Millar, Mark. Superman: Red Son.

NY: DC Comics, 2003.

I enjoy reading graphic novels, but not usually the classic superhero comics. Just not my thing. This is a special case, though, an alternate history approach to one of the icons of American popular culture:

What if young Kal-L’s rescue ship had arrived on Earth twelve hours later and had crash-landed on a Ukrainian agricultural collective instead of a Kansas farmstead? We’re all the product of our surroundings and upbringing, so it’s reasonable to think that Superman would become a champion of Stalinism instead of American democracy, right?

It’s an interesting premise and Millar does some neat things with it. Superman wants only to help people, but in this world, that means taking complete control after Stalin’s death and instituting a global Warsaw Pact. Of course, that also means his lifelong adversary, the genius Lex Luthor, has to become America’s only hope in opposing “the alien.” Luthor marries Lois Lane along the way but doesn’t have much time for her (he’s too busy playing chess against computers, in between inventing things), so she replaces Perry White as editor of the Daily Planet instead. The Batman is here, too, in full revenge mode. (And in a Cossack hat.)

Millar strikes a good balance between tongue-in-cheek irony and straightforward action. I wish he could have worked in a few more of the classic villains, though.

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