Writer: Gene Luen Yang / Artist: Gurihiru / DC Comics
The best Superman stories are supposed to evoke hope. Hope for a tomorrow that is better than today. Hope that we are capable of becoming better ourselves. Hope that even throughout all of the uncertainties that life has, we’ll get through. And the conclusion to Superman Smashes the Klan is very much hopeful and very much, in fact, one of the best Superman stories that one could ask for.
As discussed during my review of Superman Smashes the Klan #1, this story is Yang’s adaptation of an old 1940’s radio play, and the passion that Yang has for both the source material and character is brilliantly evident. Every author has to reinvent pieces of Superman’s origin story in order to fit the era, and Yang’s clever use of a circus strongman is a very poignant way to start the final chapter of the story. Watching a young Clark Kent realizing that he is in a unique position to help the people around him grow to eventually busting through a wall to stop a Klan analog is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
However, the true brilliance of the story comes with how Yang utilizes the supporting cast to help flesh out what it means to a hero, and what it means to rise up. Roberta’s conversations with Superman are poignant and show that sometimes children can see and understand things on an intuitive level. Watching Lois Lane take an interest in Roberta’s personal/professional growth shows that you don’t need superpowers to make a difference. We see Tommy trying to make peace with his rival and eventually see that sometimes people can see the error of their ways. All of the threads coalesce perfectly with each other creating this touching, heartfelt story.
On top of all of that, Yang also leverages the camp of 1940’s sci-fi conventions to craft a story that feels right of that era with all of the modern sensibilities you’d hope from a 2020 reboot. It’s a homerun in more ways than one.
The artwork from Gurihiru is nothing short of incredible with animated expressions, perfectly captured moments of action, and iconic panels that will endear the characters to any reader. Chiang’s lettering also does a massive amount of work making both the dialog and sound effects memorable, truly bonding the written and visual elements together wonderfully.
I’ve always loved Superman, but Superman Smashes the Klan reignited that love in a very particular way. There was catharsis. There was joy. There was a moment at the end I damn near wept over, because it was the perfect way to end the story, and I’ll leave it at that. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Superman or know a kid who you think would love comics, you should get the complete series the next time you see it. It’ll be money well spent.
10 “Citizens” out of 10