Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

71iPHDbB3YLTitle: Superman: Red Son
Series: No
Universe: Elseworlds
Writer(s): Mark Millar
Illustrator(s): Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson & Walden Wong
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Paperback
Original Release Date: 2003
Pages: 160
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
ISBN13: 9781401201913


What if one of the greatest superheroes of all time didn’t have his rocketship crash-land in Smallville, Kansas? What if he were to have it rerouted into the Soviet Union? Would Superman grow up to become the same hero we have all known and rooted for? Under the hands of the great writer Mark Millar, we are presented with one of the best Elseworlds stories that has ever been written.

Best-selling writer of the Kick-Ass series, Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Civil War (A Marvel Comics Event) and Wanted, among other comics, Mark Millar reimagines the mythology behind the Man of Steel and creates an alien superman surrounded with communist ideals whose very existence threatens to alter the position of the United States as a world superpower during the Cold War.

Portrayed as the champion of the common worker, this Superman fights a « never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism and the international expansion of the Warsaw pact ». Throughout the story a whole lot of various known characters are introduced in this stand-alone story. From Jimmy Olsen to Lois Lane, Mark Millar does an impeccable job in putting these key characters from Superman’s lore in unique positions that create dynamics that you’d never thought you’d ever see them in.

As if it wasn’t enough to be immersed in this particular political landscape, an homage to the DC mythology that respects the core essence of each superheroes’ lore and the very foundation of their relationship to each other is interspersed within the narrative in a very spectacular fashion. The best part of it all, as a personal fanboy of course, is the introduction of Batmankøff—yes, you read that right. The crux of his well-known story is brought into Superman: Red Son and turns him into an anarchist with a very furry hat.

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While Superman might see Russia as his home, an inevitable a destined adversary also seeks to take him down in America. Indeed. It is none other than Lex Luthor. Their singular rivalry is illustrated as something incontestable, as if it were destiny. The traits that are often attributed to both Lex Luthor and Superman are still easily discernible in their actions and arguments as one vouches to help the common man while the other is in it to help himself. While their personalities were perfectly nailed, it is also safe to mention that Mark Millar doesn’t miss the mark with every other character in this story, even if they don’t have as much panel-time. Even the twist to their personalities are genuine, believable and entertaining beyond reproach.

With artwork that complements the quality of this story, there’s simply nothing that I could complain about. Pencillers Dave Johnson and Killian Plunkett bring all these characters to life with great designs that remain inspiring till the end. With iconic moments infused at a consistent and clever rate, this story packs a punch that promises to keep this story gripping from cover to  cover. Inkers Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong, as well as colourist Paul Mounts, complete the artwork with outstanding details by setting the unique mood of the era.

This story doesn’t only revel in its original take on these iconic characters during a time-period that we’re all so familiar with. It is also a look at the American and Russian politics and their long-standing complex relationship throughout time. Throughout the narrative, a whole analysis of two different political systems are explored (capitalism and communism) without ever dragging this action-packed story to the ground.

What really sealed the deal with this story is the mind-blowing and twisted ending. As you think that you’ve seen it all coming and that things would end on a very America-is-glorious tone, the story adds in a whole time-altering and paradigm-shifting ending that simply puts a smile on your face. Easily, Superman: Red Son is a story that absolutely anyone could pick up and enjoy. Long-time fans of DC heroes will also undoubtedly find even more joy in seeing how Mark Millar twists countless heroes’ origin story and creates one of the best Elseworlds story that I have ever read.

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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★

Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Superman: Red Son?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,

lashaansignature

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49 comments

  • So, can you explain to me that last panel and who Supes is supposed to be in it? I could never figure it out on my own.

    And Lois Lane, still kicking ass and being his Number One! It’s Destiny 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • This sounds totally cool. I love these “what if…”stories especially if they offer a very unique premise, and this sounds very, very cool! 😊😊. I also like theatres that is shown in the pictures. All in all I need to track this down now! Great post and fantastic review! 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read a couple of “what if..” stories for Batman and thought they totally failed. I lost hope in these “Elseworlds” stories, but I also told myself that I have yet to pick up the great ones, and I’m glad to be reassured that this one was a GREAT one. You should totally give it a shot. It’s not a series or anything and a great story to be picked up and read, and reread easily, at any time. Thanks for reading and for the kind words, Michel! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Yeahie!! 😀 So glad you read it and liked it too!
    Yes! That ending is what really sold it to me. Gosh it was awesome! I reread the whole thing again as soon as I finished it with the ending in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review mate, I’m well overdue a re-read of this little gem. Like your good self I really enjoyed the twist on the familiar elements of the Superman mythos and how the changes affect the representation of the various characters and their dynamics. I also particularly enjoyed the political commentary aspect, that for me is what great comics are about, exciting, fun, dramatic but also engaging on an intellectual level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely one of those storyarcs that I’d reread every once in a while. Mark Millar really nailed it in transforming the mythos, while still being loyal to it. It’s such a timeless piece really. And honestly, the political commentary is so rare nowadays that having it so focal to this story was fantastic. Thanks for reading bro! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • Okay I love the premise- it’s so different and it’s such an interesting thought experiment to re-examine the character this way. And I really like the sound of how it tied in Luther (and I like how you put it “Their singular rivalry is illustrated as something incontestable, as if it were destiny”) I think the artwork on the cover is already striking and reminiscent of Soviet propaganda- so I can see how it very much captured the mood. So curious about how this turns out!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 100% on that. It was a brilliant analysis of Superman’s character. Especially regarding his morality compass. And putting Luther up against him, across the world, was just brilliant. After all, what they each represent is pretty insane too! I do love what you had to say about the artwork. I would have loved to say that exact sentence if only I had a bit more knowledge on the similarities with Soviet propaganda, but something about it felt so authentic and similar though. I’d love to see how you fair with it if you ever try it out. It’s definitely a nice what-if story to try. Especially when there are a lot of what-if stories that just… suck hahaha 😀 Thank you so much for reading though!!! I heavily appreciate it!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah it’s such an interesting idea because I do see how that could really get to grips with some ideas like that- especially with regard to questions like nature vs nurture. I think that’s so clever as well! hehe you’re not missing out when it comes to Soviet propaganda (not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world)- but I really like how this fed into that cos it’s so smart how reminiscent it is of that 😉 Thank you! hahaha yes I can imagine- I can see why that would happen lol! You’re welcome!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  • I love alternate world premises! And it sounds like Miller really killed it. The premise of Elseworld stories is quite fascinating… Actually it sounds almost like a retelling sort of story. It’s really great how he seemed to make Superman’s relationships have that connectivity in the same way as the original story. Impressive 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. You can pretty much say that Elseworlds stories are retellings. They aren’t considered canon stories but have characters that we known being from canon. Miller totally nailed Superman’s mythos in this and gave us something quite original with lots of things to spot and enjoy. I’m convinced that a re-read would probably help me spot things I might have missed on the first attempt too! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  • Alternate universes are some of my favorite types of retellings.Superman:Red Son sounds like a WONDERFUL AU adaption! I am less familiar with the DC worlds than Marvel, however. You pointed out that anyone could pick this trade paperback up and enjoy it. Do you think people with limited understanding of Superman’s backstory, side characters, and relationships would get just as much out of it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s a brilliant alternate universe all right! And yes, it can be picked up by anyone. I mean, anyone who has basic knowledge of who Superman is, who Lex Luthor is and who can spot and recognize the big superheroes of DC (like Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.) And to my knowledge, everyone on Earth knows these hahah So this little gem of a story arc can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who is interested by its story! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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