With the release of the animated version of this story on the horizon, this seems like an ideal time to review the original ‘Elseworlds’ story, Superman: Red Son.
Now, before I go on, I must say that shamefully, reading it for this review is the first time that I have read this story. I know, I know…
What if Superman had landed in Soviet Russia instead of Smallville, Kansas? DC’s “Elseworlds” series imagines an alternate take on the Superman story with “Comrade Superman” becoming ruler of Soviet Russia, slowly taking over the world while an independent America led by Lex Luthor fights against an increasingly unhinged and totalitarian-minded Man of Steel.
Yes, what If the spaceship carrying Kal-El to Earth, rather than Smallville, crash landed in Russia? This Elseworld tale gives us an imaginative take on the origin of the Man of Steel. This story of ‘Comrade Superman’, from a young man with high ideals to an isolated and intolerable megalomaniacal ruler of Soviet Russia, who wants nothing more than to mould the world in to what he believes is utopia. From hero to a dark figure taking his absolute power to the limit.
Superman is obviously the star of this book, yet Lex Luthor runs him a very close second. As with Superman, Mark Millar does a wonderful job of writing the character. Arrogant, ruthless yet at times charming, funny; his tireless efforts of bringing down Superman are written with such imagination. Lex Luthor, thanks to these efforts, an American superhero in his own right. Millar brings such nuance to the character. Rather than seeing him as a cartoon villain, the characterisation of Lex in this book hits all the right notes.
Throughout this book we are treated to some really great moments. It really is non-stop all the way through and really thrilling for comic book fans. We see new imaginings of Wonder Woman, Bizarro and the Green Lantern Corps; all are wonderful but Russian Batman comes out on top for the best alternate take on a DC superhero. In this is an urban terrorist, he lives in the sewers and goes to extreme lengths to destroy the Red Man of Steel. One scene in particular may well have you reminiscing of the Frank Miller story “The Dark Knight Returns”, before becoming more extreme.
Overall, Red Son is one of the best Superman books to ever have been released. Mark Millar has written something special with this story. Great imagination throughout, one super set-piece to the next. Alongside amazing art from Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett, we are treated to such wonderful visuals, escalating to an inspired, yet unpredictable ending. To any fans of the superhero genre, this is a must read. Even if superheroes are not your thing but you enjoy comic book stories, or even just the written word without the visuals, I would urge all to make this a part of your collection.
In fact, I think my DC World colleague and good friend Max Byrne put it best when he told me “It’s the f***ing dogs b*llocks mate…” He is quite right ya know, it really is.
Now I’ve read this brilliant book, I am excited for the release of the animated movie. I know that there’ll be a certain amount of artistic licence with the source material and that is to be expected, especially after what we have seen in the DCAU so far. It’ll be difficult to fit all this book in to one hour and a half movie. Providing we do get the crux of the story, it may not be too much of a problem. But there are scenes in this book that would look amazing on-screen.
- But that’s enough from me on this; I’d like to know what you think of the book and what your hopes are for the upcoming movie. Let us know below or on the socials.
Superman: Red Son will be released February 25th on digital download. It will also be released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 16th and is available to pre-order now on the Warner Bros website.