“Superman Smashes the Klan,” by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

“Superman Smashes the Klan,” by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru. DC Comics, May 2020. 240 pp. Paperback, $16.99. Ages: Most official outlets recommend twelve and up, although parents reporting to Common Sense Media say ten and up. (My eight-year-old has read it twice now.)

Thanks to Fables Books, 215 South Main Street in downtown Goshen, Indiana, for providing Commons Comics with books to review.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Fables is back open! Please enter through the back and follow store guidelines. High risk customers can still make browsing appointments before or after hours, and all customers can continue to order online at fablesbooks.com, over the phone 574-534-1984, or via email fablesbooks@gmail.com.

It’s 2020, and I wish this Superman storyline from the 1940s were no longer relevant. As the resurgence of hate in the US has made clear, however, we do need this story again. There’s no better choice for retelling it than Gene Luen Yang.

Yang labels himself “Cartoonist and Teacher” on his website. The first comics artist to serve as a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, Yang wrote and illustrated the near-instant classics “American Born Chinese” and “Boxers and Saints,” and has been crafting superhero reboots such as “The Shadow Hero” and a new Superman series that features not Clark Kent, but a Chinese teen named Kenan Kong.

The story that Yang adapted and revised for this book was originally released for radio rather than comics. “The Adventures of Superman,” broadcast in the U.S. from 1940 into the 1950s, ran this “Klan” story arc in the summer of 1946, right after the end of World War II. (You can hear the whole thing here.) Yang preserves the basics of the original story: Dr. Wan Lee, the patriarch of a Chinese American family, gets a new job, and moves the family out of Chinatown and into a house in Metropolis. They are visited by the “Clan of the Fiery Cross” soon after they move in:

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Compassionate Resistance: “Monstress, Volume Three: Haven”

“Monstress, Volume 3: Haven,” by Marjorie Liu. Image Comics, September 2018. 533 pp. Paper, $16.99. Young adult, 13+, with some graphic images and adult language.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review since 2013. You can still find most of the books I review at their online store, www.betterworldbooks.com.

It can be difficult to dive into a comics series midstream, but in the case of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s “Monstress,” the art will carry you until you gain your narrative footing:

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Jersey Justice: Review of “Ms. Marvel: No Normal”

This post was originally published by the Elkhart Truth in November of 2014. Ms. Marvel hit its 50th issue in June, and the collected trade of the series is now up to Volume 9, which just came out in July. If you haven’t read this series, it’s the perfect time to start: you’ve got a year or two to get caught up before the release of the Ms. Marvel film.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of the books I review at the store, or order them for free if they’re out.

“Some people get to hide out in space stations. I get a Circle Q.” So speaks the edgy yet grounded Kamala Khan, a.k.a. the new Ms. Marvel. In “Ms. Marvel: No Normal,” the first collected trade volume of the most recent incarnation of Ms. Marvel, Khan is a second-generation Pakistani-American from Jersey City who has just inherited superpowers she doesn’t yet fully understand. She’s a Muslim teenager who writes superhero fan fiction, both loves and resents her parents, and like many North American teenagers no matter their faith or lack thereof, just wants to fit in. Continue reading “Jersey Justice: Review of “Ms. Marvel: No Normal””