Thursday, April 11, 2013

What if …

I love books that show me alternative perspectives, whether they come from history, from non-North American, or European viewpoints, alternate or parallel histories, are stories told from multiple perspectives, or stories with a twist.

So, OK, I've got a good one for you. 

What if Superman had landed in the USSR and not the good old USA, raised by good people from the Soviet farmlands and came into his powers at the height of the cold war?

Mind boggling, isn't it?

This is exactly the premise of Superman:Red Son by Mark Millar (and gang), a student recommendation that I'm glad I followed up on.

Superman is still portrayed as looking out for vulnerable humans, but eventually, after reluctantly taking on the mantle of President following Stalin’s death, he also has the capacity to enact laws that restrict humans so that they stay ‘safe’.  This raises some interesting questions. How far do we go to keep people safe?  What is the role of government with this question in mind?  How do political philosophies play out in reality?  Does power corrupt?

Other characters from the Man of Steel storyline also get alternative stories.  Lois Lane is a journalist, but is married to Lex Luther, a ‘concerned’ genius who thinks Superman is the corrupt force.  The United States is a ‘hold-out’ country on the verge collapse as it tries to resist Superman’s ‘the best way of living is the safest way which is my way.’  Batman is brought into the storyline too, as a rebel agent looking to take on the Communist regime, the political force that was responsible for the death of his parents.  Wonder Woman is Superman’s ally and unrequited love interest.

The production of the book is fantastic as are most DC Comics. Glossy pages and terrific illustrations with lots of iconic Soviet propaganda-like art work, are a treat to read.

I'd recommend this for grades 9/10 and up.


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