New Super-Man #1
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Penciled by Viktor Bogdanovic
Published by DC Comics
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Superman is a cultural icon that carries a lot of cultural baggage.  A staunch defender of Truth, Justice, and The American Way, DC Comics has often struggled against the massive amount of inertia this creates for a character.  Superman as a flawless, heroic figure who rescues kittens from trees and never steps a toe out of line becomes dated, boring, and even corny.  But attempts to ‘modernize’ the character can likewise be criticized as feeling forced, too dark, or just plain not fun.  Which is why I find Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic’s “New Super-Man” so interesting.
The eponymous character isn’t Clark Kent at all, but Kong Kenan, the teenage son of a Shanghai mechanic.  Kong isn’t quite the heroic figure we’ve come to expect.  He’s a downright selfish, arrogant bully.  But when a video of him standing up to a super-villain goes viral, he’s recruited by a secretive government ministry to become a superhero.
The story itself is a bit rushed in the first issue, but Yang lays down a lot of groundwork for future stories.  Mostly we get a character sketch of Kong, but the Shanghai he inhabits feels vibrant and authentic in a way that seems like a step forward for comics, even if it is literally the least they could do.  Bogdanovich’s expressive, detailed art is outstanding, and really keeps the otherwise basic origin story moving along.  He’s helped by gorgeous, eye-catching coloring by Hi-Fi.
“New Super-Man #1” is a somewhat cookie-cutter first act of a super-hero origin story, but there are enough neat twists to get me looking forward to where the story goes next.  You can pick it up now from Comixology or your local comics shop.

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