I adore Gene Luen Yang. His graphic novels are always interesting and engaging, even those geared towards younger readers. When I saw Superman Smashes the Klan at my local bookstore, I had to take it home. Historical alternate fiction? Graphic novel? Superheroes? Gene Luen Yang? Yes.
Roberta and Tommy have moved to Metropolis from Chinatown, because their scientist father has been hired to take on a new project. Tommy quickly makes new friends, but Roberta has difficulty adjusting to their new life, particularly the many acts of casual racism. Just as she starts to acclimate, the Ku Klux Klan targets the Lee family. And that’s where Superman and Lois Lane step in. Superman, however, struggles against memories and inexplicable loss of powers at crucial moments. Both he and Roberta must flesh out their uniqueness in order to tap into their strengths.
This is a middle-grade book, so the plot is fairly straightforward and aimed at younger readers. That said, don’t be dissuaded from reading it! It’s a charming and heartwarming tale about banding together to fight and defeat hatred in your own community. This was easily a 4.5 star book for me, and a fairly quick read. I hope there are sequels to follow in this solid superhero tale.