Comic Review – “Kingdom Come”

Armageddon is coming. Which side is the Justice League on?

General Information

Title: Kingdom Come

Author: Mark Waid

Illustrator: Alex Ross

Original Publication Date: Expanded 1997 reprint of material first
published in 1996.

ISBN: 1-56389-330-4

Cover Price: $14.95 US, $24.95 Can

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Premise

About a generation into the future, the current heroes of the DC
Universe have been deposed for a more brutal variety. The
heroes of
old decide this is unacceptable, and the regular humans decide
they
tire of the super-human impact over their daily lives.

High Point

“You sound as if you have a plan.”

Low Point

What happened to the pair that stopped the first two missiles? In
any
other issue, they’d have reached the third in time, too.

The Scores

There have been a few comics that blur the line between heroes
and
villains, but this one does it in a more chilling fashion. This isn’t
The Watchmen, it’s a story where all heroes start to
become
distortions of what they should be. It’s an interesting setup, but
the ending feels a bit like just another Secret Wars, Inifinity
Gauntlet, etc. with all of the world’s heroes fighting each other
every step of the way. I give the originality 4 out of
6,
for a good concept with typical execution.

The artwork is fully painted by Alex Ross. He can
make these
characters look real without looking any less majestic. Thier
uniforms look like cloth rather than body paint, and the details
packed into their faces make them look human, aged, and worn,
as the
heroes would be. The man’s an amazing artist. I really wish his
work
could be done more quickly, allowing him to do interiors more
often.
I give the artwork 6 out of 6.

The story is well formed, even if it can get a bit
formulaic. I give it 4 out of 6.



The characterization is excellent. The expressions
on their
faces matches thier attitudes perfectly. They respond to their
circumstances in entirely believable ways. (Batman’s dealings
with
the MLF spring to mind.) These are completely plausible and
understandable actions for the characters involved. I give it 5
out
of 6.

The emotional response this produced was not bad.
I enjoyed
it, and I certainly wanted to read it in one sitting, but the periodic
confusion I felt from the wealth of characters one needs
familiarity
with was irritating. There wasn’t much room for it in the story, but
the TPB version certainly could have included a quick primer to
the
players in its bonus material. (Naming the characters on the
cover
plates wasn’t quite enough.) I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow was excellent. Alex Ross can capture
motion in
paintings that others
seem to struggle with. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a good read, and one I’d recommend,
but it
doesn’t change the world. I prefer Mark Waid’s material when
he’s having fun with
the
stories. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Kingdom Come receives 32 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

Someone told me that this was a good TPB to read to become
familiar
with the DC Universe. That person was wrong. While it’s true
that
only a passing familiarity with Superman, Wonder Woman,
Batman, Lex
Luthor, the Spectre and Captain Marvel is needed to understand
the
story, those of us with question about Green Lantern, the Flash,
Green
Arrow, and other characters will not find those answers here. It’s
loaded with cameos and new characters, but very little
explanation for
any of them. While it’s probably a tremendously rewarding read
to
those who know these characters, the rest of us are missing out
on a
lot. (I think DC would benefit greatly from the introduction of a
line like Marvel’s Essentials. The Archives are just too
expensive
for the casual fan to consider, as far as I’m concerned. I’m
surprised that some of the devoted fans can still afford them.)

4 replies on “Comic Review – “Kingdom Come””

  1. ultraexactzz says:

    Re: the finale (SPOILERS )
    My favorite aspect of this story was the characterization. The characters seemed realistic, particularly when you consider their circumstances in the future. I was amazed at how lifelike the art was, as well – and how much Wonder Woman’s first reveal made her look like Lynda Carter.

    BTW, this is my first post here. Love the site!

    HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

    Regarding the bombs dropping, I believe (and I’ll have to look it up to be sure) that the planes attempting to deploy the bombs were stopped, not the bombs themselves. If they’re anything like modern nuclear arms, the weapon itself is armed with a security code of some sort when the bomb is dropped, missle launched, etc. If the plane is destroyed, there’s no way to input that code and no way to detonate the weapon. The “anti-super hero” shielding might have protected the bomb itself, but not the plane deploying it.

    That’s how I read it, at least.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Kingdom Come

      This is certainly a fascinating handling of superheroes. I have a couple of questions:

      1. What is Catwoman (Selina Kyle) doing? What could she contribute to the MLF? Is she the resident Batman expert? (if so, she fails badly) Associating with Luthor and his aims seems out of character.
      2. The story pushes the concept of superheroes to see where that leads, but where does it lead? The reasons for playing with “super-hero” isn’t so clear here as, say, in Watchmen. A consideration of ethics? The implications of people becoming superhuman? This isn’t a criticism, but a question for discussion, if anyone’s interested in this thread.

      • ultraexactzz says:

        Re: Kingdom Come

        2. The story pushes the concept of superheroes to see where that leads, but where does it lead? The reasons for playing with “super-hero” isn’t so clear here as, say, in Watchmen. A consideration of ethics? The implications of people becoming superhuman? This isn’t a criticism, but a question for discussion, if anyone’s interested in this thread.

        I don’t have my copy in front of me, but I believe the foreward addressed this. The story was intended to be about the superheros of today who grew up and found out that their children were schmucks.

        It also felt a little like the X-men, in that there is a class of people out there with super powers causing mischief and frightening the “ordinary” people, changing everything. The difference here is that this class of superhumans started out helping people – but their kids didn’t carry the torch.

        What you end up with is aging superheroes forced to accept the consequences of their powers instead of turning their backs to the problem (i.e. Superman & GL in seclusion, Flash and Hawkman and others distancing themselves).

        I’d love to get into it further, though it seems that this thread was largely passed over… It’s an excellent book.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: Kingdom Come
        To your first question, I’m unsure as to why Ms. Kyle is there except perhaps as a way to allow Riddler to name off the other people at the table so those of us unfamiliar with everyone could pick up on who they were.

        As to the second question, Kingdom Come explores the apathy of the new super beings towards the ideals of the old super beings. Why should someone who can fly through the air or perform feats of super strength be constrained by normal laws? Super beings raised by Super beings have no concept of ‘normal’ in KC, and thus aren’t constrained by it and they don’t strive to uphold it. To put it in a Hobbsian viewpoint, the social contract no longer has any hold on them as they can do better outside of it. Superman and company attempt to enforce it, but they lose what they stand for by doing it – pyrrhic victories all around.

        The problem with delving into the concept of KC is that it is so full of different things that it manages to hold together well – superhuman ethics, Armageddon, and sacrifice for ideals. English and Philosophy students needing to write a paper could probably have a blast with it.

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