Books that just didn\'t work for me: Red Son

Red Son is one of those books which I very much wanted to like and yet somehow liking it eluded me.

The basic conceit of the graphic novel (what would have happened had Superman\’s spacecraft landed in the Soviet Union rather than the United States) seemed to be a perfect jump off point for a book that would at the very least amuse me. Instead I found myself strangely excluded/alienated by the book. After reading it for the first time I set it aside and returned to it again yesterday only to find it less interesting and more excluding than on my first attempt.

I think the problem was that I was looking for a book that grappled with the unexamined nature of Superman\’s support for \”American values\” by showing what we would think about someone of Superman\’s powers and nature if they had just as unquestioningly supported a different set of values. I was looking for a book that made its readers consider just how examined their own values were and just how examined their loyalties were.

Given the number/range of people who suggested that I might enjoy/appreciate Red Son I will assume that I didn\’t bounce of it simply because it isn\’t a well written/well drawn graphic novel. I am tentatively putting it into the list of \”things which I would have enjoyed more if I hadn\’t approached them with a misunderstanding as to which genre they belonged in.

4 thoughts on “Books that just didn\'t work for me: Red Son

  1. What did I get? Really just an alternate Superman universe in which Superman lands in the Soviet Union and goes to first support Stalin and then take his place. There are alternate timeline versions of just about everyone (Wonder Woman, Batman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor) and focuses at great length on the alternate Luthor. Oh, and it gives you an alternative \”where did Superman come from\” story.So, really an alternate universe Superman story.

  2. So basically just \”these are how these people might have worked out differently\” but not the \”why\” that's the interesting part of an alternate history story… Oh well.

  3. I read that one years ago, and enjoyed it for what it was. It was definitely not something to make a typical American reader question his or her own loyalties. The authors started with the assumption that Communism is just plain WRONG, and the point of the book was to see if Superman would realize that by the end, despite growing up steeped in it. Remember that most mass-market entertainment in America today doesn't give a flying fig about what the _audience_ thinks, or the _audience's_ values. The whole story is about what the Hero thinks, and what are the Hero's values. Dimestore morality plays.And I don't think I'm specifically spoiling much if I say that Superman's conclusion at the end of the book is rather \”Lassaiz-Faire\”. I found the book interesting because I'm a flaming Leftist who often assumes that collectivism would be better than the individualistic system I live under, so it _did_ cause me to check some of my own assumptions. I particularly liked the line about \”Would you put the world into a bottle?\” I'm still a flaming Leftist but the graphic novel did cause me to think some more.

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