Some of you are probably wondering why it's taken me so long to report on the Superman "Red Son" series, it being so very up my alley in so many ways. There was, however, an unexpected rush on this title at my local comic book shop, so it took me awhile to get my hands on this three-issue series as a result.
In fact, I've noticed a surging popularity in Cold War-themed entertainment lately. Consider, for example, the video game Freedom Fighters, in which you join a squadron of patriots resisting Soviet invaders through ground-fighting on the streets of New York. I guess in retrospect, by comparison with today's terrorists and corporate thugs, the Russians don't seem so bad after all. It also proves how elastic the concept of nostalgia really is--it can shine it's softening glow on almost anything, even one's former enemies.
At any rate, I liked almost everything about this "Elseworlds" series, which postulates a universe in which the baby Superman lands in Russia instead of the U.S. Rather than growing up to become an invincible hero, Superman becomes the perfect totalitarian leader, all-powerful and all-knowing.
I thought the permutations of the story were quite clever, as they extended to include other characters and storylines. In the "Red Son" universe, Batman, for example, becomes a dissident figure. The graphics, done in the style of Soviet propaganda posters, deliver equal wit. I especially liked Wonder Woman's costume, reworked in red and black, or the Big Brotherish graphic, shown here, which graced one of the covers.
With so much in this title that is tongue-in-cheek, I was truly surprised by the series' ending, which subtly shifted tone in order to deliver an unnerving time-shifting story.