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Category Archives: Writing

When I found out that Gene Luen Yang was going to be writing a Superman story for younger readers, I was ecstatic. Imagine my joy to learn that the book was titled Superman Smashes the Klan. Yang is an exceptional cartoonist, and no stranger to writing stories for DC Comics. His New Super-Man series was one of my favorite things to come out of the Rebirth line, and American-Born Chinese was brilliant as well (Boxers and Saints are still in my to-read pile).

Superman Smashes the Klan is a phenomenal adaptation of an early Superman radio serial, in which a Chinese-American family, the Lees, moves from Metropolis’ Chinatown to the suburbs, pursuing a new, better life. Roberta and Tommy and their parents are adapting to the changes, and meeting new people. Daily Planet cub reporter Jimmy Olsen is quick to befriend the young Lees and introduce them to other kids their age.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the Lee family to draw the attention of the Klan of the Fiery Kross. The Klan does not take kindly to a Chinese-American family settling in any part of Metropolis, let alone outside of Chinatown, and make their hatred known by burning a cross on the Lee family’s lawn. The Daily Planet sends Lois Lane and Clark Kent to investigate, and soon, Superman is on the case as well. With help from Roberta and Tommy, Superman must face off with the Klan and show them that Metropolis and America have no place for their bigotry and violence.

Gene Luen Yang’s story seamlessly weaves the updated tale of the Lee family (this version gives names and characterization to all of them!) and a younger Superman, still coming into his own powers (no flight, no heat vision, and no super-breath yet, for starters) and finding his own place as an outsider. Clark flashes back to his early years in Smallville, learning the truth about his origins as an alien. Yang effortlessly manages the most difficult part of any Superman story, too, in making both Clark Kent and Superman relatable and fun to read. Roberta serves as the primary narrator for the Lee family, trying to fit in with a new group of friends in a new part of town. Ostracized by her old friends from Chinatown now that she’s living in the “better” part of of Metropolis but not fully welcomed in her suburban neighborhood, she struggles to establish herself. Her keen observation skills make her an essential ally in Lois and Clark’s investigation of the violence aimed at her family.

This is an incredibly timely book, and Yang nails the importance of narratives in which immigrants are welcomed, not hated. Superman Smashes the Klan is the type of Superman story that America needs in 2020. I’m grateful to NetGalley for providing the eARC copy in exchange for a fair review.

“This looks like a job for Superman.”

My infant son

Has been asleep

In my arms

In the rocking chair

For almost ten

Minutes

And I could

Put him back

Into his bed

With his clean sheets

And a dry diaper

And warm pajamas

And a few minutes to

Go until his mother

Can come in

From work in

The office (garage)

To feed him

But I think

That I’ll just sit

Here and hold

Him in my arms

For just another

Quiet

Moment

While the world

Spins

On.

It’s not really an “extra” day, I

Know, but there’s something

Unbelievably special about

One extra night falling asleep

Next to you.

You

are allowed

to write things

that are not

Profound

“Hallowe’en”

 

In distant times, it is said,
People would gather to
Be near to one another on
A cold night, and reflect
On the warmth of those
They had said their final
Farewells to many years
Before.

And on that cold night,
Halfway through the fall,
We remember those no
Longer with us, and we
Bid them to come near,
That we might learn
From them even in
Absentia.

Every so often, I look at my shadow in wonder. How does it manage to keep up with me when it exists in such a bizarre world? Then I stop and think. If my shadow could comprehend me, would my shadow think it strange that I exist only in two dimensions?

My truth is my own,
And if you cannot
Open your mind to a
Reality that is vastly
Different than the one that
You have always known,
Then perhaps, dearest reader, you
May find that these
Tales are not for you.

If I could, I would always
Walk beside you, not
Holding your hand, but
Simply being there, to
Let you know that I’m
There when you need me.

So much of what my own
Parents said and did now
Makes sense to me, when
I see you taking those
First, cautious, unaided steps
Toward my outstretched hand.

But the best thing that I can
Do is teach you to always
Strive to be kind in a
World that feels more cruel
Now than when I stood,
Aided by my own father’s hands.

 

We often talk, mostly in a
Joking manner, about how
We would like to drink
From the skulls of our
Enemies,
And leaving aside for a
Moment, the practicality
Of just such behavior,
Would it not be a more
Poignant act, albeit less
Intimidating, to do so
From the skull of a
Friend?

You say
That you want a
Poem,
But that it can’t be
Political. That it can’t
Be about my
Identity, about who I
Choose to love,
About how I feel.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Attack those in power,
That it should be
Passive, peaceful,
About unity, despite
Your support for those
Who would divide
Us
Me
You.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Include lines about the
Ways in which I
Have been erased,
In which my friends and
Loved ones and
Chosen family have
Been ignored or betrayed.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But it shouldn’t
Reflect on the life
I’ve lived or the
Death
That I’ve seen,
Felt,
Held in my hand,
A small
Fragment of grief
Beyond description.
You say
That you want a
Poem,
But you don’t
Seem to actually
Know what
Poetry
Is.