I finally read Mark Millar’s Elseworld’s mini-series “Red Son.” It’s not bad. I mean, it’s okay, but I’ve been sitting around a lot and it’s come back into my thought processes several times.
The big idea is, I guess, that Superman is good no matter where he lands — usually this is how things pan out in Elseworlds books, so I should be used to it by now. Or people should come up with a better idea. This is, after all, Soviet Russia. I could see Superman going one way or the other, all good or all evil, but the Superman we get here is, considering his placement in this world, a bit wishy-washy. If he landed in Ukraine in 1934, that country had just come out of a huge Soviet government-plotted famine to break the spirit of the people, bring them under stricter Soviet control, and force them into collective farming. This scarcely seems like an environment that would lead a family to instill its government’s ideals into their spacebaby the way the Kents did in the “real” DC Universe. Not to discount educational systems in fascist states, of course, which do fine jobs of indoctrinating children.
And let’s not forget that thuggish tool shed Josef Stalin, responsible as he was for the deaths of millions of his own people, down to those who worked side-by-side with him. It’s hard to imagine a man of his ego not being threatened by someone with Superman’s power, no matter what side the farm boy picked. And the killing was constant, throughout the gulags, in the forests, the farms, and Siberia. Many mentions are made of Superman’s awesome hearing, and if I’m to believe he’s still Superman, willing to help save people no matter what government they reside under, surely he could hear all the screams and would have reacted to them.
I also have trouble with the idea that someone raised on Communist ideals, so close to Stalin, managed to wrangle the entire world without shedding any blood. The threat of Superman vaporizing you must have been enough to keep people in line, not to mention slapping computerized attitude adjusters on folks’ heads if they do.
Perhaps I’m thinking too hard. It’s not all bad. Some of it is actually very good, especially the portrayal of Lex Luthor syooper geenius with his bevy of robots and various Superman-dispensing weapons, and the Russian Batman in his kicky winter gear. But I also feel that, on the whole, it’s overwritten and poorly thought out. And Grant Morrison really should have saved that ending for himself, though he probably has ideas like that while he takes a whiz in the morning.