Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson
(DC Comics, 2014, 168 pages)
I was prompted to read this one after hearing it mentioned in a great Geek Week lecture by one of our librarians. There’s a cool motion comic that goes along with it [here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG0UUdGI01o].
This comic imagines a world where Superman grew up in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. We all know that Superman has a bit of a messiah complex, and in this alternate universe, that impulse turns him into a full-fledged totalitarian dictator. As his control tightens, he is challenged by Batman, who fights the expansion of the state’s power under Superman. Under Superman’s control, the Soviet Union brings order to the world, with the exception of America and its president, Lex Luthor.
The idea behind this comic is really clever. On a visual level, seeing Superman’s red “S” transformed into a hammer and sickle is striking, and it really embodies the tension of placing this all-American hero in a communist state. The artwork and the story are both excellent, and this collection of three comics stands on its own as a story. I enjoyed it as much or more than any superhero comic I’ve read.