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Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

Superman: Red Son (2004)

by Mark Millar (Writer), Dave Johnson (Illustrator), Kilian Plunkett (Illustrator)

Other authors: Andrew Robinson (Inker), Walden Wong (Inker)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Superman (Elseworlds), DC Elseworlds (Superman)

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English (20)  French (3)  Finnish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
There are a lot of Superman stories that ask the question "what if Kal-El's ship had landed somewhere other than Kansas?" Elseworlds stories have landed him in Gotham, on Apokalips, in the 1800's, Switzerland, England, and others. One thing that's true in most (but not all) of these stories is that Superman eventually still emerges as a champion of right and general do-goodery, though the path is often long and complex. The message here is that, while John and Martha Kent's influence helped shape Kal-El into Superman, he's ultimately good at heart and would have more or less gotten there on his own.

Red Son, however, does not take this approach. The story sees Kal crashland in the Soviet Union, where he is eventually discovered by Stalin and shaped into the central figure of Communism. The book starts out in the same direction as so many others, with Superman trying to help humans, even Americans, often against the wishes of Stalin. But after Stalin dies, things take a hard right turn.

Superman eventually decides he's superior to humanity and decides he can do more as a benevolent dictator. He completely takes over the Soviet Union, managing nearly every aspect of its government and day-to-day operation. With the help of Braniac (!), he installs computers into the brains of his comrades to pacify them, and eventually the Soviet Union becomes so powerful that every country on Earth other than the United States joins them.

So who can save humanity from this dictator? Who is going to the champion of human rights and liberty? Who else but Lex Luthor, painted as the hero of the story for trying to bring down Supes. He's not alone though; within Superman's borders, a terrorist/protestor calling himself Batman attempts to bring down Superman as well. Luthor creates a series of creatures meant to stop Superman including Metallo, Bizarro, and Doomsday among others, and after discovering a powerful green ring creates an army of Green Lanterns. Wonder Woman also plays an interesting role, which I won't spoil here.

Really interesting, great art, great writing, almost too clever for its own good, with occasionally eyeroll-inducing cameos that just barely manage to work. The book is actually mostly dialogue and character development, it only occasionally devolves into page-after-page of people punching each other. And I appreciate that it takes the stance that the Kents and American values were essential to Superman's character; if Superman had been discovered by Communists, he'd have turned into an asshole. ( )
  rodhilton | Nov 14, 2014 |
Could you imagine if Superman landed in Canada instead of the United States? What if Joe Shuster tried to persuade Jerry Siegel that Clark Kent should grow up on a farm in Alberta or the snowy terrain of northern Manitoba? Or God help us, Newfoundland? What kind of a hero would he be then? Far too polite to get physical.

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nah, that’s just Superman, eh.”

Fortunately for us, the readers, Mark Millar gives us a more interesting scenario. What if Superman landed in Ukraine and became a part of the USSR at the height of the Cold War?

Becoming the right hand man and the eventual successor to Joseph Stalin, Superman puts the power in the palm of Communist Russia. Unfortunately for the United States, the dramatic shift in power creates chaos at home. While they still have the brilliant scientist Lex Luthor to claim as their own, he becomes obsessed with figuring out how to defeat Superman rather than using his intellect to advance his own society.

What develops over the years is very interesting and Mark Millar guides us through an alternate timeline in world history. Just what would happen if “President Superman” ruled over Russia? Would he retain his values or would absolute power corrupt absolutely? The answers may surprise you.

This experiment had a multitude of ways it could fall flat on its face and only a select few that would cause it to succeed. Fortunately for DC, Millar knew the right road to take. While this is the only core Superman series I’ve yet read, I have a hard time believing it can be topped (at least in my opinion). I knew enough about the character and the DC universe to keep my head above water, so you don’t need to be a comics historian to catch the jokes and changes in certain superheroes and supervillains.

The only real problem I have is the ending. I don’t think it really needed to go quite as far as it did. It was interesting to see where everything ended up after the core conflict was settled but it seemed to go on and on and on. In the end, it’s merely a small complaint - I loved the hell out of this book.

Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
An interesting twist in this Elseworlds tale lands Superman in the Ukraine in 1938, where he comes to stand for truth, justice, and the Soviet way. Millar more than succeeds in recasting Superman's friends and rogues gallery as well as several DC regulars. The story, in a manner similar to "World War Z," examines hypothetical geopolitical scenarios after introducing an x-factor to history. Without giving away any spoilers, the ending sells the whole concept and allows this Elseworlds story to rise above the general "what if" plots to become a truly transcendent tale. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Mar 3, 2014 |
This was one of those interesting "what if" scenarios. What if Superman had crashed in the USSR instead of the USA? Though I was a little confused at first because they just throw you right into it and it talks about Sputnik satellites yet Stalin is still alive and then later we find out it's only 1953. Another confusing thing is Soviet characters kept exclaiming God and Jesus but a true Soviet worker's paradise would be devoid of religion. I'm just saying. I also can't help but think it might have been better without working other superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern into it.

Anyway it did make for interesting reading with a fun twist at the end. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Clever, very clever, from start to finish.

However, I took exception to two things. First, the unrealistic portrayal of Joseph Stalin as both a devotee to communism rather than an atheoretical demagogue and a human being rather than what the Novaya Gazeta called a "bloodthirsty cannibal." The rise, rule, and brutal fall of Nikolai Yezhov, chairman of the NKVD, at the whims of Stalin provide a more realistic and interesting portrait of the "Man of Steel" and those who surrounded him. Second, the impossibility that Lex Luthor or Hal Jordan could have replicated Green Lantern Power Rings or impart Green Lantern powers onto an entire brigade of Marines. The Guardians of the Universe, who are virtually omniscient, would not have been pleased at such an abuse of their powers and I'm pretty sure they would've shut Luthor's GL Corps down before they fought the Last Son of Krypton. *Sigh*
  GYKM | Jul 4, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Millar, MarkWriterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DaveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Plunkett, KilianIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Robinson, AndrewInkersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wong, WaldenInkersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
DeSanto, TomIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, KenLetterersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the middle of the twentieth century, the telephones starting ringing all across America as rumors of my existence started circulating.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When the rocket carrying an infant Superman lands in the U.S.S.R. instead of the United States, his presence creates a very different universe for the familiar DC Comics characters.

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