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Headscratchers: Superman: Red Son
  • How does everyone live so ridiculously long at the end? I understand later generations living longer, but Luthor himself lived for over 2000 years.
    • I chalk it up to Luthor creating a Super Serum that grants near immortality, which he kept for himself and Lois.
      • Given that liberal estimates of medical technology's progress think we may achieve actual immortality(at least from ageing et all) within a couple generations, Luthopia or not, this troper finds the fact that he didn't just straight-up live until the end to be more bothersome, unless of course he calculated long ago that this would somehow go against his plans for the world and was satisfied enough with what he'd lived through already.
      • This one could be a case of Who Wants to Live Forever? meets No Immortal Inertia; near-immortality aside, he'd clearly aged quite a lot in those 2000 years and was hooked up to a lot of life support machines as well. No doubt he could only slow down the aging process and not stop it entirely, so he probably decided that enough was enough, and that literally living forever wouldn't be worth the pain — quality of life versus quantity and that.

  • What was up with Batman? Awesomeness of his hat aside, this Batman drank, bombed museums with people in them yet refused to kill Superman, and acted very ASBAR-ish. Sure, it's a different Batman, but he's more like one of his regular villains than our normal "criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot" Batman.
    • Simple: this Batman isn't Bruce Wayne.
      • And, despite acting a lot like him, he's not "Crazy Steve", either.
    • You may chalk this one up to Mark Millar's writing. As suggested here, he tends to boil characters down to their "essences", but doesn't entirely think things through. Given all the work that's been done with Batman's motivations over the years, you'd think that Soviet!Batman would be a little more ambivalent over Superman's socialist utopia.
    • Soviet!Batman is nothing like "criminals are a superstitiously and cowardly lot" Batman because, for one thing, his motivations actually have nothing to do with fighting crime. Regular bats' parents were killed by a criminal, whereas Soviet!Bats' parents were killed by a law official. While Superman ended up reasonably the same (because let's face it, his basic ideals of truth and justice could mean almost anything and are completely non-contextual), Soviet!Bats ended up as an inversion of his regular motivations with the same personality, which would concievably result in someone very much like his regular villains.
    • Given Soviet!Bats' crushing hatred of authority figures as opposed to criminals, and the fact that instead of having a faceless and constantly changing group to 'correct', Soviet!Bats has one, easily identifiable figure that fuels his entire campaign, it makes sense that he wouldn't want to kill Superman, because his anti-superman crusade is the only thing that has sustained him all these years. Logically his position up to that point would demand that he kill superman but he probably found himself unable to because, even if he wasn't aware of it, he'd have no reason to keep living without someone to hate.
      • In regards to the 'bombing museums with people in them' thing, while regular Bats hates killing, and Soviet!Bats presumably did as well earlier in his career, operation outside the law in a totalitarian police state whose leader can see through walls and hear everything presumably requires harsher methods of dealing with anyone who finds out that something illegal is going on. If there's a reason he seems like a different character, it's because he IS.
      • To be fair, he does give them a warning to clear out the building before the bomb goes off. Not exactly philanthropy, still, but it's not nothing.
    • On a lesser note, fact that Soviet!Batman drinks alcohol could easily be attributed to the fact that Russia has a far more pervasive drinking culture than the US.
    • I always figured he may have used the alcohol as a pain killer. the poor guy probably got knocked around a bit, and i doubt he has access to proper medicine. i think the "real" Batman has trained in meditation to control his pain, but i doubt this batman ever had the time or the resources to do so.
    • Soviet!Batman also differs from Regular!Batman in one crucial sense; he's not the child of wealth. Where Regular!Batman seems to have access to a near-unlimited operating budget, Soviet!Batman wasn't part of the ruling elite and thus grew up with the resources available to the orphaned son of the children of what appear to have been a fairly average, if not below-average, income couple in the Soviet Union — i.e. not a lot. Thus, Soviet!Batman came to Batmanhood in a much harsher set of circumstances, which in turn influenced his outlook and operating procedure. He's rougher around the edges because he can't afford the polish that the Regular!Batman gets.

  • The museum scene bugs me. There is absolutely no reason to make people move on after sixty seconds at each exhibit. Superman should know that. As a result, the whole thing comes across as a way to make Superman's empire look bad.
    • One Believe It Or Not segment had Jack Palance explain the "wondrous Egress" at a freakshow. It was the door out. The show was so good, the owners couldn't shuffle the attendees out fast enough to keep new ones (who bought tickets) coming in. The Egress trick was a polite way of getting people to leave without forcing them out. I have little trouble seeing "man of the people" red son supes as having no problem with limiting the viewing time of exhibits so everyone could enjoy a look. If you want more time, go get in line again. The "rigorous psych exams" threatened would, of course, be for "your own good" since anyone who doesn't understand how moving on in 60 seconds to let others enjoy the exhibits is good must not be right in the head.
      • That helps. Thank you.
    • To take a real-life example that's also rather relevant, officially you're not allowed to linger around Lenin's embalmed corpse (in Russia) or Mao's (in China) because they get a lot of people wanting to see them on a daily basis (unofficially, it's argued that it's actually because the embalming wasn't done very well and they don't want to give people time to notice). It's probably something similar. Add to that, at that point Superman still seems quite popular and beloved, so lots of people would genuinely want to tour around his museum and linger at all the cool stuff, so it's just making sure that everyone gets a turn.

  • How did Superman ending up in Soviet make Stalin care about his son? Also surprising that Superman is so pro-Soviet considering that he comes from a collective farm in Ukraine. Shouldn't he have been there for holodomor then?
    • That wasn't a universal belief.
    • IIRC, it's said Superman was whisked away and placed under the personal tutelage of Stalin as soon as he was discovered. He may not have actually been present for the Holodomor.
    • The Holodomor was in 1932-3, Superman landed in Ukraine in 1938.

  • How did Wonder Woman break the unbreakable lasso of truth.
    • The "unbreakable" lasso of truth gets broken all the time whenever a writer wants to show that someone or something is really super-duper strong. It's The Worf Effect applied to superhero equipment.

  • Why does Wonder Woman hate Superman after the incident with Batman and the red sun lamps? I mean, her dialogue after that and Superman's narration later seem to indicate that she regrets helping him and blames him for it. Okay, people are stupid, people do that, but in this case it's completely out of character. Or am I missing something?
    • He basically forced her to break her lasso of truth, which...damaged her somehow. It's unclear exactly what happened but apparently breaking the lasso either aged her several decades or turned off her immortality. Or something.
    • She loved Superman and he was too dense to see that - this is explicitly mentioned in the narration by Supes himself. Hell hath no fury and all that, so when Wonder Woman broke the lasso of truth and damage herself, she realized that Supes didn't love her and probably blamed him for getting hurt. To be fair to WW, it is pretty much Supes fault that she did get hurt. If the person I had a crush on didn't return the feelings and get me hurt - maybe even being responsible for a future death - I'd be pretty pissed as well.
    • The incident made Wonder Woman realise that Soviet!Batman was right in the end: Superman does care more about his authoritarian grip on the Soviet Union, than her. This is made clear when Wonder Woman something happened her after she snapped the lasso, and all Superman could think about his about Batman's revelation that Pyotr betrayed him.
    • Consider this: What if Wonder Woman had been trying to convince herself that Superman loved her, and being bound with the lasso made her see the truth that no, he really didn't?

  • How come the Green Lantern Corps were unable to kill Superman?
    • As it says in the comic, their rings are controlled by thought, but Superman is able to move faster than the speed of thought.
    • Also, the "Corps" had only one proper lantern in it sharing his power with a bunch of lesser lanterns who, while disciplined, didn't quite possess the extraordinary mental discipline required to wield a ring. One of these lesser lanterns even says he's having trouble keeping other thoughts out of his head while maintaining his part of the construct.

  • How was the Russian government able to control superman?
    • They weren't controlling him. At first he was raised by Stalin and he loved and respected him, and if you notice if Stalin tried to get Superman to do something he didn't want to (Like sit and enjoy the parade) Superman would basically tell him to fuck off and go do what he wants. In later chapters Superman WAS the government.

  • On the subject of Sovet!Batman, how did he even come to exist? From what little we see of his past, he definitely doesn't come from a rich family. He wouldn't have had the resources needed to get the equipment and training that Bruce Wayne recieved, so how did he manage to get as skilled as his US counterpart?
    • He is not as skilled as his US counterpart. You can see the differences on his modus operatis, his ugly Batcave and his ways of attacking. Plus, US!Batman defeated Superman almost every single time they had to fought. Soviet!Bats killed himself in the first time because he had failed. Soviet!Bats is less prepared, less trained and is not as smart as US!Bats, which led to his doom.
    • Whilst the previous comment is correct in that Soviet Batman is not as well trained as US Batman, it should be pointed out that Batman has never defeated Superman in official DC Canon. He has come close to defeating him in various Elseworlds stories, but even then, Superman was pretty much on top the entire fight.

  • Why did Luthor never think to use the red-sun lamps ever again? They worked perfectly when Batman tried them, so why didn't he just hand one to Hal Jordan or Diana and say "Hey, this thing can remove his powers. You might wanna' try it".
    • Luthor didn't know. He had no contact with Soviet!Batman at all. The only reason Batman knew was because he made a bit of a logical leap, one Luthor would probably be unlikely to do since he's so, you know, full of himself.
    • On that topic, how the hell did Soviet!Bats discovered about the red sun radiation? He said that, because Superman was "The Last Son Of A Dying Planet", it made sense, but... there were literally hundreds of other things that could have been making the planet die. And how did he manage to recreate perfectly the radiation of a red dying sun with lamps? Before the 2000s? Working under the Earth possibly alone?
    • He's the goddamn Batman, that's how. (Alternatively, because the plot says so.)
    • I was under the impression that /lex Luther somehow managed to give the red sun lamp tech to the Batman.
    • Lex DID give the tech to Batman. He was using Batman as another pawn to kill of Superman, and so was giving him the Red Sun tech to give him the advantage. But after it didn't work, Luthor simply moved on. He's Lex Luthor, he's never reused a trick in the comics before, why would you think he'd try it this time?
    • Also, very importantly, Superman apparently didn't know the radiation of a red sun was a weakness of his, so he wasn't on guard against the lamps. That was only going to be the case this one time, and afterward he'd know to be on the lookout for red sun lamps.

  • Why did the Power Ring not seek out a new host as soon as the last Green Lantern (presumably Abin Sur) died? In any other media the ring leaves its host and finds a different one upon death, but this one stuck around and let itself be handled by Lex who decidedly not worthy of it. And for that matter why did the guardians not send for the newest recruit or realize their ring was being duplicated and try to stop it? There was an entire sector without protection, why did no one in the G Ls notice? Or how about how one individual lantern powered the whole squadron of lanterns when it was designed for one?
    • Two possibilities: First, the GL rings don't work the same in the Red Son universe. We see that in this world, Krypton is actually future Earth, which shows that this universe is fundamentally different than the main DC universe. It is plausible that the ring's mechanisms are just different for this world. Alternately, there's a Fridge Horror solution: Abin Sur might not actually be dead. We see his body in a vat, but it's possible he's in a coma, and that the Earth scientists at Roswell don't understand enough about his physiology to determine that he's just unconscious as opposed to dead. But both are just Wild Mass Guessing, of course.

  • Okay, Lex's formula to balance the budget. How does that work, exactly? The problem with balancing the budget isn't that the math is too hard, it's that people want government services but don't want to pay taxes.
    • It should be more like a full economic plan, based on a formula; to cut expenses and start turning profits. Of course, it would only work if executed exactly as it was developed; my guess is that Luthor has, in this universe, enough intelligence to identify the thousands of variables of a free market and reduce them to only a couple dozen more manageable KNOWN variables. His formula should only work for a very narrow windows of time, perhaps six or seven months, enough to be noticeable and getting him more work while at the same time getting the government off his back so he can focus on Superman. A lot of a country's budget goes down on plans that don't work as they should; no government ever has too little money, they just spend on unnecessary things, or on things that aren't profitable and then you have low recaudation. Lex's formula could very well include this information. At the very basic level, balancing a budget just means that your expenses are the same as your income. For example, for the USA a lot of money could be saved by cutting down on military expenses and welfare; it's just not politically beneficial to do so.
    • Read it again: Luthor scribbled the formula, and things got worse for the USA, and far worse before they got better. Clearly, that whole "eliminate the deficit" thing didn't do a damn thing, since America experienced food shortages, riots, civil wars, leading to sixteen of the states seceding under at least three administrations. For all we know, it may very well be possible that the reason hey didn't work may be partially due to Luthor didn't account for the expenditure the super-arms race (largely consisting of his own anti-Superman contingency plans) would cost. FYI, in real-life the real reason why the military spending is high because the US has been on an alertness for war since the Cold War's beginning, which makes sense given the amount of conflicts it's been involved in since then. In Superman: Red Son, they still had proxy wars between the two superpowers. As for welfare, removing spending on it could lead thousands of unskilled workers looking for low-wage jobs, which wouldn't be enough to cover the living expenses of a single person, much less a family, putting aside the unemployed. Those are reasons why "it's not politically beneficial to do" either. There was a "President Friedman" in that story, whose to say his administration didn't see the drastic cuts in welfare, or its outright removal?
      • Knowing Luthor, its possible that he did all of that on purpose, rather than making any mistakes. Luthor, after all, is an elitist asshole- if "food shortages, riots, civil wars and secession" were the price of a long-term economic utopia, he'd probably pay it without blinking, and / or it vilifies three administrations enough that America ends up voting for its "saviour" Lex Luthor, who of course knows exactly what they need to do to save the economy- either the benefits of his formula would not be seen until he took office (assuming he calculated that far ahead, which it is implied he did), or his formula was designed from the outset to cause havoc and Luthor planned to scrap it as soon as he took power.

  • Do any of the political ideas in the comic even make sense? Superman is a communist because he keeps track of all the economy, but Luthorís economic plan once he became president gives the government control over every dollarÖ when the government has control over all the economy, thatís called communism. So how is the story a capitalism Vs. communist thing? In the matters of ďfreedomĒ it doesnít makes any sense neither. Supermanís word is perfect and everybody is so happy that almost nobody complains, not even in private. How is that different from a democracy were Superman just gets elected as absolute leader of the world every time? In all the history of mankind nobody has fought for democracy because they love the system and the ruler but hate no being able to vote for it. The only problem with Supermanís government seems to be Supermanís robots, but they are not being brainwashed for thinking different but for trying to overthrow the government. Even in a no-dictatorial state thatís a crime. I think that the metaphor just doesn't make any sense when you throw a superbeing that makes a communist state work like a clock.
    • It's not supposed to be a capitalism vs communist in that sense. The idea of the story is that because Superman grew up in an communist environment, he decided to take control on the country so he could look after it better, something he is very unlikely to do in a democracy run country. Plus it is different from a democracy standpoint since it doesn't matter how popular you are as a leader, every few years or so requires an election and you might be removed from office. The main reason why communism is terrible is that you are stuck with the same leader, regardless if they are good or bad, and since Superman is immortal, he is going to be in office for a while. Also, as you said, Superman is keeping watch on his citizens. They state numerous times in the comic that it is not wise to complain when your leader can hear the entire planet and when Superman "dies", the whole planet cheers, so he obviously wasn't universality loved. They did have issues with him, they were just too afraid to complain about it. As for Lex Luthor having control over every dollar, well he is still Lex Luthor, one of the biggest hypocrites on the planet.
  • Why does the story portray Stalin's succession as being just between Superman and Stalin's whiny kid? There should be several competent, experienced and in all likelihood ambitious leaders at the top of the Soviet Union when Stalin dies, but none of those are even mentioned.
    • The real life Stalin actually had a real bad habit about killing and disappearing people who'd displeased him or were threats to him politically. This would include competent, experienced, and ambitious leaders.
    • And just as in ever other power struggle, there may well have been multiple contenders. It's just that two of them (Stalin's son who'd been groomed for years as a successor, and the invincible immortal hero of the people) stood out above all the others.
  • As I recall, there was a significant theme through the book of Not So Different between Superman and Luthor. The only guy who could stop the super-powered alien dictator with absolute power over a semi-utopian society was an unpowered human dictator (if not in name) with absolute power over a semi-utopian society.

Lex Luthor: Man of SteelHeadscratchers/Comic BooksTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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