Superman: Red Son


Author(s): Mark Millar, Dave Johnson & Kilian Plunkett

Published: 2003

Report Published: On Launch

QUAKE Magnitude: 5.7

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Field Survey

If you have ever wondered what would have happened had Superman landed, not on U.S. soil but in Soviet territory, in this brilliant graphic novel, you will find your answer.

Tom DeSanto’s introduction to the comic sums it up perfectly: “Good writing challenges the way you think. Great writing changes the way you think.” Never has a truer word been said. For a graphic novel to feature on QUAKE books is remarkable.

How does a comic cause a bookquake? By making you realise that Superman isn’t just a character. In fact he is entrenched in the “American Dream”, a symbol of everything we believe to be right, good and true in the world. At least that is what I used to think.

After all, what makes Superman a hero tells us a lot about what we value, what we aspire towards and ultimately, what we want in society. Millar and co, in casting Superman as the Soviet’s comrade and idol, turn everything on its head and in doing so they bring out fundamental answers to questions you never knew you had.

If you are one of those folks who only read fiction if it has something to teach you, Red Son is the perfect excuse you have been waiting for to go back to the comics! What is less floor shaking then that?


“Only the United States and Chile choose to remain independent: the last two capitalist economies on Earth and both on the brink of fiscal and social collapse.”

“Batman: A force of chaos in my world of perfect order. The dark side of the Soviet dream.”

“Superman had a clearness in his eyes which I thought separated him from the rest of his gender, but the truth is that he’s just as dangerous and power-obsessed as any other male.”

QUAKE Moment

Any challenge to what constitutes your childhood heroes leaves a mark. But above and beyond that Red Son did make me aware of how the “world’s superheroes” embody a very narrow viewpoint of what is “good” and what is “evil.”


I don’t think I will ever see Superman in the same light again. I know that from now on I will question, in a balanced way, the role of the superhero in educating our children and crafting our childhood personalities, which of course go onto shape us into adolescence and onto adulthood.

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