Superman: Red Son is an Elseworld* story depicting what the Cold War would have been like if our “good old American farm boy” landed in Soviet Russia rather than Kansas, USA. The Soviets waste no time in capitalizing on Superman’s powers. Stalin has even taken him on as a protege, hoping to have Superman take control of Russia after him.
It’s interesting to note that in Red Son Superman doesn’t have an alter-ego. He never has to hide his powers – he is always Superman. This is sometimes jarring to those of us familiar with the humanized side of Clark Kent. Many of Superman’s actions in Red Son would have benefited from Kent’s moral decision-making.
This is the first Elseworld story I’ve read and I really enjoyed seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar situations. For example, Lois Lane still works at the Daily Planet, but since she never meets Superman she ends up with Lex Luthor. Without Superman to foil his plans in the U.S.,
Lex eventually becomes president. Hippolyta and the Amazons originally rub elbows with Stalin. My best guess for this change is because the only other “super” is in Russia and not the U.S.
Red Son was published in 2004 and I have to say that I’ve heard of it but I’m honestly surprised that I had never heard about the ending. No spoilers here except that apparently Grant Morrison gave Mark Millar the idea for the mind-bending Elseworld ending. If that gives you any clue as to what’s in store… I almost dropped the book when I read it. I just can’t believe no one had ever spoiled it for me. Thank you, geekdom!
Red Son is definitely a must-read for Superman fans and for superhero fans who want to see something different from our heroes.
*Elseworld stories take our heroes from their usual settings and puts them into strange times and places – some that have existed and others that can’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t exist.