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.

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“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:

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. I pitched this story – an adaptation of the radio show story – ti DC Comics back when Mike Carlin was the editor-in-chief. I’m delighted to see the story is finally being adapted to comics. It’s an important tale from the days when comics weren’t political at all. I laugh with considerable glee.

  2. Looks nice. I’m not a fan of cartoony art but it’s great to see something that actually tells the story without words. But…

    “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.”

    …I kind of think the folks in Britain who lived through the Blitz, the French Resistance fighters, the Russians who died on the Eastern Front, and the Americans who spilled their blood on the beaches of Normandy were all motivated largely by their own nationalistic instincts and shouldn’t be lumped in with the Nazis, Mussolini’s Italy, and imperial Japan.

    Yang is quite correct that we all tend to forget the lessons of history. But that “we” also includes him.

    Mike

  3. If Twitter likes could be spent to buy things DC would be rich! Unfortunately they actually need money for that, something this split up one-shot will not be making much of. Shame they don’t have the testicular fortitude to handle modern hate and terrorist groups, instead having to travel back in time 80 years to find their irrelevant and harmless boogeyman.

  4. Mike, your bad-faith reading of yang’s comment merely impeaches your character – there’s no reason to believe he was implicating the particular nationalist cultures you’re defending, just because he didn’t take the time to #NALT each of them specifically in the middle of the conversation. Indeed, that quote seems to be referring to the Axis powers, since his ” not just America” indicates his targets were cultures in contrast to America.

    That said, are you talking about the Americans who perpetrated what they intended to be a revenge race war against Japan (just look at their propaganda) but who thankfully limited themselves merely to imprisoning rather than exterminating innocent Japanese here in the US (knowing full well there was no military justification for their internment, since japanese in hawaii were allowed to go free, where the danger of espionage would have been greatest)? Or perhaps you are referring to the Russians who in their hour of victory perpetrated the mass rape of German women and children as a measure of revenge against the German people? Or the French resistance who murdered women for the crime of treason via sexual congress with Germans, regardless of the extent to which that sexual congress was consensual? Or perhaps you mean the British who were repressing India even as they nominally fought for freedom in the broader world? How ironic for you to falsely accuse yang of forgetting the lessons of history, given your own historical illiteracy, or selective (that is, dishonest) reading of it.

    As for you, hijackthemic, if you’d bothered to read the article you’d know yang is addressing modern terrorists, by writing about their predecessors. He’s writing about the white nationalist terrorists who you support but lack the testicular fortitude to defend openly, terrorists who currently pose the foremost threat to western civilization (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, study up on what’s going on in eastern Europe). Pretending that the klan back in the day, and their modern descendants, are “harmless” merely confirms that you are one of the baddies – one of the people superman opposes. Not that you’re honest enough to admit that to yourself.

  5. I am very interested in collecting this book. My only criticism is from the preview illustration why are there no African American characters that Supes is standing up for? Will those characters be presented in the book later?

  6. Superman was never an allegory for immigrants in the hands of his creators as he did not even know he was an alien until many years into his career as Superman and as an adult, and when he found out he was an alien the only way it was important to him was that it explained why he had powers. Superman’s sense of self, morality, worldview, the costume, the S shield, the will to do right, etc., all come from being Clark Kent, not Kal El. As far as he is concerned, Kal El is a non entity.

    Originally, being an alien was just the excuse for the powers, nothing else. Superman only became an alien because publishers thought Siegel & Shuster’s original origin was too silly. Originally, Superman was a highly evolved human sent back in time as a baby from earth’s last days before its destruction, there he was found by the Kents and raised by them. The concept of a highly evolved man from the future was changed to a highly evolved man from Krypton at the last minute, and the rest is history. The over emphasis on the alien aspect only began in the Silver Age… people who categorize Superman as an alien pretending to be human instead of a human with alien powers have missed the point of his characterization. Yang does this to stretch the character to accomodate himself rather than what actually makes sense for the character.

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