New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20 – Gene Luen Yang, Writer; Brent Peeples, Penciller; Matt Santorelli, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: New Super-Man was apparently slated for cancellation at the end of its initial eighteen-issue arc, but was spared due to positive buzz and, hopefully, trade sales, and now we have New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20. That means we get a sort-of relaunch in this retitled series, as Kenan shares the focus more with his incredibly engaging friends in the Justice League of China. This issue is one of the best of the series, with a looser, less plot-heavy vibe that is perfect for new readers to jump on while also giving long-time readers a lot of new development and a fascinating new character. As the story picks up again, Kenan is continuing to work on mastering his new powers, while newest member Avery continues to be both a thorn on his side and a friend (and maybe something more). Their dynamic is probably the most fun in the series, but I’m also a big fan of Baixi and Deilan as they slowly figure out their new relationship.
There are villains, of course – both an Apokaliptan criminal named Sleez and a group of militant faux-Green Lanterns working for the Ministry of Self-Reliance. But the much bigger challenge comes across the border in North Korea, where a young man with an unusual sweating problem finds himself in trouble with the ruthless authorities in Pyongyang for wanting to broaden his horizons. The brutal beating he endures triggers his unusual powers, and this is a genuinely new take on Aquaman – he doesn’t swim underwater, he can generate water – and, with it, giant creatures that live in it. The issue ends with an invasion of China by giant monster crabs! One issue into the new direction, this is probably a better Teen Titans book than any actual Teen Titans book we’ve gotten in years. It’s got the appealing characters, a great team dynamic, and a legitimate and unique threat. Here’s hoping this new lease on life pays off in sales!
Corrina: This is a comic that I literally want to shove into people’s hands so they can read it.
It’s been of consistent quality from the beginning. The first 18 issues are a beautiful character arc for Kenan, once a bully, who learned truths about his family, himself, and others, until he became a hero. If you don’t (for some reason?) want to buy those issues, New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20 is a great place to jump onto the series. Kenan’s become such a winning character, especially with the jokes here about how he’s trying to a calm and reasonable soul, and sometimes can’t help, well, being himself anyway.
And if you told me at the beginning of this run that the Batman of China would become one of my favorite new characters of the last few years, I wouldn’t have believed you. But he is.
Also, totally on board for the giant monster crab invasion.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.