Superman: Red Son
- Titan Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 26 March 2004
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The concept behind alternative history is deceptively easy. Change something from the past (in this case, the wellknown, but still imaginary past) and carry it forward to a logical conclusion. Here, the rocket carrying the infant Superman from Krypton hits Earth 12 hours earlier (or later?) and instead of landing in Kansas, USA, lands in the Ukraine, then part of the USSR. The American Superman that we all know is a pretty conservative, mainstream fellow, imbued with some old fashioned, if not quaint, Norman Rockwell type values. The constant is that he always thinks he is doing the right thing. So, it is logical to suppose that if he was raised in the good old USSR during the time of Comrade Uncle Joe Stalin, he would assume the values of that place and time, accompanied, once more, with a strong belief that he was doing the right thing. Out of this premise, Mark Millar has fashioned a morality tale, which covers, among other issues, the danger of totalitarianism, even if it is benevolent, the value of individuality, and the premise that even the most omnipotent individual can fail. All told in a cinematic noir style, and with an absolutely killer conclusion. Read it. (Special note: and a big thank you to my beloved son-in-law for giving this as a present. Love you, man.)
Alternate universe DC! Russian superman! Batman wearing a furry Russian hat! Pure awesomesauce!
I don't read many Superman comics (he's just not really one of my favorite heroes to be honest) but this book...is excellent. You don't have to have any knowledge of Superman or the mythos of any of the characters that show up, because Mark Millar takes everything and turn's it on its head.Mark asks the question...what if Superman's ship landed 12 hours later on planet Earth in Communist Russia? Where would the world be? What would happen to some of our old friends like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor? Or even Wonderwoman and Batman? The world is a vastly different place with Superman having been raised in Communist traditions, versus American. And yet...we can still recognize him as the one person that continually wants to do good, even if it doesn't always work out.The writing is superb and constantly keeps the reader on the edge wondering what will happen next. Millar expertly takes a question that in the hands of a lesser writer could have been a horrible work, but instead is something downright fantastic. He uses other DC heroes, such as Batman and Green Lantern, and reimagines their stories all because of this one event and weaves their tales in. And of course the two biggest Superman villains show up--Lex Luthor and Brainiac, each with their own twists on their tales. The artwork complements the story well and is a darker tone than what we normally see.Even if you aren't a Superman fan read this book. It will challenge what you know about the DC universe, in a good way.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's . . . <i><b>Deus ex machina!</i></b>. The god in the machine comes down from the skies and saves us from ourselves. Except Millar calls him "Superman" and leaves out God. And did I mention he's a <i>Communist</i> Superman raised in the USSR instead of Smallville?All in all, brilliant idea. Execution was lacking, however. I found myself rather indifferent towards the characters (except Wonder Woman, unhinged by unrequited love). Superman was rather bland and boring without Clark Kent. Without Kent, Superman was more like Mongul than the Superman who inspires by embodying those "boy scout qualities" that offers firmly rooted values in the everyday changing world (farmboy moving to <i>Metropolis</i>; I can't believe I've only just realized that).In short, Millar's <i><b>Red Son</i></b> is worth reading, especially for any Superman fan. But even though there is a delightfully circuitous twist to the ending, I didn't care. Without Clark Kent, the Man of Steel can be summed in one word: Meh.I guess there are times when you can begin to appreciate the influence of something only by imagining its absence.+++An addendum: I gave the book 2 1/2 stars because Millar told more than he showed. Upon seeing the cover, I was enthralled, my mind swirling with the possibilities. And upon reading it, I was thoroughly disappointed. Plus, <i>Red Son</i> had the ill luck of coming upon the heels of David Nordley's <i>Democritus' Violin</i> which skewed my standard for a cleverly told "What if" thought experiment.And if I'm really honest, I'd admit that the pannel of Superman's statue being pulled down in Red Square(?) stirred up too many unpleasant memories of Lucas's heavy-handed meddling in the <i>Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition</i>. :)
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