Monday, February 01, 2010

Superman didn't get into heaven, saving the world for Marx and for Lenin

I've been introducing my kids to the What If? Comics from Marvel. They are wacky takes on what would have happened to classic Marvel story lines if some bit of history had been altered. One classic has Spiderman stopping the criminal that would have gone on to kill Uncle Ben. So instead of changing his ways and becoming a crime stopper, he just stays an entertainer. A lot of them are tongue in cheek like that.

DC, generally the lighter in tone line, has a darker set of alternate universe books called Elseworlds. One of those tales is called Red Son. It's big twist is that instead of landing in Kansas, the young Kal-El lands in the Ukraine and Superman grows up to be a Hero of the Soviet Union. This is not good news to the US, but they can rely on their own super-power, the brain of Lex Luthor. The Russians have their own home grown threat, thanks to the callous murder of dissident parents before the eyes of their child.

This could have been played for laughs or made into a simple role reversal, Mark Millar makes it a study of tyranny and the perils of pursuing complete security. In the US, Superman took on the American ideals, in Russia, he takes on the communist ideals. Everyone must be safe, equal and obedient. This leads to a Welcome to the Monkey House state in Russia, that comes to dominate the entire planet.

The book has an excellent finish as well. It's a nod to many other science fiction stories as well as being true to the Superman lore.

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