Monday, February 13, 2006

Superman: Red Son

In spending the last few weeks talking about what Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus, I thought I would continue that thread by talking about some other things that I've been reading or have read recently or watching. Basically my entertainment consumption.

And for a left turn from the typical spiritual books, I offer Superman: Red Son.

I'm not typically a comic book fan, but I am a superhero fan. I really enjoyed the first two Superman movies, Batman Begins, and the Spider-Man movies. Not just for the action, but the character studies of such people and how they can exist in our world.

I'm also a fan of "What if?" stories. I really like thinking about other possibilities of how things could have worked out. What if the Nazis had won WWII? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if Mohammed had never left the monastery he stayed in? What if George Washington had sued for peace instead of continuing to fight?

The story of Red Son is particularly intriuging to me, because it postulates what might have happened if Superman landed on earth 12 hours earlier and landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas. As a result, Superman becomes someone who fights for truth, justice, and the Soviet way. All of the typical characters from the Superman mythology appear: Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Braniac, Bizarro, etc. Also making an appearance in various forms are Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern, noting of course that they all appear in a skewed manner because of Superman landing in the Ukraine.

I won't spoil any of the plot twists of the story, because I found them interesting and some of you might want to find them out for yourselves. What I did find really intruiging was the positive look it took at Communism. Even though Superman was working for Stalin, he was still an altruistic figure (Superman, not Stalin [whose name coincidentally enough means "Man of Steel" in Russian]). The trick was how the absolute power Superman obtains even corrupts him and he has to decide whether to succumb to a desire to force people to accept his "peaceful" rule or to let them make the decision for themselves. It really highlighted some of the things I read in McLaren, talking about how the Kingdom of God is one of the heart and forcing people into certain actions doesn't change their hearts, just their actions.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this graphic novel and if you've got similar interests, you might dig it up in a library somewhere or spend a couple of hours in a Barnes and Noble with it.

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