If you’ve loved comics for the last 15 years, you’ve likely loved the work of Gene Luen Yang. The former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature has created stunning works of fiction including American Born Chinese, New Super-Man, and Boxers & Saints. His stories combine innovative formal cartooning techniques and deeply resonant themes to create singular works of fiction. And now Yang is back with his latest DC Comics work, Superman Smashes the Klan, written by Yang and illustrated by Gurihiru.
Debuting this October, Superman Smashes the Klan is a brand new work from DC’s kid-oriented line of comics. The story follows Roberta Lee and Tommy Lee, two siblings who move with their family to Metropolis in 1946. There, they encounter both Superman and the KKK.
Watch as Yang talks to the Beat about why his Superman story is rooted in the Asian American experience and what it means to craft a universal narrative through the lens of specificity.
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The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Chinatown to Downtown Metropolis. While Dr. Lee is eager to begin his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to the famous superhero Superman!
Tommy adjusts quickly to the fast pace of their new neighborhood, befriending Jimmy Olsen and joining the club baseball team, while his younger sister Roberta feels out of place when she fails to fit in with the neighborhood kids. She’s awkward, quiet, and self-conscious of how she looks different from the kids around her, so she sticks to watching people instead of talking to them.
While the Lees try to adjust to their new lives, an evil is stirring in Metropolis: the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan targets the Lee family, beginning a string of terrorist attacks. They kidnap Tommy, attack the Daily Planet, and even threaten the local YMCA. But with the help of Roberta’s keen skills of observation, Superman is able to fight the Klan’s terror, while exposing those in power who support them–and Roberta and Superman learn to embrace their own unique features that set them apart.
From multi-award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang comes an exciting middle grade tale featuring Superman.