DC Book Club Vol. II - SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN (2019)

Issue 1
1.As always, we want to see your favorite art and moments! There were plenty of times our eyes welled up…We would love to see your screenshots, or even just a description, of your “Best Of” panels in the comments below!
This panel immediately tells me the issue that Superman is facing and must attempt to overcome.

2There are many references to characters’ jackets, coats, and capes. What ties the symbolism of all their clothes together? How do characters use their clothing to convey their personal story?

As to what ties their clothes together, I say it’s that they are all a method of getting the story across, whether it’s the cap, Superman shirt, or robes, and how it reflects their thoughts. The Klan robes for hate, the baseball cap for love of an all-American game and trying to fit in, and the Superman shirt being worn by a boy committing a heinous act, in furtherance of his father’s idea of truth justice and the American way.

  1. Do you think this story would be received differently if it was set in modern times, rather than in the 1940

Definitely different, instead of the overt racism shown in the forty, it would for lack of better phrasing had been tackling hidden racism and its effects on people, and probably would’ve been more a Clark story than a Superman story, at least in this issue, or otherwise people would say that doesnt happen nowadays.

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I like your reasoning for posting that panel - it definitely is an ominous one that sets the tone for the issues the Lee family are about to face. You can almost feel the knots that must be in Roberta & Tommy’s stomachs witnessing that from their bedroom - it’s truly powerful artwork.

Here’s another panel that foreshadows a bit and helps you understand the type of derogatory comments people like the Lee family have to endure even in basic everyday conversation:

How do you feel about Roberta’s father telling her mother to speak in English rather than Cantonese? Do you think this stems from fear of not fitting in?

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Whhhhaaaa? Oh I hadn’t heard and will definitely be checking out that comic!

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I definitely do, the fathers reaction after the cross-burning lends credence to this interpretation as well.

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This shows how Superman has his own struggles. I think it helps him to be relatable. I really do enjoy these comics. As I said before the strong nature of these I enjoyed a lot. Glad this was the pick. It’s easy to follow the storyline :blush:

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So many people can relate to this, even now. :frowning:

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I noticed in one of the panels of the first issue that Chuck was wearing a Superman t-shirt, and then later tells Superman he is his biggest fan. We all know that Superman would be against everything that the KKK stands for and would be upset with Chuck being recruited into the KKK. We generally think of Superman as a good person, so this was an interesting juxtaposition of ideals. This makes me think a lot about how we idolize our “heroes” but may not necessarily agree with everything they think/say/do. Even fans of Superman can be racist and that’s not really a straightforward problem he can solve.

Clearly this kid is also having an identity crisis because he loves Superman and he doesn’t seem to be fully on-board with his uncle’s ideals and isn’t willing at first to join the Klan, and then later on helps Superman find Tommy.

I went on a slight tangent, but on the clothing question: the Klan uses their hoods/costumes as their “superhero outfits”. They see themselves as superheroes and are co-opting the “superhero disguise” as a way to justify their racist behavior and saying that they’re cleaning up the “filth”. That’s something we associate with superheroes, but these people are twisting that logic to fit their bad morals and calling themselves heroes.

Another point on clothing is that Roberta/Lan-Shin’s jacket that she had to throw away was a symbol/reminder of her own culture. When she got a new jacket she noted it smelled like plastic instead of like her mom. She didn’t want to have to assimilate into a new culture and resented that the new jacket was a first step towards that. I think she would have felt more comfortable making friends if she had the old jacket to ground her identity in.

To the question of if this story would be received differently if it was set in modern times, my answer is probably yes. Though the KKK still exists all over the U.S., they exist more in the shadows and are not out burning crosses in people’s yards. I think some other device would have to have been used in place of the KKK that readers today could relate to and point to in their own communities. Sadly, violence against Asian-Americans is still happening today as much as some white people try to deny it. I like that this story has some historical basis, but it is important to note that racism didn’t stop once the KKK stopped publicly burning crosses. I would be interested to see this same story based in modern times though!

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Also loved the art as a whole, I can definitely see the ATLA roots. Specifically this panel, I love the way you can see the shade from the trees.

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That was one of the most interesting parts of the story to me, how the Klan at first idolized Superman, when they thought he was basically proof that their views about racial superiority were correct, when in fact they couldn’t have been more wrong. That wasn’t Superman’s fault at all, how they chose to interpret him, but it did make it much more important and impactful when he was finally open and honest about who he was.

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Avatar the Last Airbender? :tornado:

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:exploding_head: how did I miss that!!!

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I had been meaning to read this when it came out but I never got to it. I’m so happy to have read it now.

It’s a great story. I liked how it was set in the past. I think it could be interesting to do in the present though. The Klan outfits would change a little but fighting Nazis is something people can relate to no matter the time period.

In the first chapter one small part was one of my favorites. When the Klan is burning the cross outside their house and Tommy runs out to stop them. Not the parents. Tommy. To me it shows Tommy’s almost innocence at the seriousness of the situation but also his willingness to protect his family.

I loved every bit of this series. From Roberta figuring herself out, to Clark figuring out his powers, Jimmy running a baseball team and Lois getting mad at Clark for ‘paying attention to other women’. That was a fun running gag.

The other thing I loved was the Klan saying that Superman proved that they were right. But, in reality, they were completely wrong. Superman coming out as an Alien was a fun little ‘screw you’ to the Klan. I loved it. :laughing:

The art of this series was gorgeous. I knew it looked familiar but I never would have guess it was the same from ATLA. I really like how it looks.

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That was one of the most interesting parts of the story to me, how the Klan at first idolized Superman, when they thought he was basically proof that their views about racial superiority were correct, when in fact they couldn’t have been more wrong. That wasn’t Superman’s fault at all, how they chose to interpret him, but it did make it much more important and impactful when he was finally open and honest about who he was.

Not to bring Marvel into the :00_dc_2016: boards lol, but your point about how it wasn’t Superman’s fault the way the Klan chose to interpret him reminds me how the Punisher from the Marvel comics has been co-opted by police/military and all lives matter supporters as a symbol of their “movement”. You always see that skull logo used by those people to push a racist agenda, but originally the character was just an anti-hero who thought the police had failed him.

I guess I’m not allowed to post links, but there was a great article by Forbes about this called The Creator Of ‘The Punisher’ Wants To Reclaim The Iconic Skull From Police And Fringe Admirers.

“The Punisher is representative of the failure of law and order to address the concerns of people who feel abandoned by the legal system,” Conway told Forbes , emphasizing he was speaking from his personal perspective, and adding, “It always struck me as stupid and ironic that members of the police are embracing what is fundamentally an outlaw symbol.”

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Here you go:

Apologies for the roadblock to posting links, I’ve gone ahead and promoted you so you don’t have to go through the Clearance Level steps :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing, this is a really sound comparison!

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Agreed. A “screw you” as only The Man of Steel could do it.

I enjoyed the artwork as well, very crisp and clean. Given the ATLA pedigree, it’s no surprise how animated the series appears to be, almost as if the art was screen grabs from an animated movie/TV special that doesn’t actually exist.

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Not sure if I’ve seen anyone respond to this question about secrets yet, but I felt like addressing. I think secrets can be a good thing and can protect people with less power, but can also be harmful and used to gate-keep information from those same people. For example, the Klan keeps their identities secret (at least until the end of #3) to protect their mission and also to be able to perpetuate harm. On the other hand, Superman keeps his identity a secret so that he won’t face discrimination or be perceived as an alien. Keeping secrets for valid reasons is good, but obviously if knowledge is being kept from people with less power in order to harm them or to keep them powerless, that is not a good thing.

Being a queer person, I definitely relate to being not fully myself. When I was younger I always felt like that part of me was something to keep to myself. Now I’m very open about it and happy to be who I am, but as a young person I was definitely afraid of getting bullied or being thought of as weird. The same way Superman was afraid to show his full power or the Lees were afraid to speak their own language around their neighbors. Happy to be gay! :00_dc_pride:

Periodical #3
Within the world of SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN, what does it mean to be a hero?

It seems like this comic is saying that a hero is someone who looks after their own community. I think this was best shown in this flashback to Clark as a kid:


The cop is saying that they need to take care of each other, even the people who are doing the wrong thing. I don’t think we should protect people who are truly evil, but there is something to be said about educating people we know who are misguided or believe in harmful rhetoric that they don’t fully understand. That is heroic because it means that we can have a hand in making a better future for marginalized people.

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Let me just start by saying these issues were great! I haven’t read a lot of comics, mostly Grant Morrison’s stuff like Final Crisis and Batman RIP, but this series carried a whole different ambience. The art was different, the message was different, the whole scale of it brought a different kind of flow. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Morrison’s stuff (and he’s probably my favorite writer!) but this comic was something… different.

Periodical #1:
The clothing was an interesting part of this series. Kudos the the artist! He effectively showed the relation of clothing to character attitude and development. One of the most notable instances of this was with Lois Lane: The kinds of dresses she wore, the slight tilt in her hat, her stance and body language all conveyed a feeling of confidence and fearlessness, and a effect that the writer and artist were both aiming for. Hmm… The question about the 1940’s brings up some political thinking… something I’m not going to get into. I think some of the story’s flow regarding people who are Asian had a lot to do I think with the way the United States viewed the race in the 40’s was not good, mostly due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and conflict with the Japanese during WWII. An interesting line to me in correlation with this when other members of the unity home which country Roberta is from. I think that brings in some historical significance regarding the times and general opinions.

Periodical #2:
“Why only be half of what you are?” An interesting phrase to say the least. I think the essence of this idea really brings into play our own understanding of ourselves. Innately, we adapt to our surroundings. For thousands of years humans have done this, and it happens today. I think it’s really important to consider the part where Clark’s parents talk about how he withholds himself subconsciously, and has to actively try to be himself.

Periodical #3:
These issues really describe a hero as someone who actively tries to achieve themselves, to be themselves in the best ways they can be. It is also someone who defends the individuality and choices of others. The Klan’s claim that the impossibility of uniting people across different races and histories is part of American ideals is one of the most false drives of their philosophy. Whether or not you believe it is practiced in the past, it is an important part of American ideals now to be unified regardless of race, history or blood. It’s an important message that all of us should work together, whether you’re Jimmy Olsen or Roberta, it’s important to work together to save the day. And I sure as heck hope the lion’s okay.

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I relate to this on so many levels. As someone also in the LGBTQ+ community, for so many years I was afraid to be myself, afraid of being looked at differently, or treated differently. I was especially afraid of how my family would react. Not being accepted by your own family just for being your genuine self, well of course that would scare most.

Superman

This panel really hit close to home. My conversation was very similar, except it was my mother who initiated it. She just came up to me one day and basically said the same thing Superman did. “I want you to know that it’s ok to be you, no matter what, we’re your family and we love you”. I feel like that helped give me the strength to be more open. Which brings me to the next panel that gave me the feels.

Superman2

Like Superman, even though we may be different, I may have a different lifestyle, or have different views and beliefs, I’m still the same person you’ve always known. We all have our own thoughts, feelings, passions, etc. But when we can accept each other in spite of our differences, we can’t lose.

This is why I love stories like this! Bringing these issues into the mainstream, having active discussions, and open communication can only benefit everyone, In this community, as well as in everyday life.

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My dad, his 3 sisters and 2 brothers, were all first generation Americans.

His father, my grandfather, fled Sicily in 1922, defected from the Italian Navy, and became an illegal immigrant in NYC until he naturalized in 1943. He raised his kids to be American and was very proud to be in the land of opportunity. He only spoke broken English his whole life after teaching himself to read and write but his kids could only understand the basics of Italian.

The point of all this is my dad, although being 100% Italian, was culturally American. It was important to my grandparents that their kids assimilate more than they could to make life easier for them but for my generation, I feel like we lost a lot. Even though we are all proud to be of Italian heritage, we didn’t eat traditional foods or celebrate traditional holidays. I know one song and a handful of Italian phrases and those are filtered through my mom since my dad passed when I was young.

My point is, I feel like half of my heritage was lost and its sad. In this story in particular, I am so envious of Superman for being able to connect to his Kryptonian heritage. What a priceless gift to be able to connect with a part of you that would otherwise be lost to time. Recently I was given my grandfather’s hand written autobiography and I’ve been working at transcribing it for my brother and sister. It’s also been a struggle to read some of the less pleasant things about him. At first I didn’t know how to feel about it but in the end I admire his honesty and it’s a little like reading someone’s diary. It’s also a reminder that history shouldn’t be romanticized and if it’s not messy and ugly at times then it’s not honest. It has been incredible to read his thoughts in his broken English through his pen strokes and get to know him and his life struggles. I never got to meet the man, but I’m so fortunate he left this behind.

I think this is why so many things in SStK resonated with me. I wonder what my dad or his father would have thought of the story. I bet it would have resonated with them even more. :heart:

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Thanks for sharing about your grandfather. I think it’s really great that you have that autobiography he wrote. My grandmother grew up in Germany during World War II and moved here after the war. It’s nice for me to know about where my family (on both sides) came from. It kind of helps make the world smaller and connect you to places you’ve never been, which is neat. For me, at least. :slight_smile:

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