GN 7. Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar. Illustrated by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett. 160 p. Published February 2004.
This novel takes place in the realm of “what ifs.” What if Superman’s ship had landed 12 hours later? Well, then the All American boy we know and love would become something else. Something raised on a commune in the Ukraine and clad in Communist Red.
As the cold war rages, the Soviets leak news of a new superpower to bring an absolute end to the arms race. That superpower is Superman, and his astonishing abilities leave Americans grovelling in their lead-lined basements. Only Lex Luthor, the genius of Star Labs and husband to star-reporter Louis Lane, is unworried by the threat of Superman. Instead, Luthor finds himself excited by the challenge Superman poses, and begins his scheme to take down the Son of Communism.
In Moscow, Superman finds himself the adopted son of Stalin and a man of the people, spending his time between various disasters and dancing with Wonder Woman. And while Superman does not wish to be involved politically, Stalin’s sudden death throes the USSR into chaos. Something Luthor is more than willing to take advantage of with the unveiling of his Superman-clone. Finding himself in a pinch, Superman takes over the party reins and Stalin’s place as The Man of Iron. And this is how the world begins to change. But a few twists and turns remain, and by the end, you will see Superman in a whole new light.
Millar’s vision of Red Superman offers a cunning parallel to the classic Man of Steel. With appearances by other DC heroes, Red Son offers a compelling alternative that gazes deeply into the motivations of each character. Even with the sides flipped, each character remains essentially the same at the core, providing the reader with an amazing story of love, conflict, and error that is all too human. The art, stark and dark, is reminiscent of a few Batman novels, and provides an interesting mirror of the emotions playing through each scene.
As part of the Graphic Novels Challenge, this post is cross-blogged here.
Rating: 4 out of 5