Superman Fights Against Racism in the Timely ‘Superman Smashes the Klan’ – Review
Superman has always been seen as a beacon of hope and justice. This is something that has made his character a staple for decades and in Superman Smashes the Klan, it’s no different. Set in 1946, the graphic novel follows the Lee family who have moved from Chinatown to Metropolis for Dr. Lee’s new job at the Metropolis Health Department. However, not everything in the bustling city is great for Dr. Lee and his family.
While Tommy seems to make friends fast, his sister, Roberta, isn’t so lucky. But that isn’t the only challenge that the Lee kids and family face. As the family is adjusting to their new home, they are the victims of a hate crime orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan and it doesn’t stop there. The terrorists then kidnap Tommy, attack The Daily Planet and threaten the local YMCA. Roberta has to act fast to help locate her brother. Of course, she’s not alone. Superman is along for the rescue!
Written by Gene Luen Yang with art by Gurihiru, Superman Smashes the Klan is one of the best Superman tales to-date. While the book falls into the category of middle-grade, the graphic novel is certainly one that any of all ages can enjoy and appreciate. It depicts a story that is both harrowing and hopeful. The book importantly depicts the KKK and their terrorism of minorities, not shying away from the very true reality that people of colour face at the hands of white supremacy day-in and day-out.
I was glad that this depicted, even in a book that is meant to be for a middle-grade audience. These are things that I was glad that this depicted, even in a book that is meant to be for a middle-grade audience. These are things that children need to be taught and that older people need to be reminded of because this is the reality that many people go through. While the book is set in the 1940s, reading it in 2020, shows that unfortunately not much has changed. Yang even touches upon the biases that people of colour have toward other people of colour; specifically shown in a scene where Dr. Lee gets angry at a group of Black men who try to help the Lee family after the Klan attacks their home.
That being said, Superman Smashes The Klan manages to inject hope into a heartbreaking situation. As Roberta and Superman join forces to help uncover the whereabouts of her missing brother, Tommy, the pair discover new things about themselves and learn to accept their differences. Ultimately, both Roberta and Superman learn that the things that set them apart are elements of themselves that should and need to be embraced. Watching both characters come to this conclusion is the hopefulness that can be found within the graphic novel and a true testament to the message that this book puts forth for its readers.
In Superman Smashes The Klan, Yang finds a great balance between allowing the children in the book to be just that, while also interspersing the very real prejudice that the Lee family faces. With important lessons to show and a hero whose fight for truth and justice is even more present while he’s fighting white supremacy, Superman Smashes The Klan is definitely a worthy and important read for any Superman fan.
Watch the trailer for Superman Smashes The Klan below:
If you enjoyed Superman Smashes The Klan, be sure to check out some of DC’s other middle-grade and YA graphic novels.