By Mark Millar (W) and Dave Johnson (A).
Cover price $17.99. Published by DC Comics, 2003. Originally printed as Superman: Red Son #1-3.
Plot: In as little words as possible, this book raises the question, “What if Superman’s rocket crash landed in the Soviet Union instead of the United States?” There is, however, quite a bit more to it than just that. The first issue takes place in the 1950’s, the second in the 1970’s, and the final one in the year 2000. Superman is used by the Soviet government to realize the full strength of socialism, but his acts are viewed by some as totalitarian and limiting of civil liberties. The main Superman detractor is an anarchist terrorist type who goes by the name of the Batman. I bet you’ve heard of him. One of Superman’s main allies in this is Wonder Woman, who eventually gets out of the game, as it’s just too much for her to handle. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, is America’s top scientist and leader of the movement to bring Superman down. He uses such tactics as creating a Bizarro clone of Superman, as well as enlisting the aid of the Green Lantern Marine Corps, headed by Colonel Hal Jordan (or was it Major? I can’t remember, nor do I care). If you want to know more, you’ll have to buy it. The question is, should you?
Strengths: Yes. The Batman is worth the cover price alone. The way he brings the fight to Superman in the second issue is phenomenal. They make no mention of Kryptonite in this limited series, so Batman has to come up with something even more clever. What could that be? Red sun heat lamps. It’s just amazingly fun. Lex Luthor is also brilliant in his role as, well, duh, Lex Luthor. And, for once, he’s a good guy and stuff. There’s a lot of politics in this baby, and it’s all quite engaging. Sounds like fun, right? What could be wrong with it, then?
Weaknesses: Not much, really. It doesn’t really hold up as a logical Elseworld with the one change being that Superman landed on a Ukrainian farm instead of a farm in Kansas, because you’ve got characters like Jimmy Olson working as a secret agent instead of a photographer. Why would Superman landing somewhere else change Olson’s life choices? There are a couple of little quibbles like that, but, seriously, it doesn’t amount to much other than over-nitpicking. Which is stupid.
Grade: A. I know, I give high scores to most everything, but that’s because I don’t buy a lot of stuff unless I know I’m going to probably like it. The fact that this is one of my all-time favorite books also factors into my grading. Simply put, it’s a great read, and it’s a heckuva lot of fun. Do you like fun? Then you should buy this. If you don’t like fun, well, you’re just kind of weird.