Kenan Kong and the Justice League of China battle the Chinese Freedom Fighters in New Super-Man #4.
Is it good?
New Super-Man #4 (DC Comics)
Picking up immediately after the initial tilt in the last issue, New Super-Man #4 sees the Justice League of China continue their bout with the assemblage of villains in their midst. This gives penciller Viktor Bogdanovic a chance to show off some amazing action. Bogdanovic is able to capture Kenan’s eagerness in battle and also show off his power through the use of motion lines. When Kenan kicks Blue Condor away, Bogdanovic gives Kenan a relatively static pose, while using a multitude of long lines emanating from Blue Condor, suggesting not just the speed at which Kenan has knocked his foe back, but the relative ease in which he did it.
Hi-Fi’s colors help make the combat exciting through a use of eye-catching and subtle effects. The character designs and Hi-Fi’s choices make the world of New Super-Man #4 pop off the page with an old-school vibe. The bright green and orange backgrounds Hi-Fi uses make sure that there’s a visual energy to the page and it really synergizes with Bogdanovic’s illustrations and the inks of Richard Friend. At the same time, Hi-Fi is able to work in subtle effects, such as the very first panel of Kenan being suffocated. With the vibrant palette displayed throughout the book, one might expect Kenan’s face to be a deep purple. Instead, Hi-Fi uses a subtle blue wash that gives the moment some real urgency.
Writer Gene Luen Yang continues his excellent take on Kenan Kong. It’s hugely entertaining to see Kenan’s development. This is still the overconfident-yet-insecure kid readers met in the first issue, however Yang has been working in subtle changes to Kenan’s temperament. Here he listens to the guidance of his teammates, even if he doesn’t necessarily agree with them. He puts thought into his action. This slow change into a more mature superhero is fun because it feels real. This isn’t a story where the hero learns not to be a jerk in a matter of a few days. This is a kid who has had family issues and trust issues and is damaged by them. Because Yang is taking his time with Kenan, it’s much easier to become invested in his personal growth and it makes New Super-Man #4 more engaging.
At times, however, Yang’s script slows the pacing of the comic to a crawl. In particular, after the initial battle with the Chinese Freedom Fighters, the dialogue between the members of the JLC crowds the page visually, and it lacks the snap that kept the book moving during other scenes. It ultimately bogs the book down, creating a lull after an exciting sequence. Fortunately the book picks up the energy in the final pages before culminating in a thrilling cliffhanger.
Is It Good?
Ultimately, New Super-Man #4 is a good installment in a great series. The pacing issues in the script hold the book back a bit, but Gene Luen Yang’s Kenan Kong makes for a fun protagonist to follow. The exciting artwork by Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend keep the action thrilling, and the color work by Hi-Fi gives New Super-Man #4 a great tone and real stakes.