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What If America's greatest Superhero was found and raised by the Soviet Union? Read On
Superman: Red Son - Mark Millar
Member Name: gondor300
Superman: Red Son - Mark Millar
Date: 10/03/13, updated on 11/03/13 (15 review reads)
Advantages: Brilliand and quick read story that gives us an alternate take of Superman and other DC characters
Disadvantages: The art is not consistent throughout and the heavy political tone will not appeal to everyone
Publishers in the comics book industry have always enjoy greater freedom when reinventing their characters to face the change in times or to attract new generation of readers. What is also common is for them to come with one-off alternate stories that present character in new settings or new origins. DC Comics and Marvel has been more prominent on this trend with their special issues called 'Elseworlds' and 'What If' respectively.
Superman - Red Son, was one such storyline developped by Mark Millar in the Elseworlds imprint . Released in 2003 in limited three-issues series, it's bold premise, 'What if Superman was raised by the Soviet Union' was recieved with critical praise and even won the prestigious Eisner Award in best limited series category.
Normally most Elseworlds issues are released as marketting gimmicks which probably will end up in bargain bins but Red Son is a more serious written book that not just only put Superman as a hero raised under the Stalin's Soviet Union and his fight under the name of Socialism but the consequences and social repercussions that result when having a powerful and invincible Man Of Steel within your ranks. The Soviet Union becomes a major superpower with greater techonlogical advancement while the United States start falling in tatters with panic overflowing in the streets when face against a god-like alien threat. The version of Superman portrayed here is is far from the ideal superhero that we normally know. Superman is brought and raised with the Communism ideal and used as political propaganda by Stalin in the beginning but soon after, he will realised that he can use his powers for the greater good. His actions will pushed him to convert his beloved Soviet State into a utopia after Stalin's death where not only crime is eradicated but all individuals are monitored in a Big-Brother style by Superman who views this as a step in using his powers in the right direction and for the right cause.
Mark Millar also bring other notable DC characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor in alternate versions of themselves with some very clever twists and turns in how they form part of the story. Luthor being Superman's eternal arch-nemesis start as a brilliant scientist recruited by the American government to halt Superman but his thirst for revenge will lead him to become the President of United States with the help of the alien-entity Brainiac as he dedicate his whole life to bring Superman to his knees. Luthor has a very prominent presence in the book and he is a far more interesting character as usual as his ongoing battles with Superman is a reflection of different ideals clashing together with Luthor viewing Superman way of controlling his subjects as threat to the United States and the world. This gives the book a more serious and political tone compared to other Superman storylines with historical characters such as Josef Stalin and John F Kennedy mixing with DC comics characters.
The art does capture the essence of the story and reflects the historical or social moods that occurs in the book with events starting form 1953 and spanning through several decades but is not consistent within the pages and this can mainly be attribute to different artists working on Red Son. While their styles are different in the book as they try to balance the changes and historical events that Superman witness throughout, somes characters drawings are different from what they appeared at the beginning and this can be a distraction to the story. While not a big let-down, it hinders this comic book from being a perfect one.
Minus this little blip, Red Son is a well-structured and contained story from Mark Millar who provides us with one of the most daring and alternate take on the Superman mythos including an unthinkable twisted ending. While being an Elseworlds series, Millar has crafted a story that is appealing on it's own with neither heroes nor villains but merely about what choices will you make if you have the powers to do so. Superman willl always be the most iconic superhero in the world and while different writers has tried to bring different perspectives to him and what he stands for, Red Son simply shows that while possessing immense powers, he can not always save everything and everyone.
Superman, Red Son is part of the Elseworlds imprint and has been released in a collected edition of 160 pages and can be found for about less than 10 pounds on Amazon and Ebay
Summary: It may be about a Superman of an alternate world but Red Son is a brilliant available Superman comic
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