Whoa, alternate universe time! Superman as a Russian, and me reviewing a DC book!
A co-worker and friend of mine (SG!) suggested this book for me to review, as it is a favorite of his. I can see why, as the story is the right way to do an alternate universe/reality tale. So what would happen if Superman’s parents sent him to Earth a few hours later? Well, he’d land in the Ukraine instead of Kansas and this small detail makes all the difference.
Superman’s youth is remarkably like his upbringing in his other reality, and he grows into a fine, morally upstanding man. His powers are only used for good, despite being Stalin’s pawn. Over in America we meet Lex Luthor and his wife Lois Lane, and discover that America is in bad shape. Lex feels that Superman is his opponent, as he is the only person who can intellectually take him on. After Stalin’s death a power void occurs, and Superman is encouraged to step in and rule the country. At first he demurs, but after he fights off a creature that Lex sent to kill him, he decides only he can properly rescue the Russian nation. At first his initiatives make the nation prosper, and Wonder Woman joins his side, as she believes in his cause. But ultimately, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dissidents in the Russian countryside start to appear, with Batman being the biggest insurgent to Superman’s iron rule. Batman, sporting some rocking head gear, captures Wonder Woman to try to break Superman but Wonder Woman, ever loyal to Superman hurts herself in saving Superman’s life. Things start to spiral out of control, with Superman taking on more and more of an authoritative and totalitarian rule. America is falling into ruin, but refuses to bend to communist rule, with Lex Luthor coming up with idea after idea to bring about the demise of Superman. An epic battle is fought between the two nations and a predestination paradox occurs, with an awesome and unexpected twist at the end.
There were shout outs to many other characters in the DC universe such as Jimmie Olson, the Green Lantern Marine Corps, Brainiac, the Amazons on the island of Themyscira, Oliver Queen, plus probably a host of others that I missed but Kathleen would spot! 😉 Mark Miller penned this epic tale; I was not surprised as he authors one of my favorite Marvel books, Civil War. The artwork was excellent, colored with a dark and reddish palate, fitting the overall theme of Red Russia. The art work between chapters was art deco in style, reminiscent of both American and Russian propaganda posters.
Red Son is definitely one of DC’s best stories!
Millar, Mark, Dave Johnson & Kilian Plunkett. Superman: Red Son. 2003.