Superman Smashes The Klan is an amazing take on Superman’s influence in the world. In this story, we see Superman take on a different kind of enemy. Unlike Darkseid, Brainiac or Doomsday, or other external enemies. The villain of this story at heart is a social evil that is a part of our social system and daily lives. The social this story elaborates on is “Racism”. And the group that is responsible for the propagation of this social evil to every corner of our society is the “Ku Klux Klan” in this story.
The story is based in the ’40s, 1946 to be precise. And centers around Superman and a Chinese immigrant family. Superman rarely uses his full powers out of the fear that people will not accept him. And also to portray himself as a human. He has issues with accepting his own Alien roots. Whereas the family has immigrated to the United States and started living in the suburbs of Metropolis. The family faces racism and has difficulty adjusting to their new lives because of this deep-rooted racism of our society.
KKK or The Klan is the most notorious White Supremacist Terrorist Hate Group in The US. And has been involved in systematic and organized crimes against the members of any other race. Historically their primary targets have been the African-Americans. But when people from the rest of the world started to immigrate to the United States of America, this group actively started to spread hate against the immigrants and the people of other religions as well. They have historically been able to recruit people that believed in their agenda as well as the other people by luring them under false pretenses.
The Klan is responsible for some of the most horrific crimes in the history of the US. They have successfully isolated their target groups within communities and have put them through systematic torture of all kinds. They have also resorted to crimes like murder and kidnapping in achieving their nefarious goals. most of the crimes have not even been documented due to their influence over the local media outlets of that era. This story highlights the Klan and its activities against the immigrants.
Basis Of Story
This comic book story is a three-part series and is based on the “Clan of the Fiery Cross” storyline from the 1946 Radio Show The Adventures of Superman. In this storyline, Superman takes on the Klan and protects an African-American family. Superman Smashes The Klan replaces the family with a Chinese immigrant one who faces not only racism but is also subjected to derogatory remarks because of their Chinese origins. After Clan of the Fiery Cross, the Klan was exposed nationwide and irreparably damaged the reputation of the group. The show exposed the codewords, rituals, and bigotry of the group.
This story is written by Gene Luen Yang. He stated that the reason behind this story was that the ideas that drove the Klan are making a resurgence and he wanted to take on this modern issue in the context of a historical Superman story.
The story consists of three parts and focuses on how Superman takes down the Klan and accepts his alien nature while protecting the Lee’s from the Klan as well.
The story opens with Superman facing a Nazi remnant of the the World War, who calls himself Adam man. Although Superman is able to take him down quite easily, but Adam man uses a weapon that makes Superman feel weak. After this the story shifts towards the Lee’s. Who are a Chinese-American family and are moving from Chinatown to the suburbs of Metropolis as Dr. Lee is starting a new job at the Metropolis Health Department. They family experiences subtle racism as they settle down in their new neighbourhood.
The two children of the family are struggling with their relocation to Metropolis. And also struggle to get used to their American names Tommy and Roberta. They use these names for the ease of the white people around them. Tommy joins Jimmy Olsen’s Baseball team and uses self-deprecating remarks to make friends. But Roberta clearly struggles to fit in.
Progression Of The Story
Tommy is an excellent pitcher but ends up in a fight with a fellow player named Chuck. Tommy beats up Chuck because of his ill attitude and ultimately gets him off the team. And becomes the head pitcher of the team. When Chuck returns home his uncle Matt asks him about what happened? And when he gets to know that his nephew is in this situation because of a Chinese American. He enlists the Klan and starts to harass the Lee family. The Klan even burns a cross on their lawn and warns anybody against helping the family.
When the Daily Planet writes about the plight of the Lee Family, Matt even kidnaps the people from the Daily Planet. But thankfully Superman spoils all their plans with timely intervention. But when Matt is rebuked by his superiors for kidnapping people from The Daily planet matt steals the experimental weapon used by Adam man and disposes of his superior. He kidnaps Roberta and takes her to a baseball game in progress and tries to kill her in front of the crowd. At this point his nephew attacks him disgusted by his uncle.
Superman arrives at the scene and uses his heat vision to destroy the experimental gun. Heat vision scares the people but Matt reveals several bombs strapped on his body and is about to blow the stadium up. When Superman flies him out of the danger zone and uses his freeze breath to disarm the bombs. He then tries to suicide which Superman prevents as well so that Matt could face justice.
Superman declares that all of them are bound by the same future and negates racism. After this, the Klan disbands in Metropolis. The Lee family and Superman both embrace their heritage. And Roberta joins the Daily Planet as a junior reporter at end of Superman Smashes The Klan
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