Previously in Superman Smashes the Klan, The Klan of the Fiery Cross had set the top of the Daily Planet building on fire and kidnapped Lois Lane, Perry White, and Inspector Henderson with the intent to kill them. Naturally, Superman saves the day, but it is the arc of his character in this book that allows him to be the hero he needs to win in the end.
Just as the prior books were set against a backdrop of intense racism, this book uses the events taking place to help tell a more nuanced story of acceptance. We saw Roberta Lee and Superman struggle with their dual identities and choose to accept their second identities, their true selves, to the detriment of their original selves. Only when they fully embrace both identities are Roberta and Superman able to save the day. In the case of Superman, that meant accepting his alien heritage, not being afraid of being shunned, and embracing all of his powers instead of holding himself back. That particular bit is most relevant to Roberta’s story in her interactions with Lois Lane. Only when Roberta embraces her Chinese identity does she have full confidence in herself.
Gene Luen Yang is just so good in this space. He is able to tell these kinds of stories that deal with heavy material and make it accessible to not just a young audience, but an all-ages audience. It’s not an easy feat to write something that can resonate with an adult as much as a younger reader. I said this before in the prior reviews of the title, Gurihiru’s art is just as much a part of this success as Yang’s writing. Gurihiru captures the simple purity of a Superman story that opens this up to all ages. This was a delight to read and I highly recommend it to anyone.