Review: New Super-Man #1

I’ve checked out nearly all of the new DC titles. Obviously, if you follow the site, I haven’t reviewed them all and if you follow the podcast, I haven’t talked about them all. The simple fact is that I haven’t enjoyed them all either, but really that’s to be expected of any new launch. It’s incredibly rare to get a reader that reads it all and likes it all. Outside of The Flash, New Super-Man is the first book I’m really excited for… and I didn’t think I would be. Sure, I had faith in Gene Luen Yang because I’ve read his other work, but I’ll totally admit that I was scared to check out his work on Superman before “Rebirth.” What this had going for it was the fact that he convinced DC to let him make a Chinese Superman and that alone was groundbreaking and interesting enough to check it out.

NSM_Cv1_dsAfter a few pages though… I felt like I was reading my first DC Comic ever. You know what I mean. Actually… you probably don’t. Do you remember the first DC Comic you ever read? Probably not, neither do I. I know one of the first ones I ever read and it was right after Jason Todd died. Sure, kind of a dark issue, but up until then I had only read some Marvel comics. Suddenly I could see the clear distinction between the two companies and it was magical. It was always like this, you could read a DC book and it would feel like a DC book and vice versa with Marvel. With the New 52 DC stopped feeling like DC.

Because DC was fun! DC had Plastic Man, a grown up Robin who sometimes dated a former Batgirl in a wheelchair. I mean when you really think of all the ridiculousness of comics a lot of it comes from DC and that’s okay. Because it’s fun. It’s strange and different and you can’t get that anywhere else. Where else will you find a character called Mister Msyzptlk whose entire gimmick is to make you, make him say his own name?

What does any of this have to do with New Super-Man (pay attention to the hyphen!)? I got that same sense of joy from reading this. This is something that Yang could have very easily have done on his own. He could have made a Chinese Superman and never said that it was Superman because countless indie comics do it all the time. And it doesn’t have the same effect unless A) you’re a talented writer (think Mark Millar) or B) you can actually create the story at the publisher that owns the character… well, Yang is definitely A and got to do B.

The story is an origin story, but our main character, our future Super-Man of China is nothing like Clark Kent. And that’s fine by me. No one wanted to see a carbon copy version of Clark Kent because that be a disservice to everyone. Gene created a character. A new character for DC and made him flawed, gave him a tragic background and even managed to set his story in China without getting political. Everything Yang did with the story was meticulously thought out and paced wonderfully.

Of course this is a comic so it’s a collaborative effort and that means that Viktor Bogdanovic (pencils) and Richard Friend (inks) get a lot of the credit as well. Bogdanovic’s designs are diverse and different from what you’ve seen from a DC Comic. For the most part, no one in the book looks like a superhero. They’re just average looking people going through life. Bogdanovic’s facial expressions are really what’s in tune with Yang’s writing style and really an extension of Yang’s own art. I for one enjoy the fact that I’m seeing more and more inkers on comics again. Inking is to film, what digital art is to digital in the film industry. I don’t know how to explain that better so enjoy that SAT style of statement. The answer is “B”, the algorithm no longer favors “C”. Basically inking gives a comic a certain look and while most people can’t really tell from looking if it was digital or not, at the end of the day it does give it a different vibe. A classic vibe.

New Super-Man is one of, if not the best DC Rebirth title I’ve read. As I said on this week’s podcast, I want to support the hell out of this book so that I can continue reading it for years to come. Yang and the rest of the creative team have delivered the first truly different first issue from “Rebirth” and that alone had me excited. This issue gave me hope that with Rebirth, DC can go back to being DC and not worry so much what the rest of the industry is doing. Be DC, just like Kenan is going to be Super-Man.

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New Super-Man #1
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Penciler: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inker: Richard Friend
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital