My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mark Millar’s got the alternate reality/universe/elseworlds thing down. Between Superman: Red Son, Ultimate X-Men, and Old Man Logan, he has penned some bomb-ass shit. He’s got some haters out there. He certainly isn’t the most sensitive dude. But boy can he write some fun stuff. Anybody that can get me to sit through a Superman book has some talent. Sorry, not a lot of love for the boy in blue.
Well in Red Son he’s actually the boy in grey. In this twist of fate story, Kal El crashes in Russia instead of Kansas and is raised under Stalin’s communist regime. Cool idea. Some similarities remain. He grows up in a farming community, he initially is just interested in helping his people, and he ultimately falls into the service of his nation’s government. I read some complaints that Supes was not different or “evil” enough. I like that Millar just doesn’t do the communist = bad thing here. Superman is still basically a good guy that wants to do the right thing. Making him evil or “bad” might sorta imply that all people in Russia were malevolent Stalinists. And I’m pretty sure that was not the case. He does evolve in this universe a little differently than he did in traditional DC continuity. So does Lex. One thing remains the same though. Even though Luthor can balance the budget and cure cancer, he still hasn’t been able to improve on hair club for men. You’d think he would put 5 or 10 fuckin’ minutes into that one, right?!?
A ton of cool references in this one and a bunch of familiar faces show up including Lois, Perry, Jimmy, and of course, Lex. There are some familiar, yet different, versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, and a couple of other surprise Leaguers that also make appearances. I really dug this “Anarchy in black” version of the caped crusader. Even the hat. Princess Diana was initially a little bit too much of a lovesick school girl for me, but managed to come around by the end. Overall I really enjoyed Millar’s take on these classic heroes.
Dave Johnson does a terrific job on the artwork with this book. Known mostly for his covers (100 Bullets, The Punisher, and some Batman stuff), I really enjoyed seeing him put in some work on this book. His style has always appealed to me and I wish he would do more interior stuff. Sorta reminded me a little of Eduardo Risso.
Anyone that enjoys alternate reality or “Elseworlds” stories like Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Dark Knight Returns, Old Man Logan, or Kingdom Come would probably get a kick outta this one. If you’re a Millar fan and you haven’t read this, your missing out.