Thursday, May 15, 2003

Fulfill the superhero five year plan!
Overfulfill the superhero five year plan!

DC Comics has just released Superman: Red Son, the first of an alternative universe trilogy in which Superman landed on a Stalin-era collective farm. The National Post reports that Superman, in this series, helps the Soviets to conquer the world.

The writer of the above story is correct that Superman writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster did have Superman battle evil businessmen and war profiteers early in his lifetime. However, this idea sits wrongly for me. It seems so Bizarro in so many ways.

Let me cite two for now:

1. All the arts were heavily censored in the Stalinist era. Their Supermen were the Stakhanovite shock workers with their faked production totals. Art was almost always supposed to be subservient to politics, so a character like Superman would probably never have surfaced.

2. I doubt that two artists of Jewish heritage (Siegel and Shuster) would appreciate the idea that their creation could ever be said, even theoretically, to be Stalinist, given that Stalin himself was so anti-Semitic.

The idea of the comic is interesting but I think it would be fair to say that Superman would be, by definition, have to be anti-Stalinist.