Saturday, February 23, 2013

On the Coffee Table: Kingdom Come

Title: Kingdom Come
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Alex Ross
Image via What's Up, MOCK?

I have to admit that my interest in the DC Universe was on the ropes before I picked up this collection, first published as a four-issue mini-series in 1996.  The New 52 relaunch back in 2010 only held my interest for a few months.  I enjoyed Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, but wasn't impressed enough to explore the Caped Crusader's story beyond.  But the Justice League has always been my strongest hook into this particular world so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that they've drawn me in once again.

The first thing one notices about Kingdom Come is the artwork.  The characters are painted in gouache with a vivid, ancient Greek idealism by Ross.  At the end of the book, Ross credits the human models who donated their time for the project.  Sharp lines and vivid colors dominate throughout.  If anything, images are too busy - a complaint I often find myself making with DC - but there's no denying the stunning quality of the work.

The story is wonderful.  Superman and Wonder Woman, both older now and having confronted the cruelties of life (even for immortals), come out of self-seclusion to restore order to the world.  Batman has his own ideas for the best course of action, as do Lex Luthor and the UN Secretary General.  As in the real world, the line between benevolence and tyranny is very thin.

As frequently happens with my comic explorations, I am now eager to go back to the beginning with these characters.  DC is releasing Justice League Chronicles, Vol. 1 in May.  Meanwhile, I can explore the stories of the individual characters, too.


  1. 35 years ago I bought DC comic books because they made my kids WANT to read. What they read was thematized by high morality, humanism, imaginative scientific speculation, triumph of good over evil and respect for all living things. I hope DC has continued that valuable and instructive tradition. In fact, you've impelled me to dig into back issues I kept for myself. Thanks!

    1. The comics of the '90s and beyond are a lot darker in theme than those of the '70s. However, you might find this particular series interesting because it explores the broader moral implications of a world with superheroes.

  2. This was one of the very few comics that I bought in the 90s. (I don't count continued reading of stuff by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, since those always held onto a kind of 80s sensibility...) As a "future history" of the DC universe, it wasn't as dystopian as Miller's Dark Knight, and it wasn't as silly as many of the "imaginary stories" of the 60s and 70s. A good read, indeed!

    1. For me, Alan Moore is simply the best. Watchmen blew me away. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is fun, too. Have you tried Top Ten? Zander Cannon, a college friend of mine, is the layout artist for that series.

      Gaiman is hit or miss for me. Sandman is certainly top quality but goes too far on the gross scale for my tastes. My favorite of his work is the film Coraline. I have yet to read the book but my daughter really enjoyed it.