A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops, American Born Chinese) and illustrated by Gurihiru, is a graphic novel set in 1946. The story follows the teen Lee children as they move from Chinatown to Metropolis and face off against the Klan, getting some help from Superman. Fight scenes are bloodless. There's no sex, swearing, or substance use.
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What's the story?
As SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN opens, it is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Chinatown to Metropolis. Roberta wants to fit in, but her athletic older brother, Tommy, has an easier time of it. One night, hooded figures set a burning cross on their lawn. It's the work of the Klan of the Fiery Kross, and the incident is investigated by ace reporters Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson, as well as by Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police. Superman helps out, but he's troubled by visions of himself as a frightening alien creature. When Tommy goes missing, who will help Roberta rescue him?
Is it any good?
Depending on the whims of their creators, superheroes are highly changeable, and this bighearted historical tale makes perfect use of an American icon. Writer Gene Luen Yang and illustration team Gurihiru bring postwar Metropolis to exuberant life in Superman Smashes the Klan, with deft characterizations of new or familiar supporting cast members and an inviting, manga-influenced art style. There's been a long debate whether the Man of Steel is too much a Goody Two-shoes, but Yang finds an unbendable center of goodness in the character that makes him stand up for the underdog.
The graphic novel also explores Superman's status as an immigrant, giving the book a welcome sense of relevance. Longtime fans will be pleased, and newcomers will enjoy this retro adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Superman Smashes the Klan addresses the issue of racism. How does it portray members of the Klan? How do white nationalists try to spread their messages today?
Superman Smashes the Klan was originally a radio series. How can different media be used to tell particular stories? What kinds of effects do a graphic novel allow?
Why are superheroes so popular in current entertainment? What connections do they have to ancient mythology?
- Author: Gene Luen Yang
- Illustrator: Gurihiru
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Superheroes, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: DC Comics
- Publication date: May 12, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 20, 2020
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