What it is: It’s everyone’s favorite, (if you’re boring), super hero, Superman! Sent from space as a babe to us to fight for truth, justice, and long breadlines. Mark Millar writes this 180-spin on the man of steel as the common man’s crusader. Landing 12 hours behind the schedule of his original storyline causes him to crash on a farm in the Ukraine. No more apple pie and baseball for our beloved hero as he grows up to become the savior of the collective, the red hammer and sickle blazing across his chest.
Why I dig it: It’s a highly creative story and one of my latest favored graphic stories. Mark Millar, of Kick-Ass fame, was truly struck by genius with this premise and translated the idea seamlessly to print with wonderful imagination while at the same time remaining very loyal to the original mythos of the Superman universe, (minus the whole communism thing, but you picked up on that, right?). The story features a very real Superman who is still very recognizable and relatable even when doused in red. He is still a hero through and through, only wanting to help people, Soviets and Americans alike. And since he’s faster that a Soviet court hearing, more powerful then vodka, and able to leap the Kremlin in a single bound, he is perfectly capable of doing so. The author also keeps it interesting by not repackaging the “capitalism=good, communism=bad” mantra that we in the 21st century find particularly tiresome, but instead focuses on the people within these institutions and how they themselves effect the systems of society. In addition to all of this we are treated to a wide cast of characters from the DC Universe who have gotten their very own reimagining, fitting nicely into the storyline. Possibly the biggest show-stealer is the Batman who is now an anarchist terrorist after his parents are gunned down by KGB. He bombs multiple buildings in one night and dodges KGB in the streets and alleys, sets up elaborate traps, ironically acting out very close to the Joker or even Bane in the Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, the scourge of Superman and his new collective state.
We are even given a showdown between this Batman and red Superman, something all of us DC junkies have been clamoring for, and it goes down deliciously as Batman nearly even defeats Superman. The rest of the cast is just about as interesting; Green Lantern as a retired airman gifted with alien powers, Bizarro as a genetic clone of Superman constructed by the American government as a counter measure to the Soviet’s Superman weapon, (General Turgidson would approve), Brainiac is still a crazed alien robot but is reprogrammed to aid Superman after his defeat. The most shocking of these reimagings however, is that of Lex Luther as he has hair, hair for Christ’s sake!
He is also married to Louis Lane, now Louis Luther. Luther is an American scientist repeatedly hired by his government to destroy Superman and takes to the task with much devotion after Superman defeats him in a game of chess. He eventually becomes president of the United States, further pitting him at odds with the man of steel, who himself is now General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Yes, it’s all quite exciting and fun until someone loses their humanity but I would, in a move unprecedented here at Power Cords, offer some critique of this piece of entertainment. What I will say is that plot points and conflicts are very brief and at times the story feel rushed. A fight between Superman and Bizarro not lasting much longer than a few panels. This left me wanting more, unsatisfied at some points. Much of what occurs within the plot goes unsaid as well, making the reader have to fill in the gaps based off of what the characters say. Now I’m all for audience involvement but some plot points could have been flushed out and would have added greatly to the graphic novel. At a mere 68 pages, it is certainly not a strain on one’s reading abilities. Therefore I believe the author could have taken more time and pages to really give us a tale worthy of fandom.
I know, now there’s all these negative waves coming out of your computer screen but I could not risk my integrity as man who’s website you’ve just StumbleUponed and had to give you the full story. Ultimately the piece comes together to give us a good read and I suggest you take it.