The Marvel/DC Co-Fan Club 665 members · 516 stories
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Recently I purchased a copy of Superman: Red Son, and as much as I've come to detest the "evil/wayward Superman" archetype, I actually thought this story's take on it works quite well, especially in contrast to others such as Injustice!Superman or more horrific takes like Homelander or Brightburn. Red Son's Superman is...kind of a paradox, I think. On the one hand he's kind of sympathetic, but on the other I think he's actually scarier than your usual laser-spammer.

See, for all of his dictatorial attributes, he's still genuinely trying to make the world a better place. It's not a jaded cynicism, nor is it self-centered depravity. At the end of the day, he really is just trying to help...the problem is he's doing it in the wrong way.

Now for the flip side. Red Son!Superman actually stands out from other wayward Supermen in that he actually won't kill you. No, instead he essentially lobotomizes dissidents, turning them into complacent, happy "Superman Robots". And that's...honestly terrifying. At least when Omni-Man splatters someone to pieces or Homelander fries a guy's head off, the poor schmuck's dead after that.

I think all that to say is the reason why I think Red Son's Superman fascinates me, and why I think he works where other corrupt Supermen don't, is that he's not an antithesis to what Superman stands for; he's a perversion of it. He wants the same thing–a better world–but it's twisted by how he does it.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
—C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

Perfect quote for this scenario. And well summarized too.

I know we talked about this before, but still I want to say... nicely phrased.

This is one of the things I think that anti-superhero writers (cough-cough *Garth Ennis* cough-cough) don't get, or even don't WANT to get, about the characters they're trying to "deconstruct". That if people like Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman went rogue, they just wouldn't go on a murder spree. They'd do things differently. For my value the best quote-unquote "Superman gone bad" story might be A Better World from the DCAU, because that one grew out of a natural worst-case scenario (Lex Luthor becoming president and killing superheroes, with the League of that world deciding that "no kill" rule had outstayed its welcome) and, also, grew out of the heroes' efforts to try and make the world better. I can buy that far more than just "Superman would be a danger to us because he has powers beyond us and so he can never be like or understand humans."

Homelander is only a Superman-type character in that he has similar powers and the "American" theme to him. Otherwise there's nothing similar to the two - Homelander is just a hedonistic sociopathic rapist who rarely, if ever, thinks beyond the next immediate action or atrocity. The only comparison between the two is entirely superficial.

It's honestly one of my favorite Superman stories as even with this perversion, it still gets Superman's character very well.

It is extremely scary to be on the receiving end of someone who is hurting you and really believes he/she is helping you.

Yeah, I wasn't sure if I'd like it, what with my being thoroughly done with wayward Supermen, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

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