I’m going to take a brief break from the manga reviews. This time I’ll be reviewing something from DC Comics.
Writer Gene Luen Yang and Artists Gurihiru bring us one of the best Superman tales in some time. Superman Smashes The Klan is a modern retelling of the classic 1946 Radio Serial titled ‘The Adventures of Superman‘ a sixteen-episode story titled The Clan of the Fiery Cross.
The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis. While Dr. Lee is eager to begin his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to the famous superhero Superman!
Tommy adjusts quickly to the fast pace of their new neighborhood, befriending Jimmy Olsen and joining the baseball team, while his younger sister Roberta feels out of place when she fails to fit in with the neighborhood kids. She’s awkward, quiet, and self-conscious about how she looks different from the kids around her, so she sticks to watching people instead of talking to them. While the Lees try to adjust to their new lives, an evil is stirring in Metropolis: the Ku Klux Klan.
The Klan targets the Lee family, beginning a string of terrorist attacks. They kidnap Tommy, attack the Daily Planet, and even threaten the local YMCA. But with the help of Roberta’s keen skills of observation, Superman can fight the Klan’s terror, while exposing those in power who support them-and Roberta and Superman learn to embrace the unique features that set them apart.
Superman Smashes the Klan began as a bi-monthly comic book miniseries. The story took place during a crucial time in history after World War II when Superman was fighting the last remnants of the Nazi Regime and is exposed to Kryptonite for the first time. It also caused him to hallucinate due to the side effects, it forces the Man of Steel to confront his alien heritage for the first time. It was also a time when anti-immigrant sentiment rose in the aftermath of the war—particularly against Asian-Americans.
The second part is where Gene Luen Yang’s writing shines while following the story at hand. He focuses on the Lee Family’s moving to Metropolis, far away from the Chinese Immigrant Community that supported them. Mr. Lee has a new job and wants to make a good impression. Then there is his wife, Mrs. Lee, who is struggling to fit in due to the language barrier. Their eldest son, Tommy wants to play Baseball with the local boys, and Roberta, who is Tommy’s timid little sister is worried about not fitting in with the other kids. While they adjust to a new life in Metropolis, there is a darker element of America that awaits them.
The artistic team Gurihiru was a great choice for the story that Gene Luen is trying to tell, their artistic mashup of contemporary Japanese manga and the reminiscent of Fleischer Studio’s take on Superman was something that helped the book stand out.
Superman Smashes the Klan is truly a story that is worth checking out. It has everything that a reader could ask for, a great story filled with Action, Drama, Suspense, and of course, fun! It is also filled with facts that are not only from the Radio Serial that it was inspired by but provided facts from books such as Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate, and The Chinese in America: A Narrative History.
The story put its characters up against real threats and doesn’t dare to pull any punches when it depicted the evil and terroristic nature of the Klan. To be honest, this is a story that is still relevant to this day. Racism is still one of the biggest problems in America today, we need to take a page out of Superman’s book and stand up for what is right. Superman Smashes the Klan is available where ever books are sold, and available on DC Infinite.
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