Superman Smashes the Klan, and It’s Glorious

author img
BY July 11, 2019

Superman Smashes the Klan. That is just a beautiful title on its own. And no, it’s not some other Klan. It’s that Klan. The Ku Klux Klan. And Superman is going to smash them. It’s already the best comic coming out in the next year and we’ve only seen the title. So, end of article. Superman Smashes the Klan starts this October. Buy it.

Superman Smashes the Klan
So much awesomeness in one cover! (DC Comics)

Okay, so maybe we should discuss it a bit more. The series, just to make it that much better, is part of DC Zoom’s lineup of middle-grade comics. And Eisner-winning author of American-Born Chinese Gene Luen Yang, a brilliant YA graphic novel is the man behind the smashing of the Klan. So, how did this definitely-going-to-piss-off-sad-puppies begin?

Superman Smashes 1940’s Klan Too

Superman radio!
(DC Comics)

Back in the 1940s, there was a beloved Superman radio series, and one of the most infamous episodes was “Clan of the Fiery Cross.” Remember, this was a radio program for children, and even during a time of segregation, we were teaching children that the Ku Klux Klan is an evil organization that needs to be, well, smashed. Much different than where we are today. What’s wonderful is that Yang is writing Superman Smashes the Klan as a period piece, set in 1946, when the original episode debuted.

The Super Kids Smashing the Klan

Superman Smashes the Klan
That’s what happens when you attack a metaphor for Moses! (DC Comics)

Superman Smashes the Klan follows the Lee family, who move away from Metropolis’s Chinatown to the heart of the busiest city in the DC Universe. But for the two children, Roberta and Tommy, it’s great news: they’re closer to Superman’s domain than they’ve ever been before!

Of course, things go south (pun intended) when the Ku Klux Klan starts growing in Metropolis. And one day, the Lee family wakes up to a burning cross in their front lawn. Shortly after that, the KKK kidnaps Tommy, and it’s up to Roberta and Superman to find him!

Another wonderful aspect of this story is that Superman will be much younger, and closer to his golden age abilities. That means he hasn’t yet learned to fly, and has to run through the city to find Tommy.

The Other Superhero Smashing Intolerance

Captain America Smashes Hitler
Punching Nazis since 1941 (Marvel Comics)

The comic “fans” known as the “sad puppies,” say that they hate how comics are now “politically correct” and all about “social justice warriors.” (Sidebar: when your best insult to people who want equal representation is to call them “warriors” you’ve already lost the argument.) Here’s what they’re forgetting: comics have always been political. Captain America was always a bleeding heart liberal. In fact, the famous cover of Cap punching Hitler in the face came out a year before the U.S. declared war on Germany, and was actually quite controversial.

“Today, this would be like putting Vladimir Putin or somebody on a comic-book cover and vilifying him,” Marvel editor Tom Brevoort said in an interview with the Washington Post. “Hitler was then a standing world leader with an impressive military machine behind him and a number of sympathizers in the U.S. So make no mistake about it: Had this been something that genuinely angered the real Hitler, he most likely possessed some apparatus to strike back against Simon and Kirby, and even Timely as a whole.”

Superman has Always Smashed the Intollerance

Cap wasn’t alone. Superman was fighting alongside him, in spirit even if not on the page. In fact, the 1940’s radio program also called Superman the “Champion of the Oppressed.” And in one of the late 1940’s movie serials, Pa Kent tells his adopted son not to fight for “truth, justice, and the American Way,” but for “truth, justice, and tolerance.”

However, the best example of Superman’s fight against racism is from a 1949 textbook cover distributed to classrooms across the country. Now, keep in mind, this is five years before schools were integrated. DC Comics later re-rendered the image:

Superman Smashes the Klan

The Legacy of Liberalism

I would definitely wouldn’t be on the side without Superman. (DC Comics)

Both Marvel and DC released comics this month with heavy political messages, in Lois Lane and The Punisher. This should not be shocking. They’ve been doing this for 80 years. Superman was always a metaphor for immigrants. Batman was always, essentially, a socialist, using his wealth to protect all of Gotham, regardless of wealth or poverty. The X-Men were always a political-charged franchise. Black Panther wasn’t just the first Black superhero, he was African royalty and had such genius that he outsmarted the Fantastic Four. More importantly, he wasn’t a “brute” as media portrayed Black men in that time and today still.

And Wonder Woman? She was created by William Moulton Marston, who was secretly in a polyamorous relationship with two women, and a feminist himself. Though problematic at times, Marston’s main objective was to show the strength of women. He’s quoted saying “Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

Even Villains Stand Against White Supremacists

Yep. When Joker met the Red Skull, and found out he was an actual Nazi, he was repulsed.

When you disgust Joker, you should reexamine your life. (DC Comics/Marvel Comics)

A Global Significance

Superman Champion of the Oppressed
Superman protecting undocumented immigrants. (DC Comics)

Intolerance, of course, is not exclusively American. And even though Superman Smashes the Klan takes place in America, against an American hate group, Yang notices its global importance. As he said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter:

It’s not just America. You read the news about Europe, India, or the Philippines. I started this project because I thought it was something that I needed to understand. There’s a Chinese tradition that you use the events of the past as a way of talking about the present; I did come onto this project thinking about that, thinking, if I can understand the historical context that there was something about the present that I’d understand a little bit better.

One of the things that came out of this — we’re at the tail end of the third and final book right now, as we speak; I’m just about done with the revisions — and one of the things that I’ve learned is that the world learned something about tolerance after World War II. Not just America; all of us learned something about tolerance. World War II was the worst nationalistic instincts of the world come to a head — the worst instincts of our species had manifested themselves pretty much everywhere in the world. And then, this Superman story, which arrived a year after the war ended, was primed to convey the lessons the world had learned to a younger generation.

I just think that, maybe we’re so far removed from that period that we’re beginning to forget those lessons. That was the impression that I got.

A Smashing Return

Superman Smashes the Klan
Punch that White Supremacist, Superman! (DC Comics)

Superman Smashes the Klan carries on that tradition, and boldly so. It’s once again a politically charged superhero story specifically aimed at all ages. There is definitely going to be complaints about this, and how DC shouldn’t be preaching to children or showing a liberal bias (when did smashing the Klan become a liberal bias?) Yang is celebrating this history with his new series. And when the series debuts in October, the first of three 80-page perfect bound issues, everyone should support it. And if you have children, this would make an excellent first comic.

COMICSDC

Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.

Leave a comment

Related

DCTV Shows
SDCC: Supergirl Wears the Pants in the CW DC Universe House Now

The CW had plenty of news during SDCC this weekend, from Supernatural, Flash, Black Lightning, Arrow, Batwoman and, of course, Supergirl. The characters are going through some major changes soon, especially with Crisis on Infinite Earths hitting their shared Universe. And it looks like Supergirl is not only going to survive the big CW event, […]

BY Roman Colombo July 21, 2019
COMICSDC
Lois Lane and the Hard-Hitting Question(s)

Superman might be the most powerful hero in the DC Universe, but that doesn’t mean he’s capable of everything. Sometimes you need someone close to the ground, not wearing a costume, to uncover the evils in the world. And that just happens to be Superman’s wife, Lois Lane. She has a secret—one that might be […]

BY Roman Colombo July 5, 2019
DC
Three DC Comics to Read in March

DC has been on a roll with some of its more popular IPs. The Justice League series from Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez has a great finish to its current storyline ready. A long form Harley Quinn piece is on the horizon. Not to mention, Event Leviathan kicks off. There are a lot of great […]

BY Taylor Bauer March 24, 2019
Inside Xbox: News from Gamescom 2019

Gamescom doesn’t have the following that E3 has. In recent years, however, it has grown into a big event for gaming news, trailers, and announcements. There are a lot of things coming from Gamescom 2019, and the Inside Xbox event really set the stage for an exciting week. Let’s break down each big moment in […]

BY Taylor Bauer August 19, 2019
History of Mario – Side Series Games

Mario is a busy dude. He’s constantly fighting off Bowser, and his 7+ kids, as he defends the Mushroom Kingdom from evil. What about his other adventures? It’s obvious that the mainline Mario games are a huge part of the iconic plumber. That being said, what happens in Mario’s other adventures? The History of Mario […]

BY Taylor Bauer August 18, 2019
The History of CD Projekt Red – Games and More

Ask any gaming critic or fan and they’ll tell you they can already foresee next year’s biggest release. Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be the biggest game of 2020. It’s no surprise the company behind The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is garnishing so much attention and anticipation. In fact, when the company announced an […]

BY Taylor Bauer August 18, 2019
Best Games of 2019 – First Half of the Year

We’re well into August, so it’s time to consider the best games of 2019 for the first half of the year. It’s been a somewhat quiet year so far. Although some games are still selling well, a lot of the heavy hitters are coming up in the second half of 2019. That means you may […]

BY Taylor Bauer August 14, 2019

Trending

Three Ways Kevin Feige Can Bring the X-Men Into the MCU

When the news broke that Disney purchased much of the 20th Century Fox entertainment business, fans rejoiced because it meant, finally, that Marvel can bring the X-Men into the MCU. Yet, this presents a problem. First, the X-Men already have an established shared universe. Though with Dark Phoenix now the lowest-grossing X-film ever, that shared […]

BY Joshua M. Patton August 20, 2019
Mindhunter Season 2 Review: The Downfall Of Following Reality

Mindhunter first released on Netflix in October of 2017. Fans became immediately intrigued by the true-crime series, created by Joe Penhall, with co-executive producers David Fincher and Charlize Theron. Loosely following John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, season one looks at the beginning of psychoanalyzing killers, […]

BY Meghan Hale August 19, 2019
Inside Xbox: News from Gamescom 2019

Gamescom doesn’t have the following that E3 has. In recent years, however, it has grown into a big event for gaming news, trailers, and announcements. There are a lot of things coming from Gamescom 2019, and the Inside Xbox event really set the stage for an exciting week. Let’s break down each big moment in […]

BY Taylor Bauer August 19, 2019
The 5 Best Original Anime Created Exclusively For Netflix

‘Netflix Original’ can mean a lot of things. So here is 5 orginal Anime content created exclusvely for the streaming giant.

BY Shah Shahid August 19, 2019