T. Kyle King is a lawyer, a former sports blogger, a panelist on the "Twin Peaks"-centric "Wrapped in Podcast", and a Superman guy.
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New Super-Man #7 rounded out a busy week for DC Comics' Super-books by opening a new story arc for Shanghai teen Kenan Kong. Writer Gene Luen Yang was joined by penciller Billy Tan and inker Yanqiu Li for Training Day: Part One. T. Kyle King, who covers all Kryptonian and quasi-Kryptonian superhero series for ComiConverse, brings readers up to speed on the latest issue.
New Super-Man #7 Review:
The Justice League of China completed its first storyline in the previous installment, so Training Day: Part One represents a transitional issue for Super-Man Kenan Kong, Bat-Man Baixi Wang, and Wonder-Woman Deilan Peng. Will the standout series succeed in maintaining its momentum as it heads in a fresh direction with new contributors to the creative team?
New Super-Man #7 Synopsis:
China is celebrating the Lunar New Year, but many remain on the job even during the holiday. August General in Iron confronts the Great Ten's government liaison in Beijing to express his outrage that the existence of the Crab Shell was kept from him. Dr. Omen stays at the Oriental Pearl Tower rather than take a few days' vacation. Even Kenan, determined to discern the responsible person for him to hold accountable for his mother's death, declines to take time off, preferring instead to follow Mingming's advice to seek training from Master I-Chingâ¦ with unexpected results.
After being recognized in Shanghai at a ceremony presided over by Lex Luthor and Laney Lan, though, Baixi and Deilan elect to spend the occasion with the former's family. However, they get more than they bargained for when they drop by the Academy of the Bat to pick up Baixi's younger sister, trainee Jiali Wang. Baixi is taunted by his old nemesis, Rongpei Feng, who maintains he was the more deserving contender to be the Chinese Bat-Man. The two duel for custody of the cowl through individual combat in the hard-light construct of the Academy's Gotham Arena. Sensing something is amiss during their Bat-match, Deilan goes off alone to investigate and makes a stunning discovery that may have come too late.
New Super-Man #7 Analysis:
Viktor Bogdanovic has been such an integral part of the series thus far that it initially was disconcerting to see him relegated strictly to cover duty for Training Day: Part One. Nevertheless, the more literally realistic look of New Super-Man #7 fits with the issue's focus on its protagonists' more mundane activities. Tan, the Malaysian artist most closely associated with DC's line of Green Lantern titles, and Li have little to convey in the way of large set pieces, but they use facial expressions and body language to good effect. Colorist Yanfeng Guo â who, like Li, hails from Kenan's native Shanghai â uses muted hues to create a more subdued mood.
It is noteworthy, of course, that the latest issue of this series set in China was the handiwork of a talent team consisting almost exclusively of creators of Asian descent, as one of the hallmarks of this somewhat unconventional Rebirth Super-book is its nuanced immersion in a distinctive culture generally unfamiliar to many Western readers. The Chinese Spring Festival forms the traditional framework for New Super-Man #7, while the decidedly modern censorship-subverting internet slang "grass mud horse" appears in an allusion to internal problems within the Academy. Upon meeting, Deilan and Jiali greet one another with the fist and palm salute.
Perhaps most notable, though, are the revelations regarding nomenclature: Training Day: Part One acquaints the audience with hitherto unknown background details concerning Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman, including their respective family names. Deilan, we learn in passing, "spent the last couple centuries stuck in a giant rock" â which, though it remains unexplained, may hint at her underlying mythology â and her surname (Peng) is the starting position of Master I-Ching's four-energy drill. Peng energy expands outward and is immovable without being rigid, attributes that are very reflective of Wonder-Woman's role as the Chinese Justice League's most steadfast and yet also most open-minded member.
Yang's scripts invariably contain such food for thought tucked just beneath the surface; an American reader of European extraction who does not spend time Googling after completing an issue is as apt to miss significant nuances as someone who eschewed David Foster Wallace's extensive endnotes when perusing Infinite Jest. Even at the most superficial level, however, New Super-Man #7 is an entertaining and lively read that ties the series directly into the mainstream DC Universe by including Lex Luthor as a connecting thread shortly after Kenan appeared in a crossover cameo in the follow-up to Grant Morrison's The Multiversity. Training Day: Part One is more of a bridge than a blockbuster, but what this issue does differently it continues, as always, to do exceedingly well.
Did Training Day: Part One leave you better prepared to proceed?
Align your qi with New Super-Man #7 and ComiConverse about the latest arc in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
The start of a new arc sees the series shift gears without losing momentum, as characterization is highlighted and nuances abound.