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Superman: Red Son #2

Posted: Saturday, June 14, 2003
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Mark Millar
Artists:Dave Johnson,Kilian Plunkett(p),Andrew Robinson,Walden Wong(i), Paul Mounts(c)
Publisher: DC

"...In a different reality, I might have called you friend."--The Romulan Commander to Kirk: "Balance of Terror" Star Trek

Red Son's second chapter jumps forward in the elseworlds time line. The war between Luthor and Superman escalates, the war between Batman and Superman almost becomes decided. The Soviet Empire of Superman strengthens while the United States crumbles.

Mark Millar says much with this series and more specifically with this second issue. On a grander scale, he identifies the Soviet run world of Superman as flawed but not evil. The Man of Steel still wishes to help people all around the world, and you can clearly see him as a hero when he prevents the loss of life. There is more freedom in his empire. You can speak out against him even if he does possess super-hearing. Criminals however are dealt with severely through a chilling reference to the silver age.

It is doubtful that Superman would have imposed the same punishment on Batman. Last issue we watched his birth. This issue portrays Batman as a Robin Hood-like terrorist. His ends do not justify his means, but he still will not take a life. He will gladly destroy the grandeur of Superman, but he will not kill even the Man of Steel.

There is a divide between these two heroes that's more interesting than light and dark. Their culture and history separates them. Batman cannot see the taint in his own actions. Superman cannot see the immorality of his absolute power. The irony is that Batman, a being of fear, can teach Superman how not to make the people he seeks to protect afraid of him. Together these two can produce a Utopia. At odds, there's a distinctive piece of the puzzle missing.

The communist empire of Superman is lily white when compared to the seediness of the United States government. Even one of the greatest of the American Presidents cannot keep Humpty Dumpty in one piece. Secession is the order of the day, and Luthor's evil plots under the auspices of the government do not just tarnish the reputation of the once great superpower. They shatter it.

If the United States would have allied themselves with Superman and not immediately have become his enemy perhaps both superpowers would have benefited--that Utopia I mentioned. This I believe is Mark Millar's political point.

The United States in reality has allied itself with murderous cutthroats including the boogeyman himself, Osama Bin Laden, all in an effort to disrupt what Eisenhower called the Domino Theory. In so doing the past administrations have created many of the problems that we now face today. These thoughts crystallize when a recognizable evil, who does not even behave like a hero to his own people, becomes the United States' attack dog against Superman who despite maintaining a different philosophy with a few scary elements still manages to be a knight on the chessboard of the world.



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