Can I tell you a secret? I was never a huge fan of Superman. He seemed untouchable and so confident. That was, until I read Superman Smashes the Klan. I was excited for it because I love Gene Luen Yang’s work, so I knew I wanted to check it out. What I found was a delightful story with two strong characters trying to find themselves. Keep reading this book review to find out why I enjoyed Superman Smashes the Klan!
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 club 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 of 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 is able to fight the Klan’s terror, while exposing those in power who support them–and Roberta and Superman learn to embrace their own unique features that set them apart.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I have been such a fan of Gene Luen Yang’s work ever since American Born Chinese. So when I saw Yang’s name on this latest superhero comic, I knew I had to give it a chance! As I said before, I was never a huge fan of Superman. He seemed so put together, so confident, and so powerful. But in Superman Smashes the Klan I saw a new side of him. A man who was still figuring out who he was, what his origin was, and trying to balance a life of extremes.
The drawing style was wonderful, just what I’ve come to expect from Yang. And I loved how Yang brings in not only Superman, but the Lee family. They struggle with racism and it features the daughter, Roberta in the forefront. I love family stories. Superman Smashes the Klan felt particularly timely, even though it’s set in Superman’s past. Yang was able to balance a sense of the past by pulling in events and situations that feel relevant today. In Superman Smashes the Klan, there was a sleuthing story, but the true joy were in the characters.