By waezi2 26 Comments
This is not just a comic about racism, it's about what a mess it is to try and fit in when you are a minority. Even when you are a white one.
The comic takes place in 1946. The two heroes of this tale is naturally Superman as well as the little Chinese-American girl named Lan-Shin Lee who has to deal with her new name "Roberta" since her dad wants the family to fit in as much as possible when they move from Chinatown to Metropolis. Mr. Lee got a great new job as a scientist in a fancy lab, and he wants his family to stick out as little as possible so they don't attract trouble. Roberta has great difficulties fitting in the new and mainly white neighborhood since she is rather awkward and misses Chinatown that she can't even visit due to her weak stomach that can't handle the bus ride. Her brother "Tommy" however has no problem with moving to Metropolis and even joins a baseball team, which makes it somewhat WORSE for Roberta who thinks her brother is kind of a "fake".
But Superman is in the story as well, and he has his own problems as a minority, even though he looks like a "real" American. Everyone assumes he is a human who somehow got amazing powers, and the last son of Krypton is not correcting them since he really want to be a part of the country. But he soon enough learns that he can't run away from his alien roots and must accept the fact that he is different, even MORE different than he thought.
Roberta and Superman meet because of the Clan of the Fiery Cross (*cough* KKK *cough*) who doesn't take kindly to a Chinese family moving into Metropolis. Superman must fight these racist son of bitches with help from Roberta, something that is challenging than expected.
This series has great art work as well as great characters. the Lee family is complex with Roberta who must face the fact that perhaps she is unconsciously fighting to NOT be comfortable in Metropolis, Tommy who finds it MUCH too easy to be one of the boys, Mr. Lee who is so desperate to appear "white" that he refuses to accept help when his family if attacked by the clan(especially since the chief of police if black), and poor Mrs. Lee who barely speaks English at all.
We also have the boy Chuck Riggs who at first looks like a regular racist douchebag... and he kinda is. After all, he is in the clan since his uncle is the "Grand Scorpion" of the clan. He loves his uncle for taking care of him and his mother and consider him a father figure. But Chuck also idolizes Superman, meaning he has to consider if his uncle's values are worth sharing.
And then we have Superman, the more or less ultimate American. Him being an immigrant is a facet of his character that has not been used enough. He has reached a point where he has to decide if he will keep pretending to be a white guy or embrace his background, something I can relate to a half-Persian who just so happens to have my mother's skin color. The story also plays with the idea that Superman moving from just jumping to actually flying being him suppressing his powers so he will keep looking like a very powerful but still human guy instead of a creature not of this world. We even get the origin of his costume and why it is great at hiding his identity as Clark Kent.
"Superman Smashes the Klan" is the best comic of 2020. It's a great Superman story, it is a great superhero story, it is a great minority story, it is a great anti-racism story, it is a great American story, it is just genuinely