Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Commie Superman

Superman: Red Son
Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett

I haven’t read much of Mark Millar’s stuff, but what I have read leads me to believe he’s hideously overrated. I only read his first two story arcs on The Authority, but I felt that they weren’t as good as the stories Warren Ellis began the series with. Still, it wasn’t that bad.
However Red Razors is horrible. It’s just bad and stupid and urgh, I wish I’d never bought it. But this is a review of Superman in the Soviet Union. Not a Judge Dredd type character in SovBlock.

Superman: Red Son has the interesting premise of Superman’s spaceship landing in Ukraine instead of Kansas. Superman is brought up to fully believe in Stalin and the communist state. In the fifties he is brought to the attention of Stalin, who uses him to help prevent disasters and also to show how superior communism is. Meanwhile Lex Luthor is the greatest genius in America, and he spends his time creating ideas to bring down the communist menace that is Superman.

Superman begins turning the world to communism. Not through force, but through his ability to save everyone and make people’s lives better. If a country was communist then his protection expanded to them. If it wasn’t then he usually left them alone. America begins to collapse (though eventually begins to turn around thanks to Luthor). But which side will win? Communism represented by an alien super being or capitalism represented by a human.

The idea of the book is great, but the way it’s pulled off just doesn’t work that well for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s Millar’s writing style, maybe it’s the way he went with certain ideas that I would have done differently. I don’t know, I just finished reading this and felt deeply unsatisfied. The idea hadn’t been lived up to.

Okay, so I’m a massive Russian geek. How’s the Russian stuff hold up? It’s alright, I have major problems with some bits where signs in the Soviet Union are in English right next to ones that are in Russian. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Similarly there are a few places where letters are flipped around to make things look Russian. I can’t understand why this is done; I mean why use the Cyrillic alphabet sometimes but not others. It’s not even a case of it being different pencillers, this happens in one panel in some cases. The art’s pretty good though, I like the designs of Soviet Superman, and the designs of the monsters Luthor creates to battle Superman.

On the upside it did actually seem like Russia (or the Soviet Union I guess). One of my problems with Red Razors was that it claimed to be set in the Soviet Union, but it might as well have been America with signs in Cyrillic.

So how is it overall? It’s, um, okay I guess. There are some good parts, and there are some bad parts, but overall I can’t really recommend it.

Link: http://theages.superman.ws/History/redson/: Mark Millar on Superman: Red Son


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