Writer: Gene Luen Yang
It feels like just yesterday that I read the first issue of this series. Probably because it was. I was so hyped for this new issue that I re-read it but we’ll ignore that little factoid. If you’ve read my review of the original issue then you’ll know that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was probably the best Superman issue I’ve read in over a decade. The writing was brilliant and the anime-style art from Gurihiru was fantastic. Begs the question though, how does the latest issue hold up in comparison?
Our latest issue picks up where the first one left off. Superman is attempting to save Roberta, her brother Tommy and their friend Chuck from the Klan. This leads to Superman having a vision of his parents and discovering his X-ray vision before sending Roberta home with his cape. This issue is really quite different from its predecessor. There’s the topic of racism being discussed and the idea of being an outsider but this issue is more about the man of steel. We see most of these issues from Superman’s perspective as he struggles to accept his alien heritage. We also see Superman struggle to fit in as Clark Kent due to this. It’s interesting although it could be disappointing for some. The human characters like Roberta take a back seat. They’re still there but we don’t see much of the Lee family. The Klan is largely reduced to generic evil-doers for Superman to stop and they’re really just punchlines.
You might be thinking that this sounds like a bad book then? It’s not, it’s just nowhere near as good as issue one. Despite its themes, this is still a book designed for kids who’re new to Superman, as well as existing fans. One of the main focuses of the book is Clark’s childhood in Smallville. Some adult fans may groan at this idea. There’ve been so many Superman origin retellings that I’ve lost count. Thankfully this issue only touches on that idea and uses it to explore how Clark is treated after his powers surface. It relays the kind of prejudice one might experience throughout life in a way kids can easily understand.
The art is just as good as the last issue. Gurihiru, as usual, does not disappoint. The anime-style visuals continue to fit in with a story that seems to be moving more and more into the traditional Superman setting of Metropolis. One thing I noticed is that this issue spends more time at night than the first did. It means that some of the colours aren’t quite as vibrant throughout this issue. One upside though is how well the white klan outfits stand out against the night. It makes even the low-level grunts that Superman and Roberta encounter seem important and threatening.
Overall this is a good follow-up to the first issue. It’s a bit disappointing that the story seems to be moving away from Roberta and her family. This feels far more like a generic Superman story than I’d hoped. It still gives some of those characters a good spotlight, just a lesser spotlight than before. This is the middle part of a trilogy though and it’s clear that this is a setup issue. Hopefully, this means the finale will make up for what issue two lacked. Still, the writing here is solid and the art is still great. I’d recommend Superman smashes the klan issue two to anyone who’s read issue one or who just wants to teach their kid to be understanding of others.
Superman smashes the klan #2
This is a decent issue. A lot of its flaws come from being a transitional piece between the start and finish of a story and it falls into some Superman cliches. It's good though and the artwork is brilliant just like the last issue. A solid read.