T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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New Super-Man #10 both continued Kong Kenan’s visit to Metropolis and further explored the Action Ace’s new normality in the aftermath of Superman: Reborn. Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic delivered another exceptional issue in Coming to America — Part Two. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King reviews the groundbreaking series’ latest installment.
New Super-Man #10 Review:
New Super-Man #10 Synopsis:
Superman arrives just as the China White Triad launches its assault in an attempt to take the Ox-Horse Door Rings from Luthor. The three crimefighters with S’s on their chests — aided by the Flash of China, Avery Ho — fight back, but the struggle takes a turn when Kenan foolishly heeds Lex’s recommendation and re-opens the portal. Demons escape from Diyu and drain a portion of Superman’s qi, weakening him. In China, Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman discover Dr. Omen’s secret laboratory. They are surprised to find a static figure held in suspended animation, and they are unaware of who is watching them.
Luthor and Master I-Ching are trapped inside Diyu while the Supermen and the Flash fight to retrieve the rings from the demons. Kong at long last listens to Master I-Ching’s wisdom, activating a new power in the process. With the help of the guardians of the afterlife, Ox-Head and Horse-Face, everyone and everything — including the rings — returns to the proper side of the portal. Kenan receives a confounding revelation from Ox-Head and some good advice from Superman. When China White meets Ching Lung on the Macau Peninsula and asks about his appearance, he doffs his disguise to reveal his true identity.
New Super-Man #10 Analysis:
Regular series penciller Bogdanovic shared the inking chores for this issue with Jonathan Glapion, then colorist Mike Spicer put the high shine on the imagery of Coming to America — Part Two. The finished product was as vibrant and distinctive as usual. Bogdanovic’s Man of Steel combines Jim Lee’s bulky muscularity with Curt Swan’s clean lines, while the facial expressiveness and callow physicality of the youthful Kenan are becoming steadily more refined. New Super-Man #10 is populated by ancient mythological figures, 1930s comic book characters ranging from the classically iconic to the offensively stereotypical, and modern-day additions to the DC Universe, yet no one appears either inaccurately rendered or out of place. Visually, this issue is another winner.
The story moves quickly and is relentlessly kinetic in its energetic action, yet Coming to America — Part Two contains a wealth of depth and detail. Kenan’s internal monologue offers not only helpful exposition, but also keen insight and comic relief. The juxtaposition of Lex’s self-serving dissembling with Master I-Ching’s enigmatic wisdom allows the two influential figures to play off of one another effectively; the heroic dynamic between the title character and his Kryptonian role model in New Super-Man #10 — which ends, like their previous encounter, with the twosome sharing comfort food atop a fixture of the city’s skyline — is similarly satisfying.
In that vein, Yang’s dialogue routinely sparkles. Kenan’s sophomoric attempt at a double entendre falls flat when the Big Blue Boy Scout fails to take the bait, prompting the Shanghai teen to think: “I wait for the dirty joke… Of course it doesn’t come. He’s Superman.” Kal-El’s admonition to Kong recurs until the litany becomes a leitmotif. Lex’s unsuccessful attempt to open negotiations with the denizens of Diyu is hilarious on its merits, but his reference to “Bronze Age superstitions” recalls an era of moral ambiguity, which surely is a suitable allusion when Luthor tries to do business with demons. In the comic book’s closing scene, Ching Lung’s final lines to China White — with their mentions of history folding in upon itself and remembering what the world wishes to forget and “a superstitious and cowardly lot” — have meaning on multiple levels even before New Super-Man #10’s stunning page-turn reveal.
Despite its Western setting, Coming to America — Part Two is more replete than most editions of this series with legends and lore from Chinese culture. The door rings from the previous installment suggested Ox-Head and Horse-Face, but the gatekeepers to the netherworld did not appear before the mythical figures strode onto the scene in New Super-Man #10 with titanic size, glowing eyes, and glowering visages. In fact, the Eastern symbols in this issue sometimes are quite literal, as a Chinese character repeatedly appears from the mouths of Diyu’s demons. Even those of us not learned enough to decipher that particular aspect of Dave Sharpe’s lettering still will gain understanding from every other aspect of this story, which offered additional evidence that this is one of the most inventive, intriguing, and enriching comic books on the stands today.
Are you ready for what comes next after the illuminating discoveries of Coming to America — Part Two?
Follow your qi into the comments and ComiConverse with us about New Super-Man #10!
Why did I give this issue a 5? Because I couldn’t give it a 6.