A new Superman is flying into town. And he’s an Asian!
There is a massive shakeup in DC’s “Rebirth” story arc. The former Superman is dying and it looks like his superpowers will be split among a whole new host of people, thus forming new Supermen all over the globe. And one of them happens to be a Chinese 17-year-old teenager from Shanghai named Kenan Kong (孔克南).
Written by American-Chinese scribe Gene Luen Yang, the new Superman story will follow Kenan as he’s being shunned by his peers after obtaining his superpowers. According to Yang, the most challenging task was actually choosing a Chinese civilian name for the Man of Steel.
In a blog post on DC’s official website, the series writer revealed that he initially chose Kenji Kong but decided to change it to Kenan Kong to avoid readers assuming he’s Japanese. “There was a problem, of course. Kenji is a common Japanese name and this would probably cause some confusion. I was only thinking about how I’d make this character and his name work in the particular story I was going to write,” Yang wrote.
Yang eventually settled on Kenan after consulting his editors, comic creators and his parents. “Ke means ‘to overcome.’ What could be more Super-Man than ‘to overcome’? Nan means ‘south.’ Appropriate for a kid from Shanghai, since folks from Beijing like to call folks from Shanghai ‘Southerners’,” the writer explained.
Most DC Comics fans were pleased to see a character of a different ethnicity take on the mantle of Superman. In the meantime, you can get to know Kenan a little better when “The New Super-Man” hits the shelves this coming July.
Yang is hoping Kenan will be a fixture in the larger DC Universe. “He’s going into an 80-year-old toy box. Hopefully, my book won’t be the only place where he shows up. Hopefully, other DC Comics writers and artists will want to play with him,” he said.