15 April 2009

Superman: Red Son–I Love A Good Homage

2029.I've just finished Superman: Red Son, the 2003 Elseworlds version of the classic Superman story, and it was immensely entertaining. Mark Millar and the team of artists managed to invert the story into one in which Superman became the great Soviet Hero who eventually spread Communism, peace, and proseperity around the world, creating great alternate versions of classic characters Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olson, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern, each striving, each incredibly flawed, and with new twists that combine both dark and light motives in unexpected ways, and whose stories resolve into a future with an Ouroboros-y twist.

The story covers three eras: The 50's where the USSR goes public Superman and rewrites the entire dynamic of the Cold War; The late 70's, where a President John Kennedy and his wife Marilyn speak with America's greatest genius, Lex Luthor, about how a crashed UFO in Roswell can help the USA defeat Superman, and the year 2001, where a President Lex Luther finds a way ... well, you'll just have to read the story.

There are many deft and subtle remarks and metareferences between this alternate world and our own. My favorite comes on page 109. The scene: Superman and the Soviet Union have unified the entire Earth, save for Chile and the USA, into a global Communist Union where peace, plenty and true prosperity are the order of the day ... as well as a lack of dissent, enforced by Superman himself. Lex Luthor is just yet to be elected President of the United States.

Meanwhile, in Superman's Winter Palace – this alternate world's version of the Fortress of Solitude – Brainiac, apparently turned to Superman's service, goes over the US situation with Superman. But there is a fun similarity in the picture from the USA:

On the left, of course, the famous cover of Action Comics issue 1. On the right, the scene from the strife-torn USA. Click upon the image to embiggen.

That fellow in the lower left hand corner could be that orginal dude's grandfather!

I love a good homage, and when it pays a compliment to one's knowledge of history, it's an even better treat.

NB: The cover of Action Comics #1 is copyrighted by DC Comics and is used here strictly for illustrative purposes in the spirit of the doctrine of fair use, as is the graphic clipping from the graphic novel Superman: Red Son, with no intention of infringing on ownership or copyright rights but for the purpose of commentary only.

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