What amazes me most about this book is how old it is. Originally published in 1996, Kingdom Come stands as one of the best stories not only in comics, but any medium. The art and story were so expertly executed that it’s hard to date the book by reading it. Many stories have a loose release date etched into them whether it be by style or design. Kingdom Come is truly timeless.
Until the past year or two, Mark Waid was the most underrated writer in comics. The man truly has an understanding of characters, whether it be for DC or Marvel. He knows what makes them tick. Alex Ross by now is legend. His painterly style is hyper realistic, making the characters almost spring to life off the page. I have yet to see anyone come close to aping his style. The two teamed together to tell this four part tale that reads seamlessly in trades.
The Spectre taps a man named Norman McCay, a humble pastor, to witness and pass judgement over the coming apocalypse. Taking place far in DC’s future, the Justice League as long been disbanded, a new generation of heroes has taken over, and Superman hasn’t been seen in 10 years. Wonder Woman coaxes Superman out of hiding after Magog, using extreme measures, caused a nuclear explosion in Kansas, killing millions. Superman begins to reeducate the new heroes and villains alike, showing them the responsibility their powers bring.
I often find myself wondering why Superman or Batman doesn’t kill. It’s a strict code they live by that seems somewhat anachronistic. Other prominent, modern heroes like Wolverine kill, why doesn’t Superman? Or fix the world? Simple, that’s not the point of the character. Superman stands for something more. This is one of the best stories that shows what makes him Superman, why he doesn’t kill, why his human side is more important than his kryptonian. This shows what would happen if Superman actually tried to fix the world.
One of the most fun elements of the story was seeing the future of the DCU. What does the next generation of heroes look like? What of the previous one? There were some clever ideas for these new heroes that aren’t more than a footnote, showing how well thought out and crafted this tale was. The only possible downside to the book was the encyclopedic knowledge required. Thankfully, since many characters are new, there’s a handy labeled chart in the back. It was fun to read the chart if only to see what certain heroes children looked like. Still, even with this, certain scenes would be lost on newer readers, like Superman visiting Apokolips, or seeing celestial beings like Ganthet and the Phantom Strange discuss the happenings on Earth.
I remember the first time I read this story. I was still relatively new to comics, though I had a good idea of things from years of cartoons. I missed a few character mentions, and was surprised by the Captain Marvel reveal. This story blew me away. Rereading it now, it’s still just as enjoyable, and timeless. Any DC or comic fan should make a point to read this book.
When did you first read Kingdom Come? What was your favorite future hero design? Comment below!
Bruce Wayne in a Batman t-shirt.