Comic Book Review: RED SON (2003)
ELSEWORLDS in DC Comics is a special line of comics that basically feature alternate reality versions of the comic book characters we know and love. I’m not even going to get into the Multiverse thing, ‘cuz that makes my head hurt and my soul ache. All you need to know to enjoy this review is that ELSEWORLDS line of comics are one shot stories using established characters in a different world and setting; a kind of ‘what if’ situation. SUPERMAN: RED SON is such a story.
RED SON basically hypothesizes how the life of the legendary All American Superman would be, if his ship crash-landed in Russia, instead of America. The results are drastically different from what we know of Superman today.
Being revealed to the world and working with Stalin, Superman is the “Red Son” of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and tips the scales in Russia’s favor. Growing up in Socialist Russia, Superman doesn’t have the ideals of Democracy preventing him from working with the government to bring change to the country, instead of just being a symbol for the everyman to look up to.
This provokes the greatest mind in the world, and still an American in this story, Lex Luthor, to make it his life mission to defeat his enemy from another nation, Superman. Following the death of Stalin, the President of Russia at the time and his mentor, Superman reluctantly takes over as President, in the hopes to bring about larger change than just saving people from burning buildings. And he succeeds. All the while Luthor nipping at his heels to try to destroy him.
SUPERMAN: RED SON is a great story about the alternate path that Superman and the world could’ve gone. It’s a tragic rise and fall of a conqueror, unlike the hero he is known to be. Superman’s good intentions end up corrupting his nature and he ends up creating a totalitarian utopia where he upholds good and justice all by himself, by force at times.
Written by Mark Millar, this story also has amazing cameos by other heroes. Batman shows up as the anarchist terrorist, threatening Superman’s regime by constantly being a super pain in the ass. Hal Jordan is also present as a Green Lantern Marine Corps member. Familiar faces and characters litter the story, all in different versions of the ones we know.
The awesome-ness of this story again falls back onto the Lex Luthor-Superman exchanges. Despite creating a supreme World Order, Lex’s refusal to accept Superman’s help, plunges America into ruins, until Lex changes things up after being elected President. His brilliance makes USA a super power again, threatening Superman’s world-utopia in Russia. It’s the classic corruption of good, by good intentions.
RED SON also has a lot of internal debate about Socialism versus Democracy. How far would one with power such as Superman go, to instill his version of a perfect society, even at the expense of people’s own freedoms. That dealt with a lot during this.
It’s an amazing story which has life of it’s own and works to establish a great perspective on the flip side of things. SUPERMAN: RED SON is easily accessible to any new comics reader, as it doesn’t rely on years of Superman mythos to tell its story. An amazing work of comic fiction, RED SON is a must read for any comics or even Superman fan!