Ever since I saw Superman Smashes The Klan #1 was announced, I have been SO hyped. I loved the idea of bringing such an important piece of history back into the limelight, and also to a potentially new audience – as sadly, it is still relevant. Racism still happens, perhaps not always at this level, but it still happens.
The cover of the comic is just straight up iconic. We see Superman hoisting that famous green car above his head yet again. I’d like to think this is a reference to the cover of Action Comics #1, but I can’t be sure. The art style is very different to what we usually see within a Superman comic book, even on a cover – it’s very anime style, and it just works. The interior artist Gurihiru has really created something special here. As soon as I saw the cover, I know this book was going to be powerful.
The variant cover by Kyle Baker has a very “classic children’s book” vibe to it. This certainly feels like something you would have gotten on the front of a lunchbox back in the day. This art style seems so timeless, I really like it. The joy of the children, Superman himself and even Krypto just radiates off the cover, and I love that. This is what Superman is all about, and Kyle Baker has captured that perfectly.
This is one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a long time, it’s a direct adaptation of ‘The Clan of The Fiery Cross’ episode of The Adventures of Superman radio series from 1946. The series follows an American-Chinese family – The Lee’s – as they move from Chinatown to Metropolis. The focus is around the young daughter- Roberta, and how she copes with the big move, specifically from being among others that look like her and share her culture, to being more of an outsider and being different to those around her in Metropolis.
Whilst I personally didn’t ever go through that level of racism in my lifetime, I do know what it’s like to be different. I grew up in a city where it was rare to see people of colour. Now, it isn’t so bad, but back in the day at my school I was one of few, sometimes in my class I was the only one. This book brought all of these memories back, not in a bad way – but it’s nice to see this kind of thing represented within something I love – comics. It also gives you a chance to see how things have positively changed.
Sadly, like I said racism is still relevant and still happens which just baffles me. So this story is an incredibly important one. I feel that in today’s society people say things when they don’t really know what it means, or how much it can affect someone. I feel like this is reflected so well in this book. One of the characters – Chuck – is unknowingly led astray by his Uncle who constantly spits hate, and simply renames it or justifies it as ‘protecting their soil’. This then leads to Chuck regurgitating that same hate and things he had heard from his uncle when he doesn’t really mean or understand what those things are or what they mean. The only way he realises that it’s wrong is when his idol, Superman defends Chuck’s enemies.
This is why featuring issues like this within famous character’s story-lines is incredibly important. It helps to teach those young audiences what’s right and wrong, and I will say this – they are more likely to listen to their favourite character than their parents! It’s just a great way of getting them to understand what’s right and what’s wrong.
The way that this story is written is great, it is cleverly done so that a range of audiences and readers can enjoy it. Although there isn’t too much background of the “Klan” shown in the issue, or why it’s relevant to Superman as of yet, it certainly is a brilliant start. There were parts where I was a little shocked at some of the comments that were made against The Lee family, but that only added to the realism of the book. People still say these kinds of things. Like I said many times before, this is just a great way of re-telling a horrific piece of history. It has the opportunity to remind people of what happened, and potentially teach new audiences about that horrors that used to take place.
The artwork in this is absolutely fantastic. Gurihiru really brought this story to life. There are fantastic action sequences, and cleverly designed panels which really help audiences understand the intensity of the situations that the Lee’s find themselves in. I love the fact that the art style is very anime, it helps make the book more readable and accessible to younger audiences. Not to mention, it really animates the book and brings it to life. Although the artwork is very cartoonistic, you can really see and feel every emotion that the character has and that really is a skill and that really adds to the affect that this book has on its readers.
I absolutely adore the Superman suit in this series – a real throwback to the Fleischer series. It’s perfect. There are also some Superman references, that I don’t think we have ever seen or heard before – the fact that Superman hates the smell of Kryptonite. We all know what the radioactive rock does to him, but I don’t believe the smell of it has ever been references – I may be wrong though.
Superman Smashes The Klan #1 is incredibly powerful and emotional. It highlights just a fraction of the horrors that real people went through, just because of the colour of their skin. I love that this horrible piece of history is resurfacing, as it gives younger readers a chance to learn about this era and horror, but it also just acts as a reminder.
I cannot wait to read the next part to this story, it really has found a place in my heart. It is already one of my favourite Superman adventures. Do I really have to wait until December for the next part?! I cannot recommend this book enough.
Haven’t picked up your copy of Superman Smashes The Klan #1 yet? You can pick up the standard cover by Gurihiru here (UK), and here (US). Or if it’s the variant cover you prefer, you can pick that up here.