On Mondays episode we discuss Kingdom Come. With beautiful art by Alex Ross, a script by Mark Waid this DC Elseworlds mini-series made a splash in 1996. This week we are discussing Kingdom Come. A futuristic story that deals with the conflict between the out of touch heroes we know, and a new group of dangerous vigilantes.
Kingdom Come is a four-issue comic book mini-series published in 1996 by DC Comics under their Elseworlds imprint. It was written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and painted in gouache by Ross, who also developed the concept from an original idea. This Elseworlds story is a deconstructionist tale set in a future that deals with a growing conflict between the visibly out-of-touch "traditional" superheroes, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes, in many cases the offspring of the traditional heroes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.
When comic book artist Alex Ross was working on Marvels, published in 1994, he decided to create a similar "grand opus" about characters from DC Comics. Ross wrote a 40-page handwritten outline of what would become Kingdom Come and pitched the idea to James Robinson as a project similar in scope to Watchmen (1986–1987) and Alan Moore's infamous "lost work" Twilight of the Superheroes. Ultimately, Ross teamed with writer Mark Waid, who was recommended by DC editors due to his strong familiarity with the history of DC superheroes.
Sometime in the not-so-distant future, Superheroes have lost sight of their true goal, their true calling. Most of the Super Villains are dead or taken care of, and the Heroes now battle each other over turf, bragging rights or whatever. Most of the Metahumans are descendants of former heroes, such as Nightstar, daughter of Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and Starfire’s daughter and Lightning, daughter of Black Lightning. The Heroes of the previous generation are mostly retired, following the lead of their greatest champion, Superman.
A battle finally ensues between the two generations. All the while, we watch through the eyes of an elderly pastor, Norman McKay. Norman was chosen by the Spectre to choose the fate of the guilty during Armageddon. Norman was chosen because of his relationship with the now deceased Wesley Dodds, the Sandman. McKay was the pastor in the hospital room when the Sandman died, and the Sandman passed his visions to McKay.
Superman, the greatest hero of Earth’s History, had been defending his adoptive planet for many years. He had grown to love and protect humanity. He had fallen in love with Lois Lane and married her. Superman manages to protect Earth daily. Until the day Joker came to town. The Joker killed 93 people at the Daily Planet, including Lois Lane. The slowly aging Superman searched everywhere for the Joker but the Joker was apprehended by the authorities. While in their custody, the Joker was killed in cold-blood by an up and comer Superhero named Magog. Infuriated, Superman took Magog to jail. Magog stood trial for the murder of the Joker but was acquitted. When this happened, Superman decides humanity and time had tossed him away, and retires.
After Superman’s retirement, many of his contemporaries followed his lead. This allowed the new generation of win at all costs Superheroes to take the lead in “crime fighting” and “world saving”. In fact, while Magog’s team of Superheroes were chasing down a “villain”, an accident occurs in which all of Kansas is destroyed. This is the queue for Superman’s return after ten long years. Superman reforms the Justice League with Wonder Woman, Red Robin (Dick Grayson), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Red Arrow, Hawkman and others. This sets the stage for a “New School” versus “Old School” battle.