“Angels. No, not angels. Gods themselves. Superman had returned… in doing so, drawing from seclusion the titans of yesteryear… their emerald flashes and scarlet strobes lighting the darkness of the day.”
“Kingdom Come” (1996) is one of those graphic novels that transcends the medium itself. This is a dark, apocalyptic epic about what could happen if the DC heroes really lived among us. Ultimately these larger than life battles are metaphors for the clashing philosophical ideologies that we face in our day to day lives. Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s masterpiece is required reading for any comic fan.
Told from the perspective of a normal man, Norman McCay, a pastor struggling with his faith, this is a tale of aging heroes dealing with the consequences of their existence. The story takes place in a far off future where the old guard has retired and a new generation of edgier super powered vigilantes have taken over. Following the death of ‘The Sandman’, Norman is visited by the spirit of vengeance, The Spectre, who shows him events that set the apocalypse in motion…
Superman left the world behind years ago when Lois was murdered by The Joker, and many of his allies followed suit. Aquaman, the King of Atlantis, has shunned the surface world, Green Lantern watches silently from his orbital fortress, and The Flash is now an invisible guardian whose turned his city into a utopia by force.
After the American mid-west is decimated by a radioactive catastrophe brought on by the carelessness of Magog and his legion of meta-humans, Wonder Woman convinces Kal-El to come out of isolation and help set things right. Together they begin to reform the Justice League in their mission to save the world, but Bruce Wayne, the former Batman of Gotham City, doesn’t trust their methods.
It goes without saying, Alex Ross’s art is beyond superb. Ross really does these larger than life heroes justice, with some of the most iconic images in comics history. Alex Ross is known for his hyper-realism and his ability to turn comic book imagery into classical paintings. You have to see it to believe it, this isn’t your grandpappy’s tri-colored comics from back in the day, each and every panel is a true work of art.
Mark Waid’s prose brings an added layer of gravitas, perfectly complementing Ross’s masterwork. If that’s not enough, this book is chock-full of character cameos and DC references. One of my favorite moments featured a Silver Age themed restaurant called Planet Krypton, complete with waiters in cosplay and super-themed entrees that had me laughing out loud.
“Kingdom Come” is without a doubt, one of the best comic books I’ve ever read and one of the best examples of comics as a form of modern mythology.
Curious about an older comic or graphic novel? Feel free to send me a request for a Retro Review! – Erik