There are big changes coming to Superman in DC’s Rebirth event. First off, he’s dying. Then he’s being replaced by, err, well, the old Superman (it’s a long story). But it also seems that on his way out Superman’s powers will be split among a whole host of people — and one of them is a young man from Shanghai. The star of Gene Luen Yang’s upcoming series New Super-Man, Chinese hero Kenan Kong won’t just be a Superman with a hyphen in his superhero name. However, choosing the new Super-Man’s civilian name was the most challenging task for Yang.
In an extensive new article for DC’s website, Yang covers the lengthy process of deciding Kenan’s (pronounced like “Keh-nahn”, rather than “kee-nen”) name, from making it authentically Pinyin Chinese, to deciding on something that could easily draw parallels to Clark Kent and, at one point, having to change it entirely from Kenji Kong, just in case readers assumed he was Japanese.
It’s a really fascinating insight into how Pinyin works, and Yang’s approach to writing a character who’s culture and upbringing is so important to them. It’s well worth a read at the link below. You can get to know Kenan a little better when The New Super-Man begins in July.