Superman Smashes the Klan

In this new graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang did a great job following a formula but still keeping things fresh. 

Gene Luen Yang is one of my favorite authors -- I'll buy a book of his before I've read it, I'll preorder books by him, and I'm constantly recommending his books. You can see all of my posts about him here

For Superman Smashes the Klan Yang took his inspiration from an old 1940's Superman radio serial. The Lee family has just moved to a new home to go with Mr. Lee's new job. It doesn't take long before they find out some people don't want them in the neighborhood, though. You see where this is going. 

But I love how Yang made the story complex and they characters two-dimensional. The young heroes have foibles, the villain has virtues, and Superman has a whole backstory to work out. It honestly surprised me how much happened in this slim volume, and I have high expectations for books by Yang. The story weaves in different kinds of racism, different reactions to racism, and other themes, too. 

I particularly like how anybody can read this book, regardless of how much they already know about Superman. Never heard of him? Everything you need to know is there. Already know everything and everybody from Lana to Lois, Kal-el to Kryptonite? You won't be disappointed. And the illustrations are flawless, making this an easy graphic novel to read even if you are new to the format. 

If you skip the backmatter in this book, you will be missing out! There's a fantastically done section in the back about Superman and about Gene Luen Yang, about the history of racism and hope. It's a great book, and the section in the back is MORE than the cherry on top. It's the whole cream layer on the banana cream pie. 

I'm not alone in thinking this book is awesome. It won the Young Adult Graphic Novel category of the Cybils this year. I think it fits well in the Young Adult category -- it deals with the heavy theme of racism and hate crime. There is violence and complexity. It's not gory at all, for which I'm thankful. I recommend it for 6th grade and up. 

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