cover image Superman Smashes the Klan

Superman Smashes the Klan

Gene Luen Yang, illus. by Gurihiru. DC Comics, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-77950-4

When the Chinese Lee family moves from Chinatown to the Metropolis suburbs in 1946, siblings Roberta and Tommy face overt and subtle racism as they settle into their new community. While Tommy joins a local baseball team and uses self-deprecating remarks to make friends (referring to his family as “wontons” to his white peers), Roberta struggles to fit in. Yang (Dragon Hoops) manifests racism variably and authentically—one of their father’s colleagues implies that the family eats dog, and things escalate: the Klan of the Fiery Kross (a KKK analog “motivated by love—love of our nation”) sets a cross ablaze in the Lees’ front yard and threatens to drive the family away. Adapted from a 1940s radio drama, the story draws clear parallels between the Lee’s Chinese family and Superman’s interstellar one; as Superman discovers his heritage, he gives Roberta the confidence to embrace her identity. Japanese artist duo Gurihiru’s style blends manga-esque features with a western approach, creating a hybrid aesthetic that captures Superman’s larger-than-life presence and renders baseball as exciting as high-octane fare. Engaging back matter reveals helpful context about immigrant families in America (including Yang’s own) and the history of white supremacy. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. [em](May) [/em]