Comic: "Kingdom Come"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Mark Waid
Artist: Alex Ross

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 5/20/2008

Plot: In an alternate DC timeline set some years in the future, most of the heroes we know have long since retired, and a new generation of amoral vigilantes has taken their place. After a disaster caused by metahumans wipes out most of Kansas, an aging Superman puts the old band back together and tries to make the new guys see the error of their ways.

Review: Normally I don't talk about the art first in my reviews, but let's face it, when you have a book painted by Alex Ross, it doesn't matter how good the writing is--the art is the star of the show, and this is certainly no exception. Ross paints beautifully realistic figures in epic, cinematic compositions, that make you feel more like you're watching a movie than reading a comic. His art is the highest form of comic book eye candy, and any book he's worked on is worth a look simply because of the visuals if nothing else.

With that out of the way, I can now focus on the story. Mark Waid does a good job of painting a bleak future in a world where super "heroes" have run amok, creating more harm than good with their arrogant attempts to "help" society. There are plenty of new characters here among the new generation of super-powered vigilantes, but disappointingly, very few of them are developed very deeply. This is because the real centerpiece of the book is the heroes we know and love, albeit in the form of darker, futuristic versions of themselves.

As with any "Elseworlds" tale, we get to see how these very familiar characters could have turned out very different if you change a setting here or a circumstance there. What is both simultaneously compelling and frustrating about this story is that it doesn't flatly explain everything to the reader--you have to fill in many of the blanks on your own, which is always welcome as far as I'm concerned, but in some cases I almost felt like there were some depths of story potential left untapped, and they could have given us more character development had they shown us more scenes of the events that took the world from the familiar one we knew to the bleakly cynical future in which the characters now reside.

My biggest complaint about Kingdom Come is simply that it wasn't long enough to leave me fully satisfied. I liked what was there enough that I wanted a lot more of it. More time could have been spent developing the new "heroes" and Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front (who have a criminally small number of scenes) in particular. This is the kind of story that could easily have been twelve issues in length, as opposed to the four prestige format issues we have. Still, like Marvels (also painted by Ross), this is a compelling look at the DC Universe (or a DC Universe, anyway), seen larger than life through the eyes of an everyman character. It's definitely worth a look, but you'll get a lot more out of it if you have some familiarity with the DC Universe already.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Last of the Time Lords
May 20th, 2008, 05:18 AM
Loved this story. Shame the sequel wasn't as good.

Miller did sort of a riff of Kingdom Come with the even more cynical "Dark Knight Strikes Again". To me that story marks the exact point in his career that he went completely batshit insane.
The Kung Fu Cowboy
May 20th, 2008, 02:58 PM
Definitely a masterpiece. I agree that it is a tad short but all of the extras really make up for it. Did you find Thor, Spiderman and Captain America? How many times did you see the Beatles? It's chock fully of extra tidbits.
Forum Virgin
May 20th, 2008, 04:58 PM
I whole heartedly agree. Ross is my favorite comic artist, and absolutly must have everything his hand has been a part of. Anyone who reads Kingdom Come because of this article should also check out Justice.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
May 20th, 2008, 09:10 PM
it soudns like it's finally calculated the parodied fears of dystopian future based on metahuman action and inaction. i will consider looking into this one.
Amicable Herculean
May 20th, 2008, 11:18 PM
I love this book.
Pickleman's Uncle
May 21st, 2008, 04:37 PM
Kingdom Come is AMAZING. But yes, far, FAR too short. Could have been five times as long. Felt like Spider-Man 3. Shazam kicks ass. If there ever was a character who could turn into some unstoppable egomaniac villain, it's that dude.

Also felt like the whole narrative structure of that random guy looking at the events with the Specter was just some fancy ploy by Mark Waid to make it more "poetic" or "different" or whatever. Or maybe it was an excuse for Alex Ross to paint his dad.
The Wolf
May 21st, 2008, 06:49 PM
I love this and brought a copy of it to my dad's because I figured it might be something he'd enjoy, but he claimed he didn't understand it. I don't know if you really need to be into comic books for something like this, but I don't think that you do. It works on several different levels and it seems like the type of story most people could pick up and enjoy even if they're only reasonably familiar with the core characters.
Oozes machismo
May 25th, 2008, 09:00 PM
One of the best graphic novels I've ever read. It's length is fine; the story just has a lot of top-tier talent and new talent, and it can't give them all top billing. Like Protoclown said, "the art is the star of the show." I'd have high regard for the book if there were no words in it at all.
Forum Virgin
Jul 29th, 2008, 01:34 AM
This was Mark Waid's opus, kinda like Garth Ennis' "Preacher" or Warren Ellis' "Transmetropolitan" or Alan Moore's "Watchmen", just not quite as compelling... Come to think of it, Alan Moore had like four opuses... "opuses"? Is that right?