I borrowed Superman: Red Son from the library the other day.
I was well and truly entertained, as the book went beyond its gimmicky premise -- baby Kal-El's rocket lands in Communist Russia in the 1930s instead of the American Heartland -- to give not just an alternate DC Universe history but an alternate world history, too. Better yet, some of the best gems were doled out in almost offhand ways. (Richard Nixon wins the 1960 presidential election and is assassinated in Dallas? John F. Kennedy later become the President, married to Marilyn Monroe? Lovely.)
I read it over and over again, and I still don't think I picked up on everything; it wasn't until the third time around that I realized "Pyotr Roslov" was our Pete Ross. I couldn't help but spot the very subtle nods to the covers of Action Comics #1, Superman #1 and Detective Comics #27.
About the only thing that threw me as being far too comic-booky was when Lex Luthor was elected President, and within months magically transforms the national economy. As is painfully true here on Earth-Prime, it just ain't that easy.
Still, I loved this take on the Superman/Luthor rivalry. And that twist ending on the last page, when we learn just where baby Kal-El's rocket came from ... and where it was sent -- priceless.
I just finished The Long Haul, an original graphic novel from Oni Press. Set in 1871, the story focuses on one Cody Plummer, a bank robber by trade who has spent five years as a guest of the state in Utah. Now he's in Chicago, rubbing elbows with the elite -- although the Pinkerton agent who sent him away keeps showing up just to warn people away from him. One such friend, a financier, is unperturbed: "Plummer, I deal in loans and investments. I'd take a bank robber over a banker any day. Now let me buy you a drink before the show starts, and that be the end of it."
This friend gives Plummer a tip: A train carrying $1.9 million in government bonds is soon to head from Chicago to San Francisco. The money is in an unbreachable rail car, in an impregnable safe, and the Pinkerton man is the head of the security detail, his last duty before he retires. So of course Plummer sets out to rob it. He finds a backer and puts together a crew -- most of whom think he died because they haven't seen him in seven years -- and works out a scam that's very much like a cowboy version of Ocean's Eleven.
It's a fun read, with sharp dialogue by Antony Johnston and gorgeous art by Eduardo Barretto, who excels at the period detail, and, unlike many artists, really knows how to draw for black and white. It was much like reading a movie, right down to the "where are they now" bits at the end telling us of each cast member's fate.
I remember that one, Clark. A great read, and a book that is right up my alley.
Firestorm #4-6 (from 1982). I'm having a lot of fun reading these.
Not very Christmas-y I guess, but I started Locke & Key: Crown Of Shadows. The lore of the keys keeps growing, and I'm enjoying getting to know the characters better. I'm struck by the boldness of portraying the mother as a depressive self-medicating with alcohol. A realistic choice, and not an attractive one.
Also started the second Vertigo Jonah Hex miniseries: Riders of the Worm and Such. Once again, a gritty Western with some really inventive elements. In this case, huge carnivorous underground worms, and the Wilde West Ranch and Music and Culture Emporium. I'm just glad I can't actually hear the awful songs those cowboys are singing.
I've been reading an old standard-size paperback collection of Flash Gordon daily strips, The Amazing Adventures of Flash Gordon vol. 3. This contains B&W reprints of Dan Barry Sunday stories from 1971. The stories are pretty tepid, but the art is really very good. There's a particularly well-drawn sequence where Flash and Dale are stuck on a dying planet.