Reviews: Superman: Red Son

Published on May 26th, 2009

superman-redsonWhat if instead of landing in Smallville, Kansas, Krypton had exploded 12 hours later and Superman ended up in Russia? That is essentially the entire premise of Superman: Red Son. Yes, instead of the classic ‘S’ on his chest, we are treated to a Superman donning the very communist hammer and sickle instead. I think it looks much better, but I also say better dead than red, so what do I know? Instead of Martha and Jonathan Kent raising the man of steel with American virtues, Superman is brought up by the late, great Josef Stalin. The story begins in the 1950’s, so by the time Superman has reached adulthood, we are in a full blown Cold War. But who is the face of America if Superman is a commie? Why, Lex Luthor of course, and by the way even in this universe he hates Superman.

The highlight of this entire storyline for me is seeing what alternate versions of the heroes and villains we love pop up in the story. I won’t name any of them for those of you who haven’t read it, but there are some really cool appearances in this book. Just like the regular DC Universe though, you can’t have Superman without Batman and Wonder Woman far behind. In this story Wonder Woman is a romantic interest for Supes’ pretty early on. Batman, on the other hand, hates Superman as he blames him for the death of his parents. I am in love with Mark Millar’s version of Batman in this book because he is, and forgive the pun, bat-shit crazy, and it fits perfectly.

It’s really the mark of a great writer (no more puns, I promise) when you can take a “What If?” premise, craft it into an epic story filled with life, personality, and a sense of urgency even when you know in the back of your mind how ridiculous it is. Superman the communist party leader? It sounds crazy, but after reading this, not so much. I’m not a Superman fan by any stretch of the imagination. I find him pretty boring actually. But this story turns the entire Superman story that we all know and flips it on it’s face. If you don’t have this, run to the bookstore now and grab it. It’s worth it.

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Butner Brimberry
Butner@comicimpact.com