Superman Smashes The Klan – 5 star review

This story was originally told during the radio broadcast episodes of Superman during the 1940s. I’m not a die-hard comic fan, and I’m pretty new to the DC fan base. However, Superman has won a high spot in my heart after reading this graphic novel! I devoured Superman Smashes the Klan from start to finish. We follow a Chinese American family that is moving from Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis. The main characters are the Lee children, Roberta and Tommy, who experience racism from a fellow peer while getting connected within the new neighborhood. The Lee family quickly becomes a target for Klan hatred with a climatic event that involves the help of Superman. The illustrations and panels were presented well and contained beautiful imagery. There are moments when the Lee family slips into Chinese dialog within the family unit & I thought the way in which this was on on the page fascinating.

“If you learn enough secrets about a place, it becomes home.”

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang

I was extremely impressed at the flow of the plot and even the addition of a subplot regarding Superman’s personal struggles. The author wove in page breaks that served as flashbacks to Superman’s own elementary years of discrimination and shame for being different than other kids. We see him cope with his own identity and gain insight to how he embraces his full spectrum of superhero powers. This story shows hatred that flourished in our country during 1946, but it also highlights the power of community and unity among all people – regardless of religion, race, or color. The messages within felt organic and didn’t come through as a forced agenda. Humor was tactfully woven throughout and the early scenes of Roberta not shaking hands with people because of germs seriously had me cracking up! 

I especially LOVED the 10 pages supplied at the end of the story that shared not only the history of Superman, but US history as well. I learned more about discrimination against Chinese Americans, the multiple risings of the KKK, the connections between Superman and how the media fought racism in early America, and so much more. After reading that historical context I was even more impressed with Superman Smashes the Klan and how well the story followed historical references. If you read this graphic novel and fail to read these pages at the end, then you’d be doing yourself a major disservice. 

“We are bound together by the future. We all share the same tomorrow.”

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang

This is a fantastic book to read for kids, teens, and adults. My 11-year-old son gave it 5 stars and he and I had some fantastic conversations about this ugly part of US history (I’ll post his comments below). DC has officially converted me as a major fan for Superman! Superman Smashes the Klan is available now at stores near you! 

Thank you, DC, for offering me a free copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. All images are used with permission from DC.  

Reviewed by Coco

T – 5th grader review: I’d give this book 10 stars, but my mom says 5 is the max so I’ll give it 5. To be fair though, I love DC, so I’ll probably give anything they make 5 stars. This book was epic. I loved the page break flashbacks that told Superman’s history and his family. I liked the illustrations more in this book than Gotham High because they felt more realistic and the colors were easier on my eyes. I laughed at several of the funny parts and the fight scenes were epic. 

D – 4th grader review: Coming Soon

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