Kingdom Come (comics)
Cover to the Absolute Kingdom Come hardcover edition (2006). Art by Alex Ross.
|Publication date||May – August 1996|
|Number of issues||4|
|Absolute edition||ISBN 1-4012-0768-5|
Kingdom Come is a four-issue comic book mini-series published in 1996 by DC Comics under their Elseworlds imprint. It was written by Alex Ross and Mark Waid and painted in gouache by Ross, who also developed the concept from an original idea. This Elseworlds story is set in a future that deals with a growing conflict between "traditional" superheroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, 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.
- 1 Development
- 2 Plot
- 3 Characters
- 4 Appearances in mainstream continuity
- 5 Collected editions
- 6 Spin-offs
- 7 In other media
- 8 References
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.
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2012)|
In this Elseworlds story, for nearly a decade, members of the Justice League have abandoned their roles as superheroes after the rise and strong public support of a new superhero named Magog, who has no qualms about murdering in cold blood. In the ensuing decade, a newer generation of superpowered "metahumans" arise; these metahumans engage each other in destructive battles without true cause and with little distinction between "heroes" and "villains." The narrator, a minister named Norman McCay, receives apocalyptic visions of the future from a dying Wesley Dodds. The Spectre appears to McCay and recruits him to help pass judgment on the approaching superhuman apocalypse.
Second coming of Superman
Coaxed back into action by Wonder Woman, Superman decides to return to Metropolis and re-form the Justice League following the Kansas disaster to rein in the new breed of heroes. He manages to collect reformed "new heroes", such as Avia (Mr. Miracle and Big Barda's daughter) and former heroes, including Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, and Dick Grayson (now known as Red Robin) among others, except for the Batman, one of the most prominent of the old guard. Superman makes a personal visit to the Batcave in hopes to sign up the world's most dangerous man, but the Batman refuses to join Superman's intervention, as Batman resents him for leaving the world ten years ago, abandoning the superheroes at the crucial point that the superhero population needed a role model the most. Batman also warns Superman that his idealist notions are outdated and that his interference will only exacerbate the world's problems, insisting that strategy and delicacy is required, not force. He interprets Superman's plan as an example of the strong exerting their will upon the weak, something which he will not be part of. In response to Superman's Justice League being a new piece on the chess board, Batman activates his network of agents that have been long in the making and is the equivalent to a large personal army, made up largely of the younger breed consisting of second and third generation heroes like Jade, daughter of the first Green Lantern, and Zatara, son of Zatanna and grandson of the first generation hero whose name he shares, while trusted veterans, such as Green Arrow and Blue Beetle, are chosen by Batman to be chief in command. Both Superman's army and Batman's army consist of non-powered and super-powered members.
Lex Luthor is still alive and well, and has organized the "Mankind Liberation Front". The MLF is primarily a group of Silver Age Justice League villains, including Batman foes Catwoman and the Riddler; Vandal Savage; King, leader of the Royal Flush Gang, as well as third generation villains, like Ra's al Ghul's successor, Ibn al Xu'ffasch, who is Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul's son. The MLF works to wrest control of the world away from the heroes.
Superman's Justice League gathers more captives than converts, and his prison (nicknamed "The Gulag") is filled to capacity almost as soon as it is built. Superman designates Scott Free, the former Mr. Miracle, as warden, aided by other heroes, including Big Barda and Captain Comet, and works to persuade the inmates that their methods are wrong-headed and dangerous, but his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. With hostile hero-villains like 666, Kabuki Kommando, and Von Bach locked up together, pressure builds. Meanwhile, Superman, urged on by Wonder Woman, reacts with increasing inflexibility towards the inappropriate behavior of the metahuman community. He learns that Wonder Woman's ardent militant stance may be influenced by her recent exile from Paradise Island: in the eyes of the Amazons, her mission to bring peace to the outside world has failed.
At first, Batman and his cadre of heroes seem to enter into an alliance with the MLF as a united front against the Justice League. Now aligned with the Batman, Luthor plans to exacerbate the conflict between the League and the inmates of the Gulag, where the ensuing chaos will afford Luthor an opportunity to seize power. As a master of espionage and deception, the Batman utilizes the Martian Manhunter to discover that an adult Billy Batson is under the villains' control after retiring from superheroics due to his inability to cope with the world's increasing brutality and being brainwashed by Luthor, who plays on Batson's fear that he may be as 'evil' as the other metahumans. Batson, who becomes Captain Marvel when he utters the word "Shazam!", is the one being capable of matching Superman's power.
When the Gulag's inmates riot, killing Captain Comet, Luthor unwittingly reveals to Batman how he intends to use the brain-washed Batson to break open the Gulag against the Justice League. Now having his answer, Batman's forces ambush Luthor and his conspirators. Although Luthor and the MLF are captured, Batman is unable to restrain the brain-washed Batson, who transforms into Marvel and flies to Kansas, carrying out the last order in his head: Open the Gulag and unleash chaos.
With the super-powered prisoners rioting out of control inside the Gulag and Wonder Woman leading the Justice League army to engage them and kill, Superman is confounded by how this escalation of events was brought on by himself. Thus he rushes at superspeed to the one man he knows has the answer and crashes through the ceiling into the Batcave. Superman debates heatedly with Batman, trying to make him recognize they may be facing the end of the world. Batman at first justifies inaction by saying the world would be better off if all the metahumans destroy each other. Superman rejects this notion, pointing out that if all human life is sacred, then logically, that includes superhuman life. Superman knows that Batman will act, because his entire crimefighting life is based upon the desire to prevent the loss of human life. Being slightly moved by Superman's sentiments, Batman tips Superman off with the information that Captain Marvel is under Luthor's control and is on the way to the Gulag.
Superman races to the Gulag, but upon arrival he is struck down by Captain Marvel who also causes a breach in the Gulag, freeing the population, thus inciting war between Wonder Woman's Justice League and the metahuman prisoners. The Spectre and Norman look on as Wonder Woman's League wages war with the prisoners and Superman is kept at bay by Captain Marvel.
Batman's army arrives on site as an intervening third party, with Bruce Wayne leading them into battle wearing a flying warsuit of his own invention. Although Batman's forces aid the Justice League in quelling the riot, he also works to restrain the League from killing any metahuman. However he fails in this, as Wonder Woman kills Von Bach in the act of attempting to crush Zatara, one of Batman's force. This brings Batman into direct conflict with Wonder Woman.
As conditions worsen, United Nations Secretary General Wyrmwood authorizes the deployment of three tactical nuclear warheads, hardened against certain metahuman powers. While this action will destroy hero and villain alike, the U.N. feels it has no choice in the matter: if humanity is to survive, metahumanity must be destroyed.
An armored Batman and Wonder Woman clash in the middle of the warzone, taking to the skies where they see the incoming stealth bombers (piloted by the Blackhawk Squadron) delivering the nuclear bombs. Dropping their own conflict, they manage to stop two of the missiles but the third slips past.
Captain Marvel continues to batter Superman by screaming "Shazam!" repeatedly, calling down his magic lightning bolt but dodging before it hits, thus leaving Superman to bear its brunt. However, as Marvel says the name again, Superman grabs him and the lightning finds its mark; Marvel turns back into Billy Batson. Holding Batson's mouth shut, Superman tells Batson that he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make an important choice: either stop Superman and allow the warhead to kill all the metahumans, or let Superman stop the bomb and allow the metahumans' war to engulf the world. Superman tells Batson he must be the one to make this decision, as he is the only one who lives in both worlds, that of normal humans (as Batson) and the metahuman community (as Marvel).
Superman releases him and flies off to stop the incoming bomb. Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor's influence, says the name, and turns into Captain Marvel. Flying up, he grabs Superman, flinging him back to the ground. He continues up and intercepts the missile, having found a third option. Captain Marvel shouts "Shazam!" three more times in rapid succession, and the lightning sets off the bomb prematurely, killing Batson in the process.
Despite Marvel's sacrifice, most of the metahumans are obliterated in the explosion, although some survive beneath a force field generated by Green Lantern and his daughter Jade, and others are teleported away at the last second by Fate. Superman, though outside the force field, is virtually unscathed, though he does not at this time realize there were any other survivors.
Giving in to his rage at the tremendous loss of life, Superman flies to the U.N. Building and threatens to bring it down atop the delegates as punishment for the massacre, and for reacting in such a fearful and cowardly way to the metahuman war. The surviving metahumans arrive, but Norman McCay is the one who talks him down, pointing out how his appearance and behavior are exactly the sort of reasons that normal humans fear the superpowered. Chastised and ashamed, Superman immediately ceases his rampage. He is handed Captain Marvel's cape, the only remnant of the hero, and tells the U.N. representatives that he will use his wisdom to guide, rather than lead, humankind. Superman ties Captain Marvel's cape to a flagpole and raises it among the flags of the member nations of the U.N., suggesting that this role of guidance will be more political and global in nature than the classic crime-busting vigilantism of the past.
In the aftermath of the metahuman civil war, the heroes actively strive to become fully integrated members of the communities they had previously tried to distance themselves from. Masks are abandoned. Wonder Woman's exile from Paradise Island ends, and she becomes an ambassador for super-humanity, taking the survivors of the Gulag to Paradise Island for rehabilitation.
Batman abandons his crusade and becomes a healer, opening his mansion as a hospital to care for those wounded by the destruction of Kansas and the ensuing violence. He also reconciles with both Dick Grayson/Red Robin, and his son Ibn al Xu'ffasch. Superman lashes himself to a giant plow and begins the arduous task of restoring the Midwestern farmlands, devastated in the Justice Battalion's attempt to capture the Parasite. He even comes to terms with his past as Clark Kent by accepting a pair of glasses from Wonder Woman, and shares a kiss with her before she returns to Paradise Island. It is a fitting parallel to the end of the generational conflict that started the war, as both men have come full circle in their lives and adopted the vocations of their fathers; Thomas Wayne, the doctor, and Jonathan Kent, the farmer.
Norman McCay resumes pastorship of his congregation, preaching a message of hope for humanity. Among the congregation is Jim Corrigan, the Spectre's human host. In the novelization, Clark Kent attends a sermon as well.
Collected edition additional scenes
The first additional scene takes place at the end of the second part of the series, when Superman visits Orion on Apokolips wanting his advice for what to do with the captive rogue metahumans. Orion tells Superman to look for Scott Free and Big Barda.
The second additional scene is an epilogue. At Planet Krypton, a theme restaurant owned by Michael Jon Carter, Clark Kent and Diana Prince intend to inform Bruce Wayne they are expecting a child, but Bruce deduces the news before they can tell him. Diana asks Bruce to serve as godfather and mentor to the child. He accepts after Clark states that he believes that Bruce will provide a balancing influence to the child, adding that in spite of their differences over the years he has always trusted Batman. Bruce then notices Norman and Jim Corrigan, discussing the restaurant's "Spectre Platter", much to Corrigan's irritation that this is how he was to be remembered.
Superman's Justice League
Many of the members of the re-formed Justice League are either old characters in new forms or brand new adoptions of old names. Partial list:
- Superman: The leader of the League and a silver templed Man of Steel who is growing uneasy with the role of being a world leader during a time of extreme tension. Due to a lifetime of absorbing yellow-solar radiation, he is more powerful than ever, and has even become resistant to kryptonite. His invulnerability is high enough to withstand the nuclear bomb at the Gulag; however he's still vulnerable to magic (In the novelization, it is implied he may no longer be particularly vulnerable to magic after his battle with Captain Marvel). Superman dons his "S" symbol shield on his chest with a black backdrop rather than the original yellow, a color that symbolizes that he is still in mourning not only because of Lois Lane's assassination by the Joker, but his own stance regarding the superhuman issue.
- Wonder Woman: Superman's lieutenant is being slowly consumed by an inner rage directed at the state of the world and her exile from Paradise Island. Her fellow Amazons have deemed her mission to bring peace to "man's world" a failure. At the conclusion, she is restored her royal station as Princess, but eschews the ambassadorial role of "Wonder Woman", leaving it to other Amazons. (In the novelization, Cressida becomes the new Wonder Woman.)
- Red Robin: Dick Grayson, the first Robin, has replaced Batman on the Justice League and is estranged from his former mentor. Was injured by 666 in the Gulag war and carried away by his daughter Nightstar before the nuclear bomb blast.
- Flash: After melding with the Speed Force, the Flash's molecules have become unstable and as a result, he is constantly in motion; this allows him to see every plane of existence, including ethereal planes. He is referred to as "Wallace West" in the novelization; Waid later confirmed this Flash to be Wally West in The Kingdom, although his costume resembles that of Jay Garrick. He is saved from the Gulag bombing by Green Lantern Jade's shields.
- Green Lantern: Ending his vigil among the stars, Alan Scott returns to Earth and joins Superman's crusade. He needs no power ring, having incorporated the lantern that fueled the ring into his armor. His space station, dubbed "New Oa", becomes the Justice League's new satellite headquarters. At the conclusion of the miniseries, he becomes a UN charter member under the nation of New Oa.
- Hawkman: Now a literal 'hawk-man', he has become a guardian of nature, though also referred to as an ecological terrorist. The story does not specify which version of Hawkman this is, apart from "combining the spirit of the old with the otherworldly flesh of the new", which suggests Carter Hall in the body of the post-Zero Hour "Hawkgod". He is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Donna Troy: Seen wearing Amazon robes, it is possible the former Wonder Girl may have replaced her sister/mentor Wonder Woman as Paradise Island's ambassador to the world. She has also aged considerably compared to Diana: going slightly gray and putting on weight. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Red Arrow: The former Speedy and Arsenal is now following in the footsteps of his mentor, the Green Arrow, down to a mustache, goatee and exact copy of Green Arrow's costume, but in red. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Aquaman: Garth, the former Aqualad, now the inheritor of his mentor's mantle as Aquaman. He wears a variation of his 'Aqualad' costume, but sports a beard and long pants. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- King Marvel and Lady Marvel are now married. They have a superpowered son named The Whiz, who is also a member of this League but may have been left behind on the satellite headquarters before the Gulag battle. King Marvel is visually based on Elvis Presley, who was a fan of Captain Marvel Jr in reality, hence the name. King Marvel was last seen getting shot in the head by Spy Smasher during the Gulag battle.
- Aleea Strange: Adam Strange's daughter, who has taken up her father's mantle. Killed in the nuclear blast
- Power Woman: The former Power Girl. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast - this is also confirmed in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22. Further, just as Wonder Woman arrives in Kansas near the end of the original Kingdom Come, Superman is seen kneeling at an unidentified tombstone. In JSA v3 022, the tombstone is revealed to be that of Power Woman. The partially obscured engraving reads KARA / KAREN STARR / POWER WOMAN, and this is followed by a single line of Kryptonian alphanumeric characters.
- Robotman: The former Cyborg, now composed of liquid metal. Petrified by the nuclear blast.
- Red Tornado I: A heavily armed Mathilda Hunkel.
- Human Bomb: An explosion-causing metahuman. The collected edition calls him "the same combustible hero of old", implying this is Roy Lincoln.
- Midnight: The ghost of Dr. Mid-Nite, appearing in the form of a smoke-cloud.
- Captain Comet: He is chosen by Superman to be warden of the Gulag. He is killed in a prison riot when his back is snapped by Von Bach.
- Bulletman and Bulletgirl: The successors of the original Golden Age duo.
- Brainiac's Daughter: Brainiac's offspring and the ancestor of Brainiac 5. This character was inspired by the XTC song of the same name, and is visually based on the pre-Crisis Supergirl (who was the object of an unrequited love by Brainiac 5).
- Red Tornado: A female Red Tornado with wind-powers. Her identity as Maxine Hunkel is confirmed by Superman in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #10.
- Starman: (The former) Star Boy from the Legion of Super Heroes. As revealed in Justice Society of America (vol 3) #2, he ends up on New Earth at the time of the bomb blast, and in fact was accidentally shunted to this universe (Earth-22) while time-traveling on a mission with the Legion of New Earth.
- Golden Guardian: The second clone of Jim Harper, who took up his predecessor's role. Killed by the bomb blast.
- Hourman: The successor of the first two Hourmen, not having his predecessor's time limit. In Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22, one of the Gulag tombstones reveals this version of Hourman to be Rick Tyler.
- Sandman: Formerly Sandy the Golden Boy, then Sand, he's taken up the mantle of Sandman after his mentor, Wesley Dodds, died. The collection edition mentions that "the sands of time have stood still" for him, implying agelessness.
- Living Doll: The daughter of Doll Man and Doll Girl.
- Tornado: The ghost of the Tornado Champion, the sentient entity that was part of Red Tornado II (John Smith).
- Avia: The daughter of Mister Miracle and Big Barda, both of whom served as wardens of the Gulag. In the novelization, she and her parents survive the Gulag bombing through a boom tube, thanks to her father's uncanny foresight.
- Atom Smasher: The godson of Atom. The name "Atom Smasher" was coined in Kingdom Come; during the time of the book's publishing he was still known as Nuklon.
- Ray: Son of the first Ray. He was one of the survivors of the Gulag battle after being teleported out of the fight by Fate. The Ray is responsible for removing the radiation from Kansas, twice - once after the Justice Battalion disaster and the second time after the Gulag bombing.
- Power Man: An android programmed by Superman.
- Phoebus: Earth's newest fire elemental after Firestorm. Burned into the ground by the nuclear blast.
- Alloy: The combined form of the Metal Men, a member of Magog's Justice Battalion. Along with Magog, he is the only survivor of the Kansas disaster, and he later joins the Justice League. He is blasted in half by the nuclear strike.
Batman has formed a group of metahumans, similar to his Outsiders, many of which are second-generation heroes, to combat the Justice League and the Mankind Liberation Front. Playing upon the generational differences between the heroes, five of his heroes are the children of the original Teen Titans, while the Titans have all sided with Superman. Partial list:
- Batman: Since his real identity was made public, the Batman no longer hides behind the carefree appearance of Bruce Wayne; as a result, Wayne Manor was destroyed by Two-Face and Bane. In fact, he is referred to as "The Batman" even in civilian guise and does not bother with the cape and cowl until the final battle. No longer the example of human perfection, he now requires an exoskeleton to move and uses robots and a battle suit to continue his war on crime. He has consequently transformed Gotham City into a police state, his former guise as the cowled vigilante being replaced by an army of large bat-like machines which patrol the streets, controlled by Batman from his sealed-off Batcave. His distrust of both Superman and Luthor leads him to form the Outsiders. He objects to both the League and the MLF's plans for making a better world, feeling mankind should be able to make its own decisions and mistakes.
- Oliver Queen: One of Batman's partners, he has married his long-time love Dinah Lance, Black Canary, and the two have a daughter, Olivia Queen, who also operates as Black Canary. According to the novel, he was killed in the nuclear blast (his skeleton can be seen on page 187, directly to the left of Superman, still cradling his wife).
- Dinah Queen: One of Batman's partners, the former Black Canary now wields a bow like her husband Green Arrow. She was among the fatalities in the Gulag battle, with one panel showing Green Arrow holding her body in his arms after she was accidentally shot in the head by the metahuman Trix. She dies in Queen's arms during the blast.
- Black Canary: Olivia Queen, daughter of Oliver and Dinah Queen.
- Blue Beetle: Ted Kord, one of Batman's partners, who now wears a Blue Beetle armored battle suit powered by the mystical scarab that gave the first Blue Beetle his powers. Kord is also killed in the nuclear blast (the Black Racer is seen behind him just beforehand).
- Jonn Jonzz: Once the Martian Manhunter, he has become a shell of his former self and can no longer control his powers. He tried to touch all humanity's mind at once and could not handle the torrents of hate, love, anger, sadness and joy. A shattered spirit, he maintains a permanently non-corporeal human form at all times now and does not participate in any super heroics until Batman persuades him to help one last time. His presumed daughter's body - in a variation of his classic costume - is seen lying on the ground during the final battle at the Gulag. He is seen a few pages previous in the Justice League headquarters. It is unconfirmed if J'onn himself participated in the Gulag battle.
- Kid Flash is the daughter of Wally West. According to the novel, she was among those killed by the nuclear blast. However, she appears in The Kingdom, as well as in The Flash (in the "Chain Lightning" arc) due to Hypertime.
- Darkstar: Son of Donna Troy, who has taken her place as Earth's Darkstar.
- Obsidian: Son of Alan Scott and brother to Jennie-Lynn Hayden. He manipulates shadows and darkness. His appearance resembles that of The Shadow.
- Green Lantern: Jade took up the mantle of Green Lantern after Kyle Rayner. Daughter of Alan Scott. She has all the powers of a Green Lantern without needing a ring. She saves herself, her father and some other heroes from the Gulag bombing with a Green Lantern shield. In Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22, she is shown 20 years later attending Batman's funeral in the company of a younger man wearing a Green Lantern ring.
- Tula: A seafaring malcontent. Daughter of the former Aqualad and Deep Blue. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Steel: After Superman went into seclusion, Steel switched his devotion to Batman. He now wields an iron bat-shaped battle axe.
- Wildcat: A man-panther with the spirit of the first Wildcat, Ted Grant.
- Zatara: The son of the late Zatanna and John Constantine, and grandson of Giovanni Zatara. Besides being a magician, he's inherited his father's ability to see the dead. According to the novel, he was so horrified by the nuclear blast that he was unable to use his magic to escape.
- Nightstar: The daughter of Dick Grayson and the deceased Starfire. She has inherited her mother's powers and abilities, but decides not to join her father in the Justice League. Effectively Batman's adoptive granddaughter, she becomes close to his natural son Ibn al Xu'ffasch. Survived the nuclear blast because, even though they were on opposite sides, she flew her father Red Robin away after he was injured in the fight. Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #22 shows her 20 years later at Batman's funeral, married to Ibn with two kids.
- Menagerie: Formerly Beast Boy, whose power is now limited to imaginary creatures.
- Nucloid: An elastic superhero with a nuclear core. His elongated skeleton can be seen amongst the bodies after the Gulag bombing.
- Huntress: An African superheroine based on the Golden Age Huntress Paula Brooks.
- Cossack: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Russia.
- Ace: An alien Bat-Hound, the giant winged steed of the Fourth World Batwoman.
- Batwoman: A Batman admirer from the Fourth World.
- Samurai: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Japan.
- Dragon: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of China.
- Creeper: Though he has aged, he is still the insane screwball he was when he was young. In the novelization, he switches sides several times during the Gulag battle, and is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Lightning: The daughter of Black Lightning and sister of Thunder.
- Condor: The last Black Condor.
- Ralph Dibny: The former Elongated Man, Ralph is contorted out of shape. It is presumed that he did not participate in the final battle at the Gulag - in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22, he is shown 20 years later attending Batman's funeral.
- Spy Smasher: An independent agent, in a post Cold War era.
- Phantom Lady: A literal phantom of the original version, who resembles Bettie Page.
- Red Hood: The daughter of Red Arrow and mercenary Cheshire.
- Fate: Nabu is able to channel his consciousness through the Helm and Cloak without the need for a host body. His primary role in the Gulag battle was using the Cloak as a teleporter - first he transported Batman's entire team to the Gulag battle and then saves several heroes from the nuclear blast by 'swallowing' them with the Cloak during the battle.
- Mr. Scarlet: A bright red devil of a man known for hanging out at Titans Tower bar with Matrix, the new Joker's Daughter, and the new Thunder.
- Bat-Knights: Batman's robotic guardians of Gotham City, each of which resembles a cross between a Batmobile and a Transformer. At least two of them were sent into the Gulag battle until they were destroyed by the bomb. At the end of the graphic novel, they are painted white and used as air filtration units when Wayne Manor is turned into a hospital/hospice.
Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front
Since Superman's departure ten years ago, Luthor and the MLF have been conducting events behind the scenes in an attempt to destroy metahumans and rule the world at last.
- Lex Luthor: The MLF's leader. Goes into mad fits whenever mention is made of Superman. He ends up being put to work in Wayne Manor, tending to victims of the Gulag battle. In the additional epilogue, Batman says he had twice caught Luthor sneaking into the Batcave to hack the computer
- Captain Marvel: Luthor's brainwashed houseboy and the last step in his plan for destroying Superman and the League. The now-adult Billy Batson is physically indistinguishable from his Captain Marvel form, and for most of the story, Luthor's compatriots believe that it is Captain Marvel who attends Luthor's needs, when in fact it is an all-too-vulnerable Batson. Coincidentally, Batson's brainwashing is the result of bio-engineered worms (resembling real-life versions of Mr. Mind) created by his deceased old enemy Sivana. Killed by deliberately setting off the nuclear bomb prematurely over Ground Zero.
- Vandal Savage: The only willing member of the MLF with any powers to speak of: immortality. In the novelization, Spectre expresses deep annoyance at the fact that Savage's immortality prevents him from administering justice on him. Savage, like Luthor, assists with victims of the nuclear fallout - in the additional epilogue, Batman praises Savage for his extensive healing experience.
- Ibn al Xu'ffasch: The son of Batman and Talia al Ghul, the heir to Ra's al Ghul's criminal organization, and used as a mole to infiltrate Luthor's MLF. His role is not fully revealed until the third issue (p. 144 in the graphic novel), when he is standing among the Outsiders just before Zatara teleports Batman to the Batcave. In Arabic, his name means "son of the bat". Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22 shows him at Batman's funeral 20 years later, married to Nightstar with two children: a daughter and a son.
- Selina Kyle: The only female member of the MLF. According to the novelization, she becomes wealthy from running a cosmetics corporation. Her attraction with cats is still evident as she is shown talking with the man-panther Wildcat just before the MLF are taken down by Batman's team.
- Edward Nigma: Is part of the group only as a courtesy to Selina (the novelization calls him one of Selina's "accessories"), he tends to get under Luthor's skin. At the end he is seen sitting next to Selina in Wayne Manor, taking care of a victim of the Gulag battle.
- Lord Naga: A cult leader better known as Kobra. Naga indicates that some of the rogue metahumans are former super-villains rebranded by the MLF.
- King of the Royal Flush Gang: The MLF's newest member, and, like Savage, also immortal.
- Red, White, and Blue: Three heavily armed terrorists. They are actually androids under Luthor's control who are used as spies in the Gulag.
Magog's Justice Battalion
Magog and his followers who are violent vigilantes who deal out "justice" in the form of death to anyone who commits a crime.
- Magog: Ironically referred to as the new 'Man of Tomorrow'. Magog and the composite Metal Men hero Alloy were the only survivors of the Justice Battalion, and at least partially responsible for the destruction of Kansas, for which Magog later seeks forgiveness. Magog is a repentive inmate at the Gulag and does not fight in the Gulag battle. Instead he is seen carrying injured heroes to Green Lantern Jade's protective shields. At the end of Kingdom Come, Magog lives on Paradise Island and is seen disciplining Swastika, having finally seen the need for self-restraint. In the novelization, he matures to the point of becoming a Dean of Students there.
- Captain Atom: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion. His death/detonation at the hands of the villain Parasite and the following irradiation of Kansas cause Superman to return to action.
- Judomaster: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion. She is apparently killed with the other members when Captain Atom is killed.
- Alloy: The combined form of the Metal Men, a member of Magog's Justice Battalion. Along with Magog, he is the only survivor of the Kansas disaster, and he later joins the Justice League. He is blasted in half by the nuclear strike.
- Nightshade: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion who dies when Captain Atom explodes.
- Peacemaker: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion, he wears an outfit reminiscent of Boba Fett's. He perishes when Captain Atom detonates.
- Thunderbolt: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion, killed when Captain Atom explodes.
Metahumans with heroic legacies
- Thunder: A new Johnny Thunder with the mischievous spirit of Thunderbolt, he was one of the survivors of the Gulag battle. Can shoot lightning from his fingers. His eyes glow continuously. He survives the Gulag battle after being shielded from the nuclear blast by Green Lantern Jade and is seen afterwards on Paradise Island. In Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #22, he and the other Paradise Island students are shown at Batman's funeral 20 years later, but he does not appear to have grown any bigger.
- Manotaur: A minotaur-like metahuman with "Rannian" armor and set of weapons. He survives the Gulag battle after being shielded from the nuclear blast by Green Lantern Jade. In the novelization, he, too, becomes a teacher at Paradise Island, a fitting fate for "one whose ancestors bedeviled the Amazons long ago."
- Trix (after Matrix): a morphing biomechanism. Near the end of the series, she accidentally shoots Dinah Lance (Black Canary) in the head during the Gulag riot. She is saved from the bomb by Magog and Green Lantern Jade, and is last seen on Paradise Island. In Justice Society of America (vol 3) #22, she and the other Paradise Island students attend Batman's funeral 20 years later, her biomechanic armor removed.
- Stars: an African-American street kid wearing a leather jacket with an American flag bandana, and a T-shirt with an inverted American flag, using the cosmic rod in conjunction with the cosmic converter belt.
- Stripes: Equipped with various military accoutrement such as automatic weaponry, knives and Kevlar padding. Apparently suffered a fatal head injury during the Gulag battle.
- Mr. Terrific: The successor of Mister Terrific with oversized guns, shoulder pads, and other military accouterments. He still sported the "Fair Play" logo, but has since lost sight of its true and original meanings. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Vigilante: A half-man, half-robot cowboy with a machine gun arm.
The superbeings of the future who have virtually no regard for human life. Many of them were killed in the Gulag battle, but most have already made their mark in the world as monsters. Listed below are the major, supporting, or otherwise notable characters.
- Blue Devil: A winged, indigo-skinned demon from Hell.
- King Crimson: Gigantic, red-skinned demon with a Sun symbol on its chest.
- Von Bach: A Yugoslavian would-be dictator who speaks in German. He was imprisoned in the Gulag for killing opponents who had already surrendered. After being humiliated by Captain Comet during his incarceration, he made Comet the first fatality of the prison riot by breaking his neck. He was then killed by Wonder Woman during the Gulag battle to stop him from killing Zatara. Von Bach is modeled after Milan Fras, the singer of the Slovenian experimental music group Laibach.
- 666: A gothic looking man/machine hybrid with little respect for the heroes of the past and is one of the major prisoners inside of the gulag. 666 battles other metahumans not for justice, but for sport. Visually based on Brian Azzarello. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- NIL-8: A superpowered robot, whose name is a homophone for "annihilate".
- Joker's Daughter: A riot girl and one of the many followers of the Joker's style. This one has no relation to the other four Harlequins, Duela Dent, or Harley Quinn. She was one of the survivors of the Gulag Battle after being teleported away by Fate. After the battle, she lived on Paradise Island with most of the other survivors, and appeared to have tattooed a tear shape under her left eye. Modeled after Scary Godmother writer Jill Thompson.
- Catwoman: The armored metahuman successor to Selina Kyle, this one might be more feline than the original.
- The Americommando and the Minutemen: A group of savage patriots who started killing the huddled masses of immigrants near the Statue of Liberty. The Minutemen were controlled by the mysterious Brain Trust.
- Demon Damsel: Would-be Legionnaire.
- Tokyo Rose: A Japanese martial arts assassin. She survives the nuclear blast when she is saved by Magog and Green Lantern Jade, but ends up wheelchair-bound after battling Red Robin at the Gulag.
- Germ-Man: A Nazi-esque biological warfare expert and apparent associate of Von Bach.
- Stealth: A gold-armored female metahuman who can cloak her presence.
- Shiva the Destroyer: A blue-skinned, four-armed Indian metahuman resembling the Hindu god of the same name.
- Buddha: A sumo-themed metahuman wearing a cracked Budai mask.
- Tusk: An elephant-like robot. Dismantled by Robotman III in the final battle.
- Cathedral: A British metahuman wearing armor styled after a church.
- Black Mongul: A Mongolian metahuman.
- Pinwheel: A sadomasochistic metahuman clad entirely in tight leather.
- Swastika: An American militia man and anarchist. Suffers a major throat wound at the hands of Cossack during the Gulag battle, but survives the nuclear blast after he is saved by Magog and Green Lantern Jade. He is last seen on Paradise Island getting disciplined by Magog.
- Norman McCay: An elderly pastor who serves as both the narrator of the story and as the Spectre's human guide as the events unfolded.
- Arthur Curry: Arthur has given up the mantle of Aquaman and dedicated himself fully to his role as monarch of Atlantis, his appearance hearkening to King Arthur. The identity of his queen was Dolphin. He is approached by Wonder Woman to use the oceans as the location of the Gulag, but refuses to accept any more of the surface-world's problems despite his support of Garth's new role as Aquaman.
- Orion: Orion appears in the collected edition of KC, in pages Ross added to the collection. Orion has killed his father Darkseid and taken his place as ruler of Apokolips. His frustration at this leads him to resemble his Father in both appearance and demeanor. He attempted to bring democracy to Apokolips, but was unanimously elected by the fearful slave-minded lowlies. In the novelization, Orion hints that he recruited Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and Mikhail Gorbachev to help him run a fair election, but failed.
- Deadman: He has lost or foregone his normal appearance, and appears as a skeleton wearing his Deadman uniform. He is never identified as "Deadman", and simply introduces himself as "Boston". In the novelization, he explains why none of the Quintessence (comprising Shazam, Ganthet, The Phantom Stranger, Zeus, Highfather, and Spectre) will get involved - the situation almost always turns for the worse, using Zeus' intervention with Troy as an example. (Spectre posits that the Quintessence meet to prevent one another from intervening.)
- Spectre: The Spectre takes Norman McCay through the events of a possible future, his aim to determine who is responsible for an impending apocalyptic event. However, his "faculties are not what they once were," and he needs a human perspective to properly judge events. In conversation with McCay, Deadman mentions that Spectre had become further and further removed from humanity over time; and, aside from his cloak, he is also naked (an attitude similar to that of Doctor Manhattan from the classic graphic novel Watchmen). The Spectre is convinced by McCay to try to see things through the perspective of his human host, and, as Jim Corrigan, he can be seen in the congregation of McCay's church at the end of the story, as well as at the Planet Krypton restaurant, visibly upset the dish named after him, "the Spectre Platter", is a mild concoction of spinach and cottage cheese.
- Parasite: Contrary to his usual persona, Parasite is portrayed as an unstable villain with severe short-term memory loss problems, and a coward. He literally "splits the Atom" when he makes contact with Captain Atom, causing a super-nuclear explosion that destroys Kansas.
- Cameo appearances: A monkey, cat, dog, and a white horse appear on Superman's "farm" as an homage to the Legion of Super-Pets. The Gotham street gang surrounded by the Bat-Knights in the first issue are loosely based on Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Icelandic pop-singer Björk appears in the crowd after Superman saves the cable car. Bat-Mite, one of Batman's biggest fans from the 1950s appears on various screens in the Bat-Cave's computer. Spock from Star Trek is in the background at p 84 near Nightstar. Phil Sheldon from Ross' Marvels appears at the JLA's news conference in the second issue and in the epilogue. The nightclub scene from the second issue has cameo appearances by Steve Miller's Joker, Vril Dox, Solomon Grundy (as a bouncer), Tommy Walker and the Acid Queen from Tommy, Zan of the Wonder Twins (as a waiter), a fat balding Lobo, the Village People, Plastic Man, Shadow Lass, Marvin (from Super Friends), The Shadow, Rorschach (breaking someone's finger), and even Ambush Bug appears behind the meta-human 666. Weather wizard is also the bartender and his photo can be seen behind him with the rest of the rogues and several other pop culture figures. The two jailers from Life of Brian appear in the extended scene with Scott Free in chapter 2 of the graphic novel. The Monkees and robotic versions of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band appear in the third issue as members of the Justice League, seen in the JLA headquarters before the final battle. Several of the Monkees and Sgt Pepper robots are killed/destroyed in the final battle. Seen charging the Gulag just immediately prior to the final battle are barely-visible Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man, Thor, Doctor Strange and Captain America. Two rogue metahumans who appeared in the third issue, April Fool and Goblyn Lord, were inspired by Columbia and Riff Raff respectively from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Also, in the first chapter, one of Jimmy Olsen's super hero iterations is seen on the big screen in Times Square as McCay is walking around. Various DC staff and creators (as of 1996) make cameo appearances throughout the series, mostly as bystanders. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman's creators) are seen in the congregation of McCay's church, directly in front of Jim Corrigan. The creators themselves, Waid and Ross, are shown in the graphic novel epilogue arguing at a table at Planet Krypton. Stan Lee also appears in the epilogue. The Planet Krypton waitress in the Robin costume who serves Bruce, Clark, and Diana in the epilogue is an homage to Carrie Kelly from Dark Knight Returns. Seated next to Norman McKay in the epilogue is Uncle Sam from Ross's Vertigo mini-series. The final panel includes the cover of New Fun Comics #1 *(1935), the first ever DC Comic, hanging on the wall of the restaurant.
Appearances in mainstream continuity
Due to the popularity of the series, Mark Waid and Alex Ross began to plot a sequel/prequel titled The Kingdom. Alex Ross' original intent was for Gog to be an alien, twice the size of a human, from the planet Urgrund that split into two and created Apokolips and New Genesis, and that Magog would be the grown son of Superman and Wonder Woman who would be mentored by Gog. Waid and Ross disagreed on several concepts and Ross decided to leave the project.
Without Ross' involvement, Waid continued the story in the New Year's Evil: Gog one-shot. The Kingdom mini-series soon followed, featuring a two-part series and several one-shots focusing on specific characters. The series was used to present Grant Morrison's Hypertime concept.
Thy Kingdom Come
The final issue of 52 reveals that Earth-22 is the designation of the Kingdom Come alternate universe.
In Justice Society of America (vol. 3), a new Starman appears wearing a costume identical to that of the Starman from the Kingdom Come series. It is soon revealed that this individual is indeed the Starman from Kingdom Come, and that he is also Thom Kallor, a native of the planet Xanthu and member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th and 31st centuries. Due to a time travel error, Starman traveled to Earth-22 before arriving in 21st century New Earth.
The "Thy Kingdom Come" story arc of the Justice Society of America title features the involvement of Alex Ross, as well as the appearance of the Kingdom Come Superman. Seeing the connection between Gog of New Earth and Magog of Earth-22, Superman-22 and the JSA seek to prevent New Earth from going the way of his own world by stopping Gog in his crusade to rid the world of false gods, and before he can choose a successor one day in Magog. The JSA is split in their opinions on Gog; some believe he is truly a benevolent god, while others are suspicious of his true intentions. To prove himself, Gog heals certain JSA members such as Starman, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Damage, and he resurrects Lance from the dead to make him his successor, Magog.
Soon, the JSA learns that Gog is forming a parasitic relationship with the planet Earth where, if he remains long enough, the planet will not be able to survive without him. All of the heroes turn on Gog, and he takes back the gifts he had given them, but he is still defeated. They remove his head, and Superman-22 and Starman take it to the Source Wall. Starman, whose costume has the power to transport people throughout the Multiverse, sends Superman back to Earth-22. He arrives in time to see the carnage caused by Captain Marvel detonating the bomb. The events of Kingdom Come continue from there and conclude in its entirety, except that it ends with several scenes depicting Superman and Wonder Woman's life as a couple and the legacy Superman leaves to his Earth.
Alex Ross states that this story is not intended as a sequel to Kingdom Come as that would negate the purpose of the original story.
Justice League: Generation Lost
A major subplot of Judd Winick and Keith Giffen's 2010 maxi-series, Justice League: Generation Lost concerns the events of Kingdom Come. The story sees Maxwell Lord being tasked by the Entity with killing Magog before he can inadvertently trigger an apocalyptic war between Earth's superhumans, which ultimately brings Magog and Lord into conflict with Justice League International. To drive the point home, the Entity shows Lord a series of visions taken directly from Kingdom Come, including Magog and the Justice Battalion attacking Parasite. Lord eventually succeeds in arranging Magog's demise, and his life is returned by the Entity.
During the first arc of the Superman/Batman series written by Jeph Loeb, the Kingdom Come Superman appears via a Boom Tube in the Batcave with the intent to kill Clark Kent, because according to him, Clark is responsible for the destruction of the Earth before Kingdom Come Superman suddenly vanishes while being distracted by Batman calling him "Clark". It is eventually revealed that this Superman came from a future in which a kryptonite meteorite crashed to the Earth. Later, due to a burst of energy quantum Captain Atom arrives in this future. He appears in a devastated Kansas (an homage to the Kingdom Come series) although Superman states the entire planet is in the same condition. Captain Atom returns to the present and uses a robot made by Toyman to destroy the giant meteorite of kryptonite, preventing this future to come true.
A boxed-set of the four individual issues was packaged in a die-cut cardboard sleeve with a Skybox trading card, part of a short-lived experimental program to package comics for resale at Toys R Us and other mass market retailers.
The original trade paperback collected the entire series along with twelve additional pages by Ross, including the epilogue. Promotional artwork and sketches of the major characters were also included. The trade was also printed as a hardback (without dustjacket) by Graphitti Designs.
A separate deluxe, slip-cased two-volume hardback edition, also co-published by DC and Graphitti Designs added a second volume (entitled Revelations) to the text, containing further sketches and developmental artwork from Ross, showing the development of the character designs and the storyline.
Elliot S. Maggin wrote the novelization which was published by Warner Aspect as a hardback, and (in limited numbers) a slip-cased, signed edition. It fleshes out characters such as Magog, the world leaders, and the Batman/Ib'n connection. The book contains four new color pages by Ross, as well as four black and white sketches of the major players.
A 1998 special from Wizard magazine contained the original proposal for the series by Ross, providing notes on what was changed and why. Ross' comments on The Kingdom were also included.
DC released an Absolute Kingdom Come hardcover edition in 2006. It collected the entire series in a significantly larger page format, along with interviews with Waid and Ross, character artwork, sketches and a complete annotation for the series.
Hachette Audio released an audio dramatization of the story, adapted from the novelization, featuring the voice talent of Mike Mearian, Don Peoples, Garet Scott, John Cunningham, Kent Broadhurst, Jeff David, Chuck Cooper, Harry Goz, Barbara Rosenblat, Craig Zakarian, Mike Arkin, Bob Lydiard, Peter Newman, Birgit Darby, Mark Finley, Igot Goldin, Macintyre Dixon, and Chloe Patellis, along with the guest voices of Dennis O'Neil, Mark Waid, Mike Carlin, Dan Raspler, Charles Kochman, Peter Tomasi, Greg Ross, Janet Harney, Elisabeth Vincentelli. The music for the audio version was composed by John Bauers.
The Comicology Kingdom Come Companion
In January 1999, Harbor Press published the first (special) issue of their comics magazine Comicology. The 272-page Comicology: Kingdom Come Companion, edited by Brian Lamken, focused heavily on Kingdom Come, featuring an A-Z of almost everything with extensive illustrations by Ross and various other commentary on the mini-series. It was the subject of a swift cease-and-desist notice from DC, objecting that the volume "constitute[d] an unauthorized derivative work that infringe[d] upon [DC's] copyrights, violates [their] trademark rights, and misappropriates [their] good will." Lamken acquiesced to the recall, despite protesting that DC had prior knowledge of the project. It is likely that the similarities between the material contained in the Revelations volume (available only with the purchase of the considerably-more-expensive Graphitti/DC two-volume set) contributed to the recall of the Comicology volume. The recall made the Companion arguably the most difficult Kingdom Come item to find.
In 1996, Fleer/Skybox released a set of trading cards based on Kingdom Come, entitled Kingdom Come eXtra. Alongside the 50 basic cards, featuring art by Ross and text by Waid, there are 15 "sketchboard" cards, 3 "Kingdom Classics" (featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in iconic poses), 6 "Alex Ross Original" cards, and some rarer autograph cards.
DC Direct (The exclusive collectibles division of DC Comics) has produced 3 waves of action figures based on Kingdom Come's artwork. The first wave of figures included Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Hawkman. The second wave included Batman, Red Robin, Captain Marvel and Kid Flash. The last wave included Magog, Flash, Armored Wonder Woman and Deadman. An exclusive figure of Red Arrow was released through ToyFare magazine. DC Direct also released several other characters through their Elseworlds toylines. These figures included The Spectre, Norman McCay, Jade, Nightstar, Aquaman and Blue Beetle. An updated version of Kingdom Come Superman was released in JSA series2 which was based on the covers that Alex Ross worked on.
Jay-Z Kingdom Come album
After hip hop icon Jay-Z retired in 2003 he made a come back in 2006 after many people felt that the mainstream hip hop genre was dying or dead altogether. Jay-Z's production engineer Young Guru, an avid comic book fan, told him about the plot of Kingdom Come and how an aged Superman came out of retirement to show and inspire the newest generation of super heroes how it is to be a true hero. Inspired by this, Jay-Z named his 2006 comeback album Kingdom Come, which sold more albums in the first week than any of his previous eight albums before it. In the song "Kingdom Come" on the album, he makes references to Superman, Clark Kent, Batman, the Bat-Signal and Spider-Man.
In other media
Although Kingdom Come has not been directly adapted to other media, certain elements or material depicted in its issues have been taken as inspiration for scenes created for adaptations of other DC Comics properties existing in the mainstream continuity, such as the following:
- In Justice League Unlimited, in the episode "Clash", the scenes depicting the climax of the battle between Superman and Captain Marvel, are directly inspired by the same event in Kingdom Come.
- Batman has made a habit of suddenly disappearing during a dialogue, and his interlocutor then discovers he or she has been left talking alone. This also happens in Kingdom Come, only this time, it's Batman who suffers it, when Superman suddenly disappears, to what Batman replies "So that's what that feels like". In Christopher Nolan's film The Dark Knight Rises, an identical scene takes place, only that instead of Superman, it is Catwoman who leaves Batman talking to himself, uttering exactly the same line.
- Bruce Timm's design for the aged Bruce Wayne's likeness in Batman Beyond is consistent with his appearance in Kingdom Come, which in turn was inspired by Gregory Peck's likeness.
- In the episode "Triumvirate of Terror!" of Batman: Brave and the Bold, the last scene is set 50 years in the future. The aged versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman bear visual similarities to how they were depicted in Kingdom Come. This especially applies to Batman who wears an exoskeleton as he did in Kingdom Come; as well as a hovering black wheelchair that transforms into an armored suit similar to the one he wore in the last part of the mini-series.
- Ross, Alex (May 10, 2006). "Alex Ross: Inside the Artist's Gallery". Wizard Entertainment. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
- Kingdom Come #1 (May 1996)
- Kingdom Come #2 (June 1996)
- Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
- Kingdom Come #4 (August 1996)
- Dundy, Elaine (2004). Elvis and Gladys. University Press of Mississippi. p. 69-70
- Ross, Alex (November 2005). Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. Pantheon. ISBN 978-0-375-71462-7.
- Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special - Superman (January 2009). p. 25.
- "Harbor Press calls an end to Comicology’s coverage of Kingdom Come". Sequential Tart. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
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