17 Mar 2016

From The Vaults: SUPERMAN: RED SON #1-3

While we spend a great deal of time engrossed in the current crop of comic books, let us not forget those fantastic tales from the past that still sit in amongst our collections and are always worth revisiting...

Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson, Walden Wong & Paul Mounts

Tom P: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will see Clark, Bruce and Diana unite on the big screen at long last. For my money, one of the finest clashes between DC's biggest players ever written is Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son. An 'Elseworlds' tale released in 2003, it asks what if instead of landing in Smallville, Kansas in the good ol' US of A, the ship containing baby Kal-el crashed down on a collective farm in the Ukraine in 1938, landing in the loving arms of Josef Stalin's communist Russia. This changes the course of the Cold War as he sculpts a socialist utopia that spreads across the nations of the world, with one exception: America. It really is a brilliant use of both comic lore and 20th century history that I fully recommend you should read.

"Superman: Pride of the Soviet state, symbol of our military might. Let our enemies beware. There is only one super-power now!"

This is how he is introduced to the world with pure propaganda and, after Stalin's death, he reluctantly becomes his successor, the very definition that all men are not born equal. One of the things that stands out is that this version of Superman is almost unstoppable. He's also super intelligent. When faced with the hungry people of Russia he uses his gifts to transform the country, then the world, but ultimately is he our saviour or just another tyrant?

"Batman: a force of chaos in my world of perfect order. The dark side of the Soviet dream."

Batman isn't even established as a Wayne. He's the son of two Russian dissidents who are shot and killed by the Communist Party for spreading anti-Superman leaflets. He grows up to be a terrorist of sorts and becomes a symbol of rebellion. Another thing that makes this Batman different is he has no vast fortune and works with relatively crude equipment. With the help of Lex Luthor he finally defeats Superman and almost succeeds in trapping him. I can't deny I love a good superhero battle and this clash is one of the highlights of Red Son.

"An outstanding convert of Communism. Diana had opted to leave her Amazonian paradise and fight with me for equality in a man's world"

Wonder Woman is really Superman's only equal and despite her friendship with him she seems to be kept at a distance and always seems unsure of him. She's amazed by Batman's resourcefulness and ultimately they make a great team but at a terrible cost. It's great dynamic and I for one can't wait to see how Wonder Woman will keep our heroes in check when she's finally unveiled on celluloid!

"What was the point of Lex Luthor? A human who dared to challenge a god?"

Lex is my favourite character in this comic. He starts as scientist employed by the United States to develop anti-Superman deterrents and rises all the way to the top to become President of the United States, resisting the New Communist World Order at any cost. Superman stimulates and inspires Lex to greatness. All he thinks about is his defeat. He longs for Earth to be free of his interference and control. Why I like him so much is he shows that humanity can defeat anything or anyone if we put our minds to it and I hope they nail Lex in this latest cinematic adaptation. I long for the cold, calculating and highly intelligent anti-hero I see in the comics. In a way, he represents that great part of the human spirit: that drive to challenge power.

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