Superman Smashes the Klan – Gene Luen Yang, Writer; Gurihiru, Artist
Ray – 10/10
In 2019, DC released a unique project from author Gene Luen Yang and artist Gurihiru. Originally solicited as a graphic novel for the DC Zoom line, Superman Smashes the Klan was eventually released as three oversized issues bimonthly. What looked like an intriguing Superman period piece revamping a classic radio serial from the character’s early years turned into one of the best DC books released in years.
Set in the aftermath of World War II, Superman Smashes the Klan pits a young Superman against the remnants of the Nazi regime and exposes him to Kryptonite for the first time. This causes odd side effects that force Superman to confront his alien nature for the first time, at the same time as anti-immigrant sentiment rises in the aftermath of the war—particularly against Asian-Americans.
The second, and more personal story for writer Yang focuses on the Lee family as they move to Metropolis and try to settle into a new city far away from the Chinese immigrant community that’s supported them. With a father looking to impress at a new job, a mother struggling to fit in due to the language barrier, older brother Tommy excited to use his baseball skills to impress the local boys, and timid younger sister Roberta worried about where she fits in, they’re a classic American family dealing with a move—but a much darker element of America is waiting for them.
Superman Smashes the Klan is the definition of an all-ages comic, delivering something for every corner of the audience. It’s more intense than most members of the DC Zoom line, sending its characters up against real peril and not pulling any punches when depicting the evil and terrorism of the Klan. It also does well by many Superman supporting cast members, particularly Lois Lane and the rarely-seen Inspector Henderson.
In fall 2019, I looked at Superman Smashes the Klan in-depth issue by issue, and you can find those reviews here, here, and here. But for now, I once again give it my highest possible recommendation. Enjoy these images from the just-released graphic novel collection below.