I’ve never been a huge Superman fan, although I’ve enjoyed a fair few releases over the years. This sort of god like character always benefits from someone coming at it from a fresh angle, and ‘Superman Smashes The Klan’ does just that.
Author Gene Luen Yang sets the story during Superman’s early days, when he was still unable to fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, and addresses this as well as the fact that he’s a stranger in a strange land.
The story is centred around young Tommie and Roberta Lee, whose family moves from Chinatown only to encounter horrendous racism from the Klan Of The Fietry Cross, who are basically the KKK with a different badge. Superman gets mixed up and of course we all see that racism is bad (m’kay) and it’s what’s inside that counts.
Whilst the sentiments of the 230 page story (originally released in three parts) are basic stuff, it’s the telling of it that counts, and Yuen Lang does a superb job in that department. He’s aided by Gurihiro on art, which is the name of a Japanese illustration team. Whatever they’re doing works very well, as the manga-esque cartoony vibe really suits the story and time setting. Even though it’s quite a long book, this never gets boring, and the interplay between characters is compelling throughout. It’s billed as a Teen book, but absolutely anyone could read this, with it only not being suitable for younger readers due to racist terms and actions which aren’t shied away from (and rightfully so).
An excellent starting point for any young fan of comics, but also a great read for the older fan, “Superman Smashes the Klan” is a winner in every way. The collected editionends with a perconal essay by the author as well, which is well worth a read as it detauls the rise of white supremacy and the coming of Superman in America.