Superman Smashes The Klan, announced at the beginning of last year, initially as a part of the DC Zoom line-up aimed at middle grade readers, is Gene Luen Yang‘s long-awaited and anticipated stand-alone pairing with the art studio Gurihuru. The comic will finally see its debut this October.
Yang, since winning his the Eisner for Best Writer in 2015 for his work on The Shadow Hero and Avatar: The Last Airbender, has had a long-running relationship with DC – first working on a run on Superman during the DC You era alongside John Romita Jr. and Howard Porter, his critically acclaimed (and wonderful) New Super-Man series, and has recently taken over as the writer on The Terrifics with Stephen Segovia. And while his newest solo work, Dragon Hoops, is his other major project coming at the turn of the new year, this new work with the Man of Steel that’s sure to grab a lot of attention this Fall.
Here’s the pitch from DC, which illuminates the inspiration from the concept, which keen-eyed Beat readers can tell, has its own place in Superman history:
Superman Smashes the Klan launches Oct. 16, with the first of three 80-page perfect bound issues. The collected edition of the story will be released in 2020. DC’s official solicitation for the first issue is below, followed by artwork from the issue.
“The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis’s Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman!
“While Tommy adjusts to the fast pace of the city, Roberta feels out of place, as she tries and fails to fit in with the neighborhood kids. As the Lees try to adjust to their new lives, an evil is stirring in Metropolis: the Ku Klux Klan. When the Lee family awakens one night to find a burning cross on their lawn, they consider leaving town. But the Daily Planet offers a reward for information on the KKK, and their top two reporters, Lois Lane and Clark Kent, dig into the story.
“When Tommy is kidnapped by the KKK, Superman leaps into action — with help from Roberta! But Superman is still new to his powers — he hasn’t even worked out how to fly yet, so he has to run across town. Will Superman and Roberta reach Tommy in time?
“Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial ‘Clan of the Fiery Cross,’ Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) brings us his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan.”
Our friends at THR this morning shared an exclusive interview with Yang on the new title, as well as a peek at a number of gorgeously rendered pages. It’s a meaty read, particularly when discussing Yang’s theories about Superman as an allegory for the immigrant experience. But this quote, that dives into the concept of tolerance that the work is driving at particularly resonates:
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.
Beautifully stated. Superman Smashes the Klan will see its first issue hit stores on October 16th. Here’s some of what you can expect on the inside: