New Chinese Super-Man Story Shows How Far America Has Come Since 1937

In March of 1937, DC, then known as Detective Comics, released its first-ever issue — and boy, was political correctness not a thing back then.

Ching Lung, who graced the cover as one of the comic giant’s first villains, was a character devised to reflect, and play on, America’s fear of Chinese and Asian immigrants at the time (this was a time before, if you consider, the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act.)

“[Ching Lung] is a Chinese super genius bent on taking over the Western world,” Gene Luen Yang, the creator of the buzzed-about Kenan Kong, otherwise known as the Chinese New Super-Man, told PRI. “He is an image that essentially denigrates and dehumanizes an entire people.”

With Kong, of course, Yang has helped put a fresh Asian face to one of pop culture’s most iconic superheroes. And now he’s out to rewrite the story by pitting Chinese Super-Man and the Justice League of China against a comeback of Ching Lung in issue No. 8 of “New Super-Man.”

Yang feels the villain would fit right into DC’s Rebirth era, which at its core goes back to “embrace the history of the DC universe,” according to the Washington Post. “If we really want to embrace who we are as Americans, we have to look at both the good and the bad and the pretty and the ugly of our history,” Yang told the Post, calling the reintroduction an act of “reclaiming … DC’s past.”

"New Super-Man" Issue No. 8, 2017. (DC Comics)
“New Super-Man” Issue No. 8, 2017. (DC Comics)

Yang, careful to avoid depicting the character in a new form as a so-called “yellow peril villain,” opted, with artist Billy Tan, to stick to a near-exact visage of Ching Lung, complete with slanted eyes and a cap.

“The purpose is not necessarily to kick up old stereotypes as it is to comment on them,” Yang told the Post. “My hope is at the end of all of the storyline, the entire long arc that deals with Ching Lung, that a reader will be able to see it as both a comment on the past and evidence of how far we’ve come. … [After beginning with a yellow-peril villain], DC has taken its most important symbol, the Superman S, and stuck it on a Chinese character.”