Comic: "Kingdom Come"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Mark Waid
Artist: Alex Ross
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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