Readers of The Lost Art

Superman: Red Son – Aaron’s Review

March 4th, 2009

Red Son 

Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett

Reviewer: Aaron


It’s a simple enough premise. What if the rocket ship carrying an infant Superman crashed 12 hours earlier or later than in the mainstream DC universe? What if that perfect symbol of Truth, Justice and the American Way ™ had not in fact crashed in a Kansas cornfield? What if it had crashed right in the middle of a Soviet collective?

It’s a hell of a set up, and in a lesser man’s hands it would have made a solid enough story. Take Superman and transform him into a symbol of Soviet oppression. A Man of Steel with Superman’s powers and Stalin’s brutality, paranoia and maybe even his moustache. The antithesis of the hero we’ve grown to know and love. Yeah, that would be good. But Red Son is better.

Red Son manages to present the reader with a straightforward, action story with a political edge and at the same time pepper the story with many of the elements of the Superman mythos that have embedded him so firmly in the comics landscape. The Fortress of Solitude, Lois Lane, The Daily Planet, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Kandor (well, okay, Stalingrad), Superman’s fellow JLA superheroes, hell, even Doomsday turns up for a panel. All are present and correct, along with many other off the cuff homages liberally spread throughout the narrative, never threatening to overshadow the story.

Most of this is down to Mark Millar. Communist. Writer of Marvel’s Civil War. These character flaws aside, Millar remains one of the finest writers of superhero comics working today. Combining an ear for a pithy one liner, a schoolboy enthusiasm for superhuman feats of violence, a vast knowledge of the genre and a knack for characterisation, Millar is a natural choice for the field, and for this project, as in Red Son all of these qualities are abundantly in evidence. Add to that an unusual (for Millar) respect for the character and gorgeous artwork from both Johnson and , in the final issue, Plunkett and you get a truly enjoyable reading experience.

Read it as a straightforward Superhero story. Read it as a Greatest Hits montage of Superman’s comic career. Read it as an allegorical look into Superman and his effect upon the world. But do read it. It’s well worth your time.

Format: Paperback
Publisher: DC Comics 2004
Language: English
ISBN: 1-4012-0191-1

(First published 30/08/2007.)

Comments are closed.