DC’s Elseworlds series take well-known and well-loved comic book characters and gives them a new twist. Batman is a perennial favourite of Elseworld writers, but Superman has also generated his share of classic alternative storylines. In True Brit, for instance Kal-El, is—as the title suggests—sent to England in a storyline that mocks comic conventions and the uptight British psyche in equal measure.
Red Son has a more serious tone, but an equally interesting premise, where the spaceship bearing the last survivor of Krypton crash lands, not in rural Kansas, but in Stalinist Russia. Can this Cold War-era Earth survive the coming of a Soviet Superman?
Don’t be fooled by the direct-to-video label. DC’s animated features are always entertaining, if made on lycra-tight budgets. While some releases have struggled with 72-minute format—seeming to squeeze too much plot into too little screen time, with Red Son, the team have hit pay-dirt. Mark Millar’s original plot could, in fact, have been designed as a film-script.
Apart from the tight plotting and drama-heavy storyline, there’s lots to love here. This a piece that’s all about shades of gray with Superman as neither the hero nor the villain of the piece. There are interesting takes on both Batman and Lex Luther. Lex especially is given the space to really flourish as a well-rounded character, rather than the usual bad-guy stereotype. Wonder Woman is sadly under-used–as always– but Red Son delivers in a way that will satisfy fans of the both DC’s animations and the original source material.
Red Son is another big win from DC’s Animated Universe series.