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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman: Red Son #1

Superman: Red Son #1 (of 3)

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 30, 2003

Cover date: June 2003

Writer: Mark Millar
Penciller: Dave Johnson
Inker: Andrew Robertson

"Red Son Rising"

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel (adamdechanel@aol.com)



The story opens with Lois and Lex Luthor. Lois is a star reporter and Lex Luthor is a super intelligent doctor working for the government. They wake as a result of a call from Perry White about the Soviets new super-weapon.

News of the amazing Superman spreads fast, though details are sparing. Special agent Olsen and the President wonder what life would be like had Superman arrived in America as the entire country is buzzing with rumours, fear and suspicions.

The Daily Planet staff watches a promotional video in disbelief about the Soviets newfound status as the ONLY superpower. The President orders agent Olsen to enlist the help of Doctor Luthor's amazing brain.

Olsen is less than impressed that Lex has spent most of his funding on mental puzzles and games until Lex explained how he works...

"Solving problems is just like eating or breathing for me and this Superman you're all so worried about is just another problem."

Lex and Lois' happy marriage begins to crack under the strain of Luthors' intelligence and determination just as Lex puts into effect a plan of action.

The Russians lose control of the satellite Sputnik II courtesy of Lex and the American government. This 'disaster' sends Superman into action as he saves the Daily Planet building and introduces Lois Luthor to the Soviet of Tomorrow.

Superman reminisces over a work of fiction about Superman and Lois' adventures as a couple and in doing so soars away with Mrs Luthors' heart...

Meanwhile Luthor retrieves the satellite and begins to retrieve genetic material from it to create an American Superman.

Weeks later Superman Day takes place and as usual Superman rushes away to the rescue, prompting an argument between Stalin and his chief of police.

Not everyone in Russia likes having an alien in line for power of the country... Pyotr Roslov, the chief of police and secret son of Stalin feels threatened that his seat of power in the government is under threat.

During a 'blind date' for Superman and Wonder Woman, set up by Stalin and Hippolyta, Pyotr runs away and attempts suicide. Superman of course intervenes and has a long heartfelt chat with Pyotr. During the course of their conversation Roslov talks about the killing of a family (with scary similarities to the origin of the Batman...) and that how no matter what he does he'll never be better than a Superman.

Superman reassures him that he is not interested in politics. Just as Pyotr is confessing to another sin Superman has to rush back to Moscow...

Stalin is dead... poisoned...

Russia is now in political turmoil...

...and the country wants Superman in charge.

During the next few days of political confusion Superman II is released by Lex Luthor and a battle for power ensues...

Russia/Superman versus America/Superman II

Their amazing battle takes to the world and ends in Great Britain as the U.S navy launches two missiles in their direction.

The first missile kills thousands of Londoners and the battle of the titans halts as in the distance the second missile hurtles toward the city for a secondary blast and the world stares frozen in horror...

Superman II makes a startling decision. Suddenly the American 'enemy' freezes Superman and yanks the missile and himself deep into space... to die...

Back in Russia the funeral of Stalin takes place and again the public express interest in Superman controlling their country.

Superman again insists he's a worker NOT a public speaker interested in politics. He left the cornfields of the Ukraine to be a hero for the common man not a president.

Meanwhile Lois Luthor atop the Daily Planet building whispers that Superman is her dream man come true just as Lex phones with shocking news... the marriage is on hiatus, indefinitely till he defeats Superman.

In the final act Superman chances upon a face from his childhood, Lana Lazarenko. The two friends reminisce past events, the secrets they shared and the lives they now lead.

Lana introduces her children Jordan and Mehri and then startles Superman with shocking news of how Russia is truly suffering with no power to lead them...

Superman realises he has to take action not just for Lana but for the every man woman and child in Russia...

"Tell your friends they don't have to be scared or hungry anymore comrades."

"Superman is here to rescue them."

To Be Continued...

5Story - 5: Now this IS a well crafted book. Elseworlds are often formulaic, as a result they often end up being slightly bland.

Red Son, however is like a breath of fresh air. The story is clever and well crafted using a very simple twist but creating a very strong story with levels of depth I find are very rare in this medium these days in mainstream books. My negative point is maybe that Lex is maybe just a little too clever...

After reading this, the first chapter, I am eager for the next instalment! My regret is that like Generations III and Superman: Metropolis this title wasn't pushed for more than three issues. I found it every bit as engaging as the regular Superman series titles.

Maybe because of this, I feel the storyline seemed crushed into its 48 pages. This might change once the final issue is released but right now I doubt it!

4Art - 4: The art was fantastic. Dave Johnson's pencils compliment the story. Not heavily detailed but even so every panel and splash page is put together masterfully. I found myself hooked on the unique style. My two negatives sadly are the coloring which I found bland in some places and the photographs integrated into the artwork. I thought they didn't really compliment an otherwise top notch book.

5Cover Art - 5: The cover is great! Not too much going on but a hell of a lot of emotion and iconic symbolism make it speak volumes. The cover has a 'golden age' feel to it AND it compliments the story within. Perhaps I am being harsh but why the regular titles don't depart from busy-but-bland format go for something like this once in a while is beyond me...


Mild Mannered Reviews

2003

Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2003

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