I’m so grateful for the chance I had to read and review this wonderful graphic novel! I was up way too late reading it—I couldn’t get enough!
Title: Superman Smashes the Klan
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: DC Zoom
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Genres: MG Sci-fi Adventure
I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan?
Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) and artist Gurihiru (Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Unstoppable Wasp) bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong.
- The art is so fun! The bright colors and emotion-filled characters was so eye-catching and fun to read. It felt like classic Superman art that will appeal to present-day kids.
- Roberta’s relationship with her brother and parents was really well written—sometimes there are communication issues, sometimes they don’t all have the same pov—but the love shown for each family member was warm and beautiful.
- The addition of a secondary character whose uncle is head of the Klan was interesting, and I loved how his character arc developed alongside Roberta and Tommy.
I loved that this book includes recognizable characters such as Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and others, as well as includes new characters such as Roberta and Tommy Lee. I became immediately attached to Roberta and her journey as she learned to stand up for herself and do what’s right even if it’s hard. I loved how the author portrayed her anxiety. I believe a lot of kids will relate to her. The depictions of familiar characters are pretty classic, such as Lois Lane’s wit and in-your-business attitude—it made me love her even more.
The depiction of Superman in this story is poignant, in that it treats Superman as an immigrant from his home planet to Earth. I’ve never thought about this connection before. He struggles to come to terms that he isn’t just MORE than human, but that he isn’t human at all. Seeing Roberta help him accept himself was so sweet—I loved their friendship.
There are some scary depictions of things that the Klan of the Fiery Kross does, but I don’t think it would be too much for kids. In fact, I think it will bring about healthy discussions about racism in families that are understandable for kids.
This story is based on a radio serial from the 1940s, which I didn’t know until after I’d read the book. The back of the book includes an author’s note with history about Superman, history about racism in the USA before and after the 1940s, and some snippets of his own childhood when he dealt with racism. It was insightful and a welcome addition to the graphic novel.
I loved this book. A lot. Even after this review, I can’t quite put into words how much I enjoyed this book. It’s message is powerful and beautiful. I’ll definitely be purchasing this book and recommending it to anyone and everyone.