Superman Smashes The Klan #3 Review - Primed and Ready for Streaming
Superman Smashes the Klan has been a surprisingly good Young Adult reading experience. I'm clearly older than the target audience but I found the story to be poignant and primed to be adapted into a streaming series.
This issue wraps up the mini-series and opens with a flashback to Pre-Superman Clark at a circus with Lana Lang. The circus tent is struck by lightning which causes an uproar amongst the crowd and the animals. The strongman, Samson who doubled as the ticket counter on the opening page slips into action but is overwhelmed and almost eaten by a lion before Clark intervenes.
After getting things under control Clark and Samson have a conversation in which Clark reveals his reservations about using his abilities in public. Samson gives him the advice to wear a costume. The more colorful the better. Its a nice opening and shows how Clark came to the idea of having a secret identity.
Following that brief scene, the story shifts to Superman smashing the Klan and rescuing Perry White, Lois Lane, and Inspector Henderson. Before being arrested there is a brief exchange between Superman and the leader of this group of Klansmen who goes by the moniker of Grand Scorpion. In this exchange, the villain describes Superman as the pinnacle of the White race. We've seen similar exchanges between The Red Skull and Captain America but it's still jarring to see a thoroughly evil individual showering accolades on the hero even in defeat due to misplaced hatred and bigotry.
The men are arrested and we then learn that the Klan members are part of a bigger network that has infiltrated all aspects of Metropolis society. The Grand Scorpion is released within 24 hours of being arrested. He immediately goes to his superior the Grand Imperial Mogul, who dresses him down for attacking prominent members of the Daily Planet and getting Superman involved in their affairs.
I found this segment to be the most interesting aspect of the comic as it spotlights Matthew Riggs (Grand Scorpion) role as a useful idiot. The Grand Imperial Mogul doesn't actually believe in the racist values that the Klan but uses the underlying hatred and fear of its members to line his pockets.
The exploitation of fear is a common tactic no matter what side of the political spectrum you're on. We've seen this dominate the news throughout 2020 and there doesn't appear to be any end in sight. The problem for the Grand Imperial Mogul is that Matthew actually believes the racist rhetoric. He kills the Mogul and then assumes control of the organization.
The comic is really good and wraps up nicely. It's not as strong as the previous issue but everything works thematically. The book is a little too kid-focused for me and aside from the arc of Superman coming to terms with his alien heritage, the story is focused on Roberta Lee. All of the other supporting characters are pushed into the background this time around.
I'm not of fan of how Superman's problem ends up being resolved. I get what the comic is going for but it just comes off as odd having Superman be lectured by a kid and then running off because he doesn't want to confront obvious issues. This aspect of the comic is very heavy-handed, even more so than the heavier material with the Klan.
The manga-style art direction also lends itself well to the comic book and I could see it easily translated to other media. Gurihiru's drawings are definitely easy on the eyes and flow nicely from scene to scene. The action sequences are very energetic and the third act of this comic is simply incredible. I had problems with it in the first issue considering the dark subject matter but as the series has gone on it's grown on me and now I can't imagine anyone else tackling this material.
I'm guessing we'll see Superman Smashes the Klan on HBO Max within a year or two. It has a great message and each installment has enough material that I can recommend the series being read either in single issues or in a collected volume. I also feel that the series is worth sharing with the kids regardless of political leanings or affiliations. It's not a "Woke" comic, it covers an era where the Klan had actionable political power and is worth reading if only for the discussion that may follow afterward.