Superman: Red Son


His tights had been drained from the cheery blue, yellow and red to a dishwater-dull gray, with the exception of the violent crimson that fills the mechanical pentagon on his chest, the entirety of his cape and his belt buckle. Cold and determined, his eyes bear an eternal stare; his body is torqued and wound for action. He grips a silver pole with the scarlet banner of the former Soviet Union that bears a hammer and sickle similar to the one emblazoned across the top half of his torso. This was my first introduction to the world of Superman: Red Son, through the expertly crafted figure made by DC Direct.

Although it was released more than a fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, the effect of seeing Superman in that costume is still staggering. Always a huge fan of both Superman and controversy, I knew I had to tear through Red Son, and finally got the opportunity to do it after I realized how easy it would be to work graphic novels into my budget.

Superman: Red Son, the Elseworlds graphic novel (that inspired the figure) by scribe Mark Millar and a slew of artists, including Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong, is, through and through, a thoroughly developed and dense shocker, especially given the amount of material stuffed into its relatively brief 148 pages.

As is the case with most Elseworlds stories, traditional DC characters are plunked out of the sometimes staid and familiar continuum, like Superman’s, and rewritten into a different context. In this case Millar strives to answer the question, “What if Superman had landed in Russia instead of the United States?”

Millar responds to his own question with tenacious severity, something I was very satisfied with because, as I mentioned earlier, I had been itching to read this book ever since I became aware of its existence. However, because this is Superman, anyone reading this comic (or with a passing familiarity with Super Friends) should not be surprised to be able to guess most of the other DC Universe characters who make appearances. Without revealing names, let me say this: Millar seamlessly weaves in these characters without making it seem anything remotely close to a shameless cameo-fest. Some of the appearances came as a complete surprise to me.

Despite the variety of artists, the look is consistent and pleasing to the eyes, with the general Superman body template being taken from the legendary Max Fliescher cartoons of the 1940s. A bonus is the look at the concept art appended at the end of the book. Extra material or not, I would have enjoyed this story had it been scribed on a roll of toilet paper. I highly recommend it—even on my third reading, missed details continued to reveal themselves.