Super-Man, Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man just might be adding a new member to their Justice League — and yes, all those hyphens are intentional. The North Korean-raised Ahn Kwang-jo seems to be on his way to becoming the Aquaman of China.
Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man series for DC has slowly been assembling a new Justice League of China — the series’ name has even recently changed to New Super-Man and the Justice League of China. Yang’s career as an award-winning cartoonist has been framed by his own experience as the American kid of Chinese immigrants, and New Super-Man is no different. Through the experiences of a new generation of Chinese superheroes, the comic regularly brings up plenty of China’s modern culture clashes. Yang has also used the series to confront and reinvent some of the DC Universe’s racist relics — characters like Ching Lung (a “Yellow Peril” villain on par with Fu Manchu, Ming the Merciless and Marvel Comics’ the Mandarin), who appeared in Detective Comics #27, Batman’s debut issue; and I Ching, a blind martial arts master named for the influential ancient Chinese text.
There’s the series’ main character, Kong Kenan, an irresponsible Shanghai teen who spontaneously develops all the powers of Superman; Wonder-Woman, secretly a Chinese mythological figure; Bat-Man, star pupil of an elite Chinese prep-school designed to create a Batman for China; and even China’s own Flash: Avery Ho, a Chinese-American teenager who was one of many granted access to the Speed Force during an incident in the Flash’s home of Central City.
And now, Ahn Kwang-jo, who we meet when he is pulled out of class at the Rajin University of Marine Transport for possessing a television modified to receive transmissions from outside of North Korea. It seems that Ahn likes to watch The Simpsons.
But what happens next is anything but funny, as agents from the Workers’ Party proceed to give him a punitive beating. Somewhat understandably, Ahn has been sweating profusely during his ordeal, and gouts and splashes of water spring out of him as their fists connect, until eventually there’s enough to cover the floor of the interrogation room, and ...
... two giant crab monsters emerge from the puddle to save him.
The next we see of Ahn, he’s on the back of a giant crab, scuttling across the North Korean border and into Hunchun, China, before the amazed eyes of the Justice League.
True, nobody calls Ahn Kwang-jo Aquaman — or Aqua-Man — in the issue. But given that the comic is called New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, and Ahn appears to have the ability to create pools of water that produce monstrous fish servants, it feels like a safe bet.
Welcome to the Justice League, Ahn Kwang-jo.