So it’s come to this. To be honest, I hadn’t read any comics in several years. A series of events changed that:
- Constant stream of superhero movies (as many bad as good, sadly).
- Letting Jackie talk me into reviewing the Novelization of Final Crisis by Greg Cox
- The outstandingly funny I’m a Marvel, I’m a DC channel on Youtube.
- Batman, Justice League, Avengers and Ironman cartoons that my superhero-loving four year old watches.
- Noticing there was a graphic novel section next to the video games at our new library.
Over the past ten years, I’d picked up the graphic novel versions of Secret Wars, House of M and Wolverine:Origins while in Barnes and Noble, but it wasn’t really a hobby – just a few purchases. Then the listed series of events happened and I picked one up. That was maybe 2 months ago and now I’ve read over half a dozen graphic novels compared to three over the last 10 years. Jackie, always the opportunist, tried to take advantage of my rekindled comic book hobby to get me to be her comic book reviewer.
I fought her attempts valiantly, but in the end, a communist Superman brought me down.
Strange visitor from another world who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands … and who, as the champion of the common worker, fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, Socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.
In this Elseworlds tale, a familiar rocketship crash-lands on Earth carrying an infant who will one day become the most powerful being on the planet. But his ship doesn’t land in America. He is not raised in Smallville, Kansas. Instead, he makes his new home on a collective in the Soviet Union!
Superman: Red Son is a grand What-If – what if Superman had been a few hours late to Earth? Superman has always been a man of the people, but what if those people were Communists?
The story is told from Superman’s point of view; being revealed to the world as the solution to nuclear proliferation; winning nation after nation and bringing them to the Soviet Union; watching the US crumble as a world power; watching his nemesis Luthor try again and again to stop him. When Stalin is killed, there is only one man who can succeed him.
Part of the brilliance in the execution is how other members of the DC world are inserted and interwoven with the story; Batman is a terrorist, Bizarro is a failed US response to the post-nuclear world, Wonder Woman is a diplomat, and Lois Lane is the neglected wife of Lex.
Ultimately, Luthor has no choice but to become President of the United States, balance it’s budget, and reinstate the US as a world power, leading to a final confrontation that is ended with a single, 12 word sentence.
To be honest, I was won. I was cheering at the end. The victory at the end of the story was a victory for the writers. But that wasn’t good enough. They had to add the Epilogue. With a story as good as this, there was no need, but the authors felt the need to ice the cake, and let me tell you, the icing was delicious – a final twist that was so good, I had to read it out loud to Jackie, I was that impressed.
I would gladly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. You don’t have to be familiar with the DC world to appreciate the quality of the storytelling. The dialog and artwork define the characters perfectly. The artwork has an aged, feel, as if recalling distant memories. You feel the pain, the loss, the victory, the hubris of the characters. It’s exactly what you hope for when you pick up a book on a fluke.