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The New Superman is Chinese

A new Superman comic book series by DC Comics is coming out. No Clark Kent this time, but teenager Kenji Kong – a young Chinese superhero with a Japanese name.

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A new Superman comic book series by DC Comics is coming out. No Clark Kent this time, but teenager Kenji Kong – a young Chinese superhero with a Japanese name.

It is no secret that the superhero DC and Marvel comic book universes are not as ethnically diverse as the real world. There have been few well-known Chinese protagonists in the superhero cosmos. At the moment, most of the Chinese characters found in the DC and Marvel comics universe are either a supervillain or a supporting character. For many comic book readers, the most memorable Chinese character in the comic book universe is the Chinese supervillain Mandarin from Iron Man.

The comic book universe generally lacks characters with a Chinese background, or Asian characters at large. But over the past decade, the comic book world has been creating more characters that would be more appealing to Chinese audiences. In 2006, DC made their way into the hearts of Chinese comic book readers with the fourth super-hero Atom, hero Ryan Choi of Hong Kong origin. Unfortunately, Ryan Choi only appeared in 78 issues before being erased from the DC universe by assassin Deathstroke.

ryanchoiSuperhero Ryan Choi is from Hong Kong.

Hoping to attract a larger fan base within China, DC seems to have taken an even bolder step by giving the mantel of “Superman” to a Chinese teenager. A Chinese Superman with a name that sounds more Japanese than Chinese.

According to NBC News, DC recently announced a new comic series called New Superman at WonderCon 2016. DC Comics tweeted about the upcoming comic series on March 29. It will be written by Chinese-American Gene Luen Yang (杨谨伦) and illustrated by Victor Bodganovich.

Yang is famous for writing the award-winning 2006 graphic novel “American Born Chinese”.He went on to pen many other well-known graphic novels including Level UpBoxer and Saints and Avatar: The Last Airbender. More recently, Yang wrote the last 10 issues of Superman.

The story in New Superman will be about a 17 year-old teenager named Kenji Kong (孔恳记). The story of Kenji Kong will be different from that of Clark Kent, the original Superman. Unlike Clark Kent, Kenji is born on Earth with no superpowers, but then inherits Superman’s powers when he is a teenager. Another big difference is that New Superman will take place in the real city of modern-day Shanghai.

According to South China Morning Post, Yang has stated that Kenji will “start off as a jerk”, but then matures as his new-found superpowers affect him both physically and emotionally.

DC has not made it clear if Kenji Kong is intended to appeal to Chinese audiences. The introduction of a Chinese Superman can be seen as part of an ongoing movement in the comic book industry that sees to create more multi-cultural superheroes. The newest incarnation of the Incredible Hulk, for example, is of Korean descent.

There has already been some scrutiny over New Superman on social media sites and discussion boards around the web. “I love this. But why is a guy from Shanghai named Kenji? It’s a Japanese name,” commented @YuanSerenaP on Yang’s Twitter account.

“Does he understand China? He’s not afraid of being criticized?” one other netizen said on Sina Weibo.

The first issue of New Superman is set to be released on July 13, so there is still time for Yang to make some improvements. Let’s just hope that Kenji Kong will be just as awesome as the original Chinese SupermanSuper Inframan (中国超人).

sprman1975 movie on kung-fu superhero Super Inframan

By Chi Wen

Images:
– featured image tweeted by DC Comics.
Hong Kong hero Ryan Choi

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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Chi Wen is a freelance translator and writer who lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Besides translating and writing, he also teaches English as a Second Language to high school students. Chi is a self-proclaimed geek with a love for video games.

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    Guest

    April 8, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Not sure what’s the focus. “Kenji” isn’t used here as a given name, so the Japanese association is invalid. Instead, it is clearly used as an Anglicized forename, eg. “Sherlock” Holmes, “Homer” Simpson, “Remington” Steele, etc. In fact, it’s already a relatively familiar choice among overseas Chinese: 3 Taiwanese celebs (吳克群, 陈子胤, 林学楷) adopted it; ditto some Hong Kong commoners I’ve come across. There is even a fairly well-known hairstylist duo in Singapore called Benji & Kenji. If they want, DC comics can profile “Kenji Kong” as, say, a 21st-century Westernized descendant of Confucius (Kongfuzi).

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China Celebs

Iconic Shanghai Singer Yao Lee Passes Away at the Age of 96

Yao Li, one of the seven great singing stars of Shanghai in the 1940s, has passed away.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese singer Yao Lee (姚莉), the ‘Queen of Mandarin pop,’ passed away on July 19 at the age of 96.

The singer, with her ‘Silvery Voice,’ was known as one of the seven great singing stars (“七大歌星”) of Shanghai of the 1940s.

For those who may not know her name, you might know her music – one of her iconic songs was used in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Yao’s most famous songs include “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (玫瑰玫瑰我爱你), “Meet Again” (重逢), and “Love That I Can’t Have” (得不到的爱情).

Yao, born in Shanghai in 1922, started singing at the age of 13. Her brother Yao Min was a popular music songwriter.

When popular music was banned under Mao in the 1950s, Hong Kong became a new center of the Mandarin music industry, and Yao continued her career there.

On Weibo, the hashtag Yao Lee Passes Away (#姚莉去世#) already received more than 200 million views at time of writing.

Many Chinese netizens post candles to mourn the death of the popular singer, some call her passing “the end of an era.”

“Shanghai of those years is really where it all started,” others say.

Listen to one of Yao’s songs below:

By Manya Koetse

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China Comic & Games

“Darkest Day in the History of Animation”: Kyoto Animation Arson Attack Trending on Weibo

The devastating arson attack at Kyoto Animation has shocked Chinese anime fans.

Wendy Huang

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Chinese anime fans are mourning the shocking arson attack on the Kyoto Animation Studio.

An arson attack has left at least 33 people dead and dozens injured at the Kyoto Animation Studio. The attack, that occurred on the morning of July 18, has shocked anime fans in China.

Approximately 70 people were inside the three-story Kyoto building when multiple fires broke out around 10:30 in the morning (local time).

As reported by BBC, a 41-year-old suspect broke into the Kyoto Animation studio on Thursday morning and sprayed petrol before igniting it.

The man reportedly shouted ‘go die’ when bursting into the studio. The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. The case is currently under investigation.

Image of suspect given out by Japanese media.

On Chinese social media, the Kyoto Animation Studio (also known as ‘KyoAni’) went trending on Thursday.

Many Chinese anime fans offered their prayers to those who lost lives or faced injury at the deadly attack and expressed anger at the arsonist. Others initiated the setup of donation channel to support the Kyoto Animation studio and the families of the victims.

On Weibo, popular literary blogger ‘Guo Maimai’ (@知书少年果麦麦) published a long post about the Kyoto Animation’s work as an independent studio, commenting: “This is the darkest day in the history of animation.”

He further added: “The gravest consequence of this fire is not the loss of the original works or the building, but the loss of the talents who have been trained for such a long time.” 

At time of writing, the post was reposted nearly 60,000 times, receiving over 7000 comments. The hashtag “Darkest Day in Japan’s Animation” (#日本动画最黑暗的一天#) also took off afterward.

Chinese cartoonist ‘Feizhaizhi’ (@我是肥志, 2.66 million followers) wrote: “All the original works have been destroyed! All their efforts, their dreams, and now even their lives are gone!”

To express his grief, the cartoonist changed his Weibo profile into a gray one.

Bilibili, China’s leading online platform to distribute Japanese anime, also changed its anime website to grey.

The Kyoto Animation company was established in 1981 and has produced anime ever since (‘anime’ refers to a style of Japanese film and television animation typically targeted at adults as well as kids).

KyoAni’s high-quality animations, including TV series and films, are known for often featuring highschool girls and becoming big hits.

From ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,’ Kyoto Animation

Japanese comics and animations have been hugely popular in China since the 1990s. Even today, Japanese productions are usually more popular among Chinese anime fans than domestically produced works (read more).

Despite the outpouring of support for the Kyoto Animation studio, some Weibo netizens did not show sympathy and made anti-Japanese comments in light of the history of the Sino-Japanese war.

Others, however, would not accept such comments in these tragic times, writing: “Kyoto Animation has been such a good companion during our childhood..Why can’t we support the companion of our childhood?”

Another person wrote: “I will never forget the history, just like I will never forget the memories of my childhood created by Kyodo Animation.”

By Wendy Huang

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