WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS up to New Super-Man #18
The New Super-Man of China is about to meet a new kind of threat in DC's comic universe - the Aquaman of North Korea. It's hard to say which half of that title is the more compelling or complicated to tackle, but one thing is for sure: the comic book publishers experimental step into Asia with their New Super-Man is following its own path by now. The creation of a Chinese superhero in DC's Rebirth was only the beginning of an entirely new world of Justice League heroes. But with the introduction of North Korea's society and government into the story, things could be heating up (in more ways than one).
Readers of the series are already facing a major change - even beyond the New Super-Man's new yin-and-yang-themed chest symbol. What was one the title comic of DC's New Super-Man is becoming New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, confirming that the Chinese versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash aren't just supporting heroes anymore.
Brave as they are though, the coming arrival of a North Korean metahuman with Aquaman's powers is a challenge they've not yet faced. Either physically, or politically.
What makes this tease of coming conflict so explosive is that as of the most recent issues, Kenan Kong and his Justice Leaguers are no longer operatives of the Chinese government. They're seeking their freedom to do heroics their way, allowing them an even greater role in DC's Universe than the Chinese Green Lantern Corps created to replace them. So when the next adventure involves a metahuman making a straight line for China's shores, and the North Korean military following close behind... the New Super-Man and his teammates may be heading into a diplomatic nightmare.
Before we cover the details and teased story of his debut, check out the first image of the "Aqua-Man of North Korea" by artist Philip Tan below:
The character will be making his debut in the series dreamed up by Gene Luen Yang this February, in New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20. The storyline, titled "Seas of Change" sounds like the nationality of the Aqua-Man wasn't chosen at random. Promised to be a "a new metahuman that will change everything" in the official solicitation, Yang seems to once again be blurring the lines between the super-identities of East-Asian citizens and their national identities as well (by now one of his signature talents in the world of capes and cowls).
With Kenan Kong and his fellow heroes shaped by Western identities, it seemed poetic for them to strike out on their own, more independent sensibilities. Poetic, too, that their replacements should be a more militaristic, state-sanctioned "Corps" of Green Lanterns. But the idea that this Aqua-Man should be accepted with open arms when he arrives pursued by "a fleet of North Korean warships" seems like a fantasy.
North Korea is not China. And from the looks of the cover art for Issue #21, this new Aqua-Man is no new Super-Man. Whether the character is friend or foe, and whether his home country agrees... that's the story that's got our attention.
New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #20 arrives February 14, 2018.