Tag: gene luen yang

Superman’s Battle With The KKK That Reflects The Times

It’s safe to say these are extraordinary times; with levels of racism and xenophobia climbing with each passing day, we’re looking for a hero to aid us. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, but this year definitely hits differently given the horrible discrimination Asian communities have been facing during this pandemic. However, perhaps the hero we’ve been looking for is Superman? In a recent adaptation of the 1946  Adventures of Superman, there’s a storyline called “Clan of the Fiery Cross” in which we see the Man of Steel facing off the KKK.

 

Image via Twitter

Not only does the legendary hero unmask these villains as ridiculous bigots, but the comic is centered around an Asian family. Superman Smashes the Klan is an adaptation of the original story line written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by the Japanese art team Gurihiru. Yang, the author of such acclaimed graphic novels as American Born Chinese and Dragon Hoops, admits to Entertainment Weekly his fascination with a Chinese-American family being at the center in the original tale. He states,

I feel ambivalent about a Chinese-American family being the center of the original story because the circumstances around that aren’t super-awesome. But this retelling gave me a way of exploring all of that.

 

 

Image via SyFy

The Lee family’s struggles to fit in a mostly white neighborhood is extremely relatable. Also, it’s not lost on me that Superman, an immigrant in his own right fights back against the Klan. I think the KKK has found their match; get Superman Smashes the Klan today.

Gene Yang’s ‘Superman Smashes the Klan’ Gets a Release Date!

Superman is our greatest superhero for good reason. His acts of heroism exist not only in the pages of comics or on the big screen, but in reality from time to time. After all, he once dealt a major blow to the Ku Klux Klan back in 1946.

 

 

The Adventures of Superman radio show was a hit in the 1940s and became an unexpected platform for combating the KKK. Activist Stetson Kennedy provided the show with inside information on the organization after attending meetings undercover. The show then included the information, which comprised of code words and sensitive details on the KKK’s activities while depicting Superman’s stand against the organization’s crimes and injustices. Membership and recruitment was reportedly reduced significantly as a result.

 

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, MacArthur Genius Grant winner, Eisner Award winner, and previous Superman writer Gene Luen Yang will be writing a three-part comic series based on the inspiring true story.

The Hollywood Reporter released preview pages and the description for Superman Smashes the Klan:

 

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?

 

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

 

Yang elaborated on the impact of the ‘Clan of the Fiery Cross’ arc, describing the radio show’s effect on the real world injustices of the time and the effect it had on Superman’s development into an American icon. Few writers have captured the goodness beneath the Man of Steel the way that Yang has in recent years, and the positivity that ripples from the hero’s triumphs.

 

One of the things about the Superman radio show, and the original version of this story, is that it actually comes relatively early in Superman’s career. He was first published in 1938, and the story was broadcast around 1946, so that’s just eight years, and he was already a worldwide phenomenon. And especially in America, he was wildly popular. But I do feel that the Superman that we all know and love today, he wasn’t quite formed yet [at that time].

There were still pieces of him that were being solidified. And as much as the radio show impacted the real world in terms of bigotry and racism, it also helped shape Superman’s character. It was at this point where Superman really did become a symbol of American tolerance, American justice and American hope.

 

Superman Smashes the Klan arrives October 16th.

 

Featured Image via The Hollywood Reporter