Another double feature today, because I feel like it. Once again, I skirt round the edges of controversy…
The Ultimates 1
Superman: Red Son
Join in if you know the words, everyone: I do like these books, I do like Millar’s work and they were some of the first when I really started to get into comics, and the artwork for both is amazing (seriously, how does Millar manage to get such amazing artists?) buuuuuuut… “All-Time Greatest”. Those words seem to haunt me every time I make one of these posts.
But damn it all, if you’re going to talk big, then you should bloody well make sure you can back up your claims. I suspect that these comics were included because the people at Uncanny Comics who made this list included it more out of nostalgia then basing them on their actual merits, which are there… just not in sufficient supply.
What then, is?
Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future: Voyage to Venus Part 1
Yes, of course I’m serious.
Dan Dare is the story of the eponymous hero in the far future of 1999 who helps liberate the Treens from their hated ruler, the megalomaniacal Mekon. It might seem a little hokey at times, but there’s a solid foundation of tight plotting and – at times – downright superb artwork that can still make you believe, just for a moment, that this could’ve been our world.
If you want political allegory in your comics, you’ll find enough here to last you until tea-time; the panels where the Treens realise that appeasement to a dictator doesn’t actually work are brought into sharp relief when you realise that this comic was only published a few years after the end of World War Two.
If you can accept the sillier aspects, and stick with it, this can be a jolly good ride.
Superman: Secret Identity
Now, I know everyone says that Red Son is the Superman Elseworlds that you have to read, but what they don’t realise is that Secret Identity is actually that thing I just said. Clark Kent, born in Kansas, realises in his mid-teens that he can fly, has super-strength, and is invulnerable… which is just as well, because he was getting sick of all those “Superman” jokes.
When I say that this is set in the real world, it really is. With Red Son, you’re just looking for which DC character is going to show up next. In Secret Identity, you just want to learn more about Clark Kent and his journey to find himself. There are people in his life, and that’s it: people. That’s what makes this one of the greatest comics ever.