Comic Review: Superman Smashes the Klan #1 (DC Comics)

In an interesting combo of retro and revival, DC brings us part one of Superman Smashes The Klan, in issue #1. The origin of this story (it’s not so ‘secret’ […]

In an interesting combo of retro and revival, DC brings us part one of Superman Smashes The Klan, in issue #1.

The origin of this story (it’s not so ‘secret’ since it’s explained by Gene Luen Yang in an article in this comic) is a 1946 Superman radio serial, where Superman battles the Klan. The Ku Klux Klan are terrorizing an American Chinese family who have moved to Metropolis. Writer Gene Luen Yang refreshes our knowledge about the Klan’s American origins, the white supremacy they stand for, and how popular culture helped the Ku Klux Klan regain a foothold in the USA after the cinema release of A Birth Of A Nation. It makes for fascinating reading.

The comic story itself is a well-paced, sensitive portrayal of one Chinese American family who relocate from Chinatown to Metropolis. Moving from Chinatown to the suburbs may not be so distant in terms of miles, but the culture shock is profound. Surrounded by (mostly) whites, the family find themselves a target of racists at home, in school, and everywhere in between.

The dialogue and scenes will likely ring true for both white and non-white Americans, although the story is tinged with nostalgia, limiting its ‘today’ relevance. Still, racism and ostracism is universal, and perhaps this retro treatment, in its seeming innocence, helps to keep the tale simple.

it’s early days for Superman. He has limited powers. He’s unable to fly (yet). This actually aids the story, I think. It brings ‘alien’ Superman, the idol of many, ‘down to earth’, if you want to say it that way.

The artwork by Gurihiru (a Japanese illustration team, consisting of Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano) bring an animation look to this first issue, a totally appropriate choice in style. It’s well crafted, the figures are wonderful and the colouring is consistently tasteful and easy to navigate.

DC, Superman Smashes The Klan #1 (of 3), $7.99 for 80 pages. Teen

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!