Superman: Red Son
by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson et al.
collecting the three prestige format issues
DC, $12.23, SC
This is an excellent story that happens to use DC's greatest characters. It's an Elsewords tale that tells about what might happen, if Superman landed in Soviet Russia as a child, instead of in Kansas. The "farm-boy" mentality remains, and being a communist doesn't turn Superman heartless as older depictions would have you believe. In the first issue, he even saves Metropolis from a plummeting Sputnik (engineered by American genius Lex Luthor to malfunction). Superman is an American idea, but Mark Millar manages to capture the idea of Superman and distill the America out of it.
The plotting is so tight, and the pace of the comic book moves so well. Not only is this the history of a Socialist Superman, it's a history of the clash of politics, and the endeavor of the human spirit. After building up so many allies, such as America's Green Lantern (from a ring found in Area 51), or Superman's conversion of the megalomaniac Brainac, there's a dramatic confrontation at the White House, and Mr. President Luthor deposes Comrade Superman. It's an amazing moment when Superman realizes that Lex planned for his death years ago -- and then accepts it. One more thing about the ending:
Red Son is an excellent story that revels in a twist on DC's greatest heroes. Highly recommended.
The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh
by Mark Waid and Minck Oosterveer
collecting the 4-issue miniseries
(free on comixology, when I got it. They charge you now)
That's what I love about The Unknown. There's this adamance that everything can be explained through reason and logic. Catherine represents this logical force that desires for knowledge: to know the unknown, and she's drawn to the weirdest cases. The newest, weirdest case comes from the quiet town of Mountain Oak, host to a string of bizarre murders in which the victims write out a message in their own blood, moments after death.
That's the second mystery in this volume. The first is why
Catherine Allingham is still alive, a year after her brain tumor would
have destroyed her. Both get solved by the end of volume, and I found it very clever the way they handled Catherine's brain tumor. She shuns medical science, because they don't guarantee that her mind will be 100% intact, so she embraces her six months to live, in the prime of her mental acumen. But, because she touched the door to the afterlife in the first volume, she's immortal! And the brain tumor will continue to grow and destroy her mind. That shit is tragic, guys. By the end of the volume, we solve the case of Mountain Oak, and there's a great hook that calls back to the first volume. Catherine Allingham continues to be a compelling character in comics, and I would love a third outing.
NEXT WEEK: The Flash of Two Worlds and Y: The Last Man Vol. 5: Ring of Truth!