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Superman: Red Son

Superman: Red Son - Dave Johnson, Mark Millar, Walden Wong, Kilian Plunkett, Andrew    Robinson Alternative history stories are like dream sequences. You get to do all sorts of things you would never do to your beloved characters in "real life"... but it's okay! They're in "just kidding" mode, so anything goes! When it's all over, the franchise will be intact like nothing happened -because it didn't. Wanna see Superman kill Batman? We got it here! Wanna see Batman tie up Wonder Woman with her own golden lasso, in a way that makes you feel a little bit sorry for her, but is also damn sexy? Come and get it! Wanna see Wonder Woman break free and kick Batman's ass in a way that's even sexier? Buy it while supplies last!The premise is great: instead of crashing in Kansas and being raised by the wholesome Kent family, what if Superman had crash landed on a collective farm in the Ukrane, and been raised in Stalin's Soviet system? The writing is very thoughtful about this... how it would have changed the Cold War, what America's response would have been, even how the lives of Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen would have been different. There are also some other little details thrown in, which worked well. JFK didn't get assassinated. He divorced Jackie, married Marilyn, and won a second term. Also, in a computer "error" which nods to Diebold, Lex Luthor wins the American Presidency by 101% of the popular vote. I liked all of that. Supes is the same well-intentioned guy he always was, except here he's drunk the Marxist Kool-Aid, so he's brainwashed with all the heavy-handed ideology about the Workers' Paradise and so on. It's probably what fans bought this edition to see, and fortunately the writers don't wear it too thin. The illustrations deserve special recognition, because the whole setting has a true, otherworldly "alternative history" feel. Also, the Russification of the costumes was very well done. I particularly like Batman in Russified form: Complaint DeptOkay, so nothing's perfect. Overall, this was a great comic, and well worth the time and money spent to enjoy it. There were, however, a few elements that annoyed me:1) Joseph Stalin is portrayed as genuinely believing the ideology of Marx and Lenin, and enthusiastic for the opportunity Superman presents to spread them. I would argue that Stalin only saw these philosophies as a convenient avenue to power. When Koba privately gushes over what Superman will mean for the workers of the world? ...that doesn't fly with me. Stalin would have used Superman to consolidate and expand his own power. If he couldn't control Superman, he would have been looking for a way to kill him.2) In the regular franchise, Lex Luthor is supposed to be smart, but not as ridiculously smart as we get here. He simultaneously plays chess on 81 different chessboards (and wins every single game, natch), while teaching himself Urdu, and redesigning the Dept of Energy's supercomputer?? WTF is this? -a cartoon? Let's keep it real, folks!3) The writers' ideas about economics and politics are very naive. In one scene, Luthor proves his genius (once again) by providing a government official with "the formula" which will allow Congress to balance the budget! ...as if everybody wants to balance the budget, but they just aren't sure what numbers would bring it into balance! I guess once they have the formula, they'll forget about earmarks, porkbarrel spending, and expensive projects to enrich their own districts? Gimme a break! 4) ***SPOILER ALERT*** The suprise ending was so close, yet missed the mark. The last two pages would have been perfect, if they would have chosen any other time and place, so as to suggest new possibilities, or a tie-in to the canonical Superman world. Making the whole story a recursive loop was just lame.