New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #24 // Review
New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #24, by writer Gene Luen Yang, penciler Brent Peeples, inkers Matt Santorelli and Scott Hanna, and colors by Hi-Fi, concludes the series, and it is equally parts disappointing and satisfying. Previously, the team finally came together to fight off the Lantern Corps of China and save the North Korean Aqua-Man, Kwang-Jo, but Super-Man still feels the need to use the new mastery of his powers to try to save his mentor I-Ching from his ghostly fate.
First, the positives: Yang neatly wraps up a great, little series that had grown into one of DC’s hidden gems. At the end of the issue, Super-Man has a better understanding of his powers and the balance they require, and the team has bonded into a unit akin to a family. You know they will be fine, despite hanging plotlines, such as being wanted by the Chinese government, or unresolved issues between Kong and his parents. Will their stories continue in another book? It’s likely they will be used again somewhere, but getting another series that will explore them personally as characters seems too much to hope for. For now, Yang gives us the satisfaction of a happy ending.
Now, the negatives: this series is ending, and there is no justice in the world. Simply put, this book was the little engine that could. Yang really made a go of trying to find an audience, and to be fair, so did DC, even rebranding the series with “Justice League” in the title. Maybe it was too little too soon, or maybe readers were just unwilling to give a perceived knock-off of Superman and the Justice League a try. Either way, if you missed this one, you should check out the trades. At 24 issues, it’s a not overwhelming, and it’s an extremely self-contained story.
Peeples, Santorelli, and Hanna do a fine job on art in this issue, especially when the team gets pulled into the ghostly realm, coming up against dark, possible future versions of themselves. The designs of their darkest fears come to life are fun, and well-drawn, but it’s a shame Peeples still seems to be struggling with the specially-designed Yin/Yang S-shield. It is always inconsistent, sometimes even changing from panel to panel. Hi-Fi colors is the standout of the issue, though, as they even manage to make black and white seem electric in the ghost world. If only this story could have been stretched at least one more issue, just for the visuals alone.
In the end, this book might not have ever had a chance at an audience, no matter how much Yang and DC tried, but the company is better for having produced it. An all-Asian cast of characters written by an Asian-American is pretty much unheard of from the big two publishers, so it was nice to see DC do something that was a break from their norm. Even if it wasn’t a smash hit monetarily, creatively there was a unique story put out into the world with rich characters that will hopefully be absorbed into the fabric of DC’s universe and used for years to come. If you’re wondering where the cast might turn up next, look no further than the Geoff Johns-written mega event, Doomsday Clock, where they were listed as part of China’s newly-expanded super team, The Great Twenty in the most recent issue. Hopefully, Johns has even further plans in the works for them there.