'The character started speaking to me,' Yang tells EW

By Will Robinson
Updated July 30, 2020 at 12:20 PM EDT

Gene Luen Yang is giving Superman a brand new dimension.

The writer told EW’s Tim Leong during EW’s Con-X on Friday that he’s working on a new DC Comic that features a man in China gaining a part of Clark Kent’s powers. Yang didn’t pitch to DC — they sought him out — but he was initially skeptical of the idea.

“But then the character started talking to me, and when a character starts talking to you, you know it means something to you,” he said.

The new Superman isn’t the nicest of guys at first, in line with early Man of Steel depictions. Yang’s story will focus on the evolution and maturation of the new hero. “With my own stuff I try to express myself,” he said. “With Superman and characters based on existing properties, I try express something that is core to that property.”

Yang is one of the most respected figures in YA. The Library of Congress named him the Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in January, and his 2006 graphic novel American Born Chinese raked in award after award. He’s making a concerted effort to add a diverse, nuanced image to the medium.

“The appeal of superhero comics is about two things at once,” Yang told Leong. “They’re all about the future — Superman was ‘the man of tomorrow’ — but they’re also about the past, about nostalgia.”

“When I got into comics, they were mostly about heterosexual white dudes,” he continued. “We are creating archetypes for which people in the future will have nostalgia over.”

Yang is working with illustrator Mike Holmes for his newest graphic novel in the Secret Coders series — Paths & Portals — out Aug. 30.

Con-X is a four-day getaway in Embarcadero Marina Park North in downtown San Diego. Made for all fans, Con-X allows anyone to get a taste of Comic-Con for free with panels, Q&A, trivia, music, screenings and more. Con-X runs through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. PT.

— Reporting by Jeff Jensen

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.