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 #6 closed out the series’ opening Made in China arc this week. Writer Gene Luen Yang and penciller Viktor Bogdanovic capped off Kenan Kong’s initial adventure with a father-son team-up for a superpowered aerial battle. T. Kyle King, who covers all DC Comics starring heroes wearing an S on their chests for ComiConverse, brings you this review.
New Super-Man #6 Review:
Super-Man and the Justice League of China! Flying Dragon General and the Freedom Fighters! August General in Iron and the Great Ten! Genetically modified Starros! Hijacked aircraft aimed at Zhongnanhai! A teen hero channeling Kal-El’s life force! What more could you possibly want from a superhero comic than this?
New Super-Man #6 Synopsis:
Given the power to control minds by Dr. Omen’s genetically modified Starros, Human Firecracker and the Freedom Fighters have taken over a China Southeast flight and turned it into a missile aimed at the Chinese national government center in Beijing. Although Bat-Man, Wonder-Woman, and Lixin Luo are among the passengers, the Great Ten are given authorization to destroy the airplane.
Super-Man and Flying Dragon General join forces to board the flight. Aided by Mingming’s advice, Kenan recovers some of his powers, and, once he and his father are on the plane, the young hero uses extreme cold to free the passengers from his uncle’s control. The Freedom Fighters and the Justice League team up to turn back the Great Ten’s aerial assault. The plane is landed safely, but not without casualties, and Baixi and Deilan agree to help Kenan learn the truth about his mother’s fate. In her secret Shanxi Province laboratory, Dr. Omen hides further surprises.
New Super-Man #6 Analysis:
It is becoming difficult to find superlatives sufficient to describe this wonderful series, and Made in China — Conclusion is, if not the best issue yet, certainly the one that fits all the pieces together cohesively to provide a satisfactory resolution to its introductory storyline. Such minor details from earlier installments as Kenan picking on Lixin, Mingming counseling Kong on aligning his intention with Superman’s qi, the homework assigned to the Justice Leaguers, and the title character’s crush on Laney Lan all assume some degree of significance in New Super-Man #6, in which Yang makes certain every one of Chekhov’s guns is fired with pinpoint accuracy… right down to the omnipresent octagon, as Kenan Kong’s efforts at attaining alignment and balance place his powers at the center of an enveloping bagua.
This ingenious visual device is but the latest exhibition of the exceptional unity of storytelling purpose between wordsmith Yang and the graphic arts team of penciller Bogdanovic, inker Richard Friend, and colorist Hi-Fi. As always, the artwork is stylistically distinctive and displays equal aptitude for portraying physical humor and heroic action — and the collaborators once again employ a fresh weapon from their arsenal, this time by adding novel ferocity and powerful pathos to the high-impact confrontation pitting Kenan and his father against his uncle. Letterer Dave Sharpe makes his presence felt, as well, effectively earning his paycheck in a single page with an earnest “UNFOLD!” and a quartet of “SLAP!”s.
New Super-Man #6 never slows down, but the breakneck pace of the tale never threatens to carry the story off the rails. Yang’s methodical plotting proceeds steadily, neither allowing the adventure to lag nor letting events become rushed, and the characterization remains central and consistent. The multiple players’ motives are comprehensible, their personalities are sincere, and their words are heartfelt. Relationships have genuine depth, individuals experience actual growth, and even the villains have unselfish principles. With apologies to Folding Paper Man, none of the myriad of characters in Made in China — Conclusion is two-dimensional.
Superhero comics, like science fiction, offer inherent opportunities for allegory (albeit often with mixed results). New Super-Man #6 completes a unique and wholly successful effort at making the medium the metaphor. Yang has given Superman’s powers to a new person from a different culture in another country while making Kenan Kong’s ties to Clark Kent explicit. Flying DC Comics characters in capes saved airplanes in the films Superman and Superman Returns and in the television series Supergirl. Kenan’s conversation with his father aboard the aircraft their heroics have protected admirably acquaints us with two flawed human beings who together suss out what it means to be Superman, and their discussion does so with an elegance that would be hard to match by having Kal-El be one of the participants.
Every superhero comics fan should be reading this series, period.
Now that the book’s opening arc has been completed, were you satisfied with Made in China — Conclusion?
Align your intentions in the comments and ComiConverse with us about New Super-Man #6!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
This fast-paced, well-plotted, and character-driven issue brings the series’ excellent opening arc to an entirely satisfactory and emotionally moving conclusion.