New Super-Man #19 – Mariko Tamaki, Writer; Brent Peeples, Penciller; Richard Friend, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Good Interlude!
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Following the conclusion of the initial eighteen-issue arc (that was supposed to be the conclusion of the series before a reprieve due to critical acclaim) and before next month’s rebranding, Gene Luen Yang takes a one-month break for a guest issue for New Super-Man #19 by Hulk/Supergirl: Being Super writer Mariko Tamaki.
The issue has an interesting concept – retelling the story of the first arc from the perspective of supporting character Laney Lan, the young reporter who found herself telling the Justice League of China’s story. Laney was never more than a minor supporting character in the main run, seemingly only there to be a parallel to Lois Lane. But this issue gives her the chance to tell her own story, and Tamaki gives her some interesting new layers. The issue opens with her interviewing people on the street about China’s superheroes while trying to sell her boss on a serious story instead of social media puff pieces.
But there’s also some dark sides to her story, including a mysterious estrangement from her father, who is supposedly working abroad. Her mother wants her to call him on her birthday, but she’s putting it off. A little too much of the issue is her being rescued by the JL of China and then bantering with them, but there’s an interesting new wrinkle in that she apparently knew about Doctor Omen’s true identity long before Kenan did, and her attempts to discuss it with him lead to some awkward moments over an interview. I do feel like she’s a bit too much of a blank slate – if she had been given more page time in the previous run, this issue would have more weight – but the ending of the issue has a strong twist involving Laney’s family and her relationship with her father that makes me think she could become more of a presence in volume two. The issue does take place early in the run, so it might feel a bit out of step, but this is an interesting sideways detour into one of DC’s best books.
Corrina: This fill-in issue adds depth to a supporting character who sorely needed and, the same time, tells a complete story that centers on her problems, rather than the superheroes she covers. Indeed, there is more reporting and more about her interior emotional life than in many recent Lois Lane stories. Can we have Tamaki write some Lois Lane: Girl Reporter stories?
The downside of this approach is that it will likely only interest fans who’ve read the rest of the New Super-Man run. And that’s a shame because Laney Lan’s story is a fine one and reads similarly to the slice-of-life stories that Astro City is so good at.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.