How 'Superman Smashes The Klan' Reconnects Superman to His Immigrant Roots

Superman Smashes The Klan completed its three-issue-story on Wednesday, reconnecting Superman to his immigrant roots.

Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial Clan of the Fiery Cross, Superman Smashes The Klan takes Superman back to the early years of his own history placing him squarely in the Golden Age of DC Comics. The setting allows for different stories and social focuses as Superman takes on the KKK.

Superman has always represented the ultimate immigrant story. The character was envisioned as an immigrant by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the sons of Jewish immigrants. The story of two parents sacrificing their own lives to give their child a chance to survive represents the genesis of the refugee story, one that is very much embedded into Superman's DNA. Over time, the character became more about his otherworldly powers and stopping galactic threats over his original thematic core. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang delivered a timely piece in Superman Smashes The Klan that rechannels this ultimate immigrant story.

Speaking with THR, Yang had this to say about Superman and his immigrant roots.

"One of the things that drew me back to Superman was realizing that he was an immigrant from Krypton.

Like, all of those things: vacillating between two different identities, having two different names, having two different sets of cultural expectations. All of the realities of my childhood, all of it was encoded in Superman - The core of Superman is that he's an immigrant from Krypton."

Superman Smashes The Klan's inspiration from Clan of the Fiery Cross gives the story a real-life connection as well. In 1946, Superman's most popular home was the radio serial, Adventures of Superman radio show. In the summer of that year, Superman was battling against the Ku Klux Klan.

Activist Stetson Kennedy provided KKK details, code words, and secrets to the radio show, which would in-turn expose those secrets nationwide to listeners. The series was said to negatively impacted the KKK's recruitment efforts among youths at the time.

Superman Smashes the Klan launched October 16, with its final issue released on Wednesday. The issue showcased Superman, who in this story is still a rookie figuring out his true purpose in the world, learning about his past and overcoming his own trials of being an immigrant in America.

A poignant moment in the story comes when a member of the Klan is cheerful of Superman's powers, taking it as a sign of white supremacy. This ultimately is the catalyst for Superman to reveal himself as an alien to the rest of the world, unashamed of not being a human. Yang takes extra time and effort to flesh out Superman's youth in this issue, providing new layers to his origin story, including iconic powers he would eventually have.

Superman Smashes The Klan
Superman Smashes The Klan #3 DC Comics

Outside of Superman Smashes the Klan, Superman's immigrant roots were touched on in stories like Superman: Birthright, Superman: Earth One, Superman: Peace on Earth and in the films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Overall, Superman Smashes the Klan is the kind of Superman story worth seeing more of across all mediums. While the character is iconic partly due to his powers and wide-commercial appeal, it's stories like Superman Smashes the Klan that truly showcase why Superman is a universally-relatable character.

Superman Smashes the Klan's graphic novel collection debuts in May.