nature of the protagonist. Color artist Hi-Fi uses a flatter palette while still maintaining the variety of colors one would expect for a superhero book, creating a low-key tone that helps sell the humor and personality of Kenan. This is important because it’s the tone that keeps Kenan as the focus of the story when his supporting cast has more visual flair.
Is It Good?
Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic have done a fantastic job creating Kenan Kong and setting up his world. While the “secret military organization recruits a superhero” story has been done before, Yang’s script takes a self-aware tone to it all that keeps the book refreshing. And the artwork by Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend, and Hi-Fi gives the book some great storytelling sequences. New Super-Man is a book that banks on the strengths and flaws of its characters to provide the entertainment and so far, it’s been a gamble that’s paid off.