The DC Universe is full of legacies and superheroic families that stretch for generations—that's part of what makes it so wonderful! But a lot of the time, the big names in those families take up much of the spotlight. Everyone's going to instantly recognize Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. They'll probably immediately know Robin and Superboy, too. But these groups and clusters of heroes go way, way beyond that, spanning not just whole cities but all over the globe. That's exactly where Kong Kenan, AKA Super-Man, comes in, and considering it’s AAPI Heritage Month, there’s no better time to get to know him than right now in the first volume of his solo series, New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China.
As you might imagine, New Super-Man Vol. 1 is Kong's introduction to the DC Universe at large, so the story focuses largely on establishing exactly who he is and how he got his powers. And, well, who he is…is kind of a jerk! We meet Kong at the start of his journey and find out pretty quickly that he's arrogant and a bit of a bully, not the sort of person anyone would really want to trust with Kryptonian-style powers. But as Kong promptly learns following an encounter with an even bigger bully than himself—Blue Condor, one of Shanghai's first ever super-villains—there's always a bigger fish out there ready to knock you down a peg.
Thankfully for everyone involved, Kong's encounter with Blue Condor starts him down a path that will change his life forever—and give him a much better, more altruistic outlook on things in addition to incredible new metahuman abilities.
Let's Talk Talent:
New Super-Man comes to us from the minds and pens of writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic, two incredibly heavy hitters in the world of comics and cartooning. You might recognize Yang's name from his other Superman-related stories, such as the phenomenal Superman Smashes the Klan, or his graphic novels like American Born Chinese (which just this very week debuted as a live action Disney+ show) and Secret Coders. There's a reason he's so prolific, and Kong is a perfect example of it. Yang's prose and dialogue are bright and relatable, even when Kong himself is at his most abrasive or obnoxious. Through it all he's still likable and fun and offers the perfect point-of-view to introduce all kinds of new concepts and ideas into the DCU.
Meanwhile, Viktor Bogdanovic gives New Super-Man a style that is at once instantly classic and stunningly new. Kong's design and colors take the idea of Big Blue's traditional look and run with it to make something entirely new, yet still Superman-like. The critical thing about New Super-Man is that it not only introduces Kong as a character, it establishes his whole world and his whole life in Shanghai, populating it with characters both new and old that all have to work and stand on their own to support him, and Bogdanovic's pencils dynamically get it done.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- Curious about the new DC characters who came to life during the Rebirth era? New Super-Man is a perfect first step into that period of time in the DCU. It requires no prior knowledge at all and will dovetail off into other stories both Rebirth-related and beyond.
- Or maybe you're an Action Comics reader and caught Kong for the first time there, during the Dawn of DC. If that's the case, you're in luck! You can start here at the very beginning to learn everything you could ever want to know about the latest member of the Superman family!
- New Super-Man is also an ideal title for anyone looking to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, or just read an authentically written AAPI superhero. Not only is Kong a Chinese hero himself, he eventually opens the door to a whole world of other Chinese superheroes who even have their very own Justice League. (Though you’ll have to stick with New Super-Man beyond the first volume to meet some of the members.)
- Kong himself is the perfect addition to the Superman family and you don't need to look much further than his introduction to see exactly why and precisely what sort of energy he'll bring to the table as Action Comics progresses!
Why It's Worth Your Time:
It's always fun to meet a new favorite character, especially one that slots right into the decades-long legacy and history of an old favorite character, and that's exactly what Kong Kenan does as the new Super-Man. His interesting spin on the familiar Superman mythology, his well-rounded cast of supporting characters, and his fun, playful (maybe even a little abrasive) attitude all make him a joy to read about. New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China is the perfect book to sit down with if you're hungry for a story with all the vibes and atmosphere of cape-and-cowl adventure with plenty of surprises along the way.
Mason Downey writes about comics, movies and superhero history for DC.com. Look for more of his work on GameSpot, IGN and Polygon and follow him on Twitter at @rustypolished.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Mason Downey and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.