Kingdom Come (comics)

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Kingdom Come
Cover to the Absolute Kingdom Come hardcover edition (2006). Art by Alex Ross.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Mini-series
Genre
Publication date May – August 1996
Number of issues 4
Main character(s) Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Captain Marvel
The Spectre
Norman McCay
Creative team
Writer(s) Mark Waid
Alex Ross
Artist(s) Alex Ross
Letterer(s) Todd Klein
Collected editions
Absolute edition ISBN 1-4012-0768-5
Hardcover ISBN 1563893177
Softcover ISBN 1563893304

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.

Development[edit]

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.[1]

Plot[edit]

In this Elseworlds story, Superman and the Justice League abandon their roles as superheroes after the rise and strong public support of a superhero named Magog, who has no qualms about murdering in cold blood. In the ensuing years, a newer generation of superpowered metahumans arise; they engage each other in destructive battles 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.

An attack on the Parasite, led by Magog, goes awry and much of the American Midwest is irradiated, killing millions and destroying a large portion of America's food production.[2] Coaxed back into action by Wonder Woman, Superman returns to Metropolis and re-form the Justice League.[2] He recruits new heroes along with older ones. The most prominent exception is the Batman, who resents Superman for leaving the world ten years ago. Batman warns Superman that his idealist notions are outdated and his interference will only exacerbate the world's problems, insisting that strategy and delicacy is required, not force. In response to Superman's Justice League, Batman activates his network of agents called the "Outsiders", made up largely of the younger second and third generation heroes, while trusted veterans, such as Green Arrow and Blue Beetle, are chosen as lieutenants.

Lex Luthor has organized the "Mankind Liberation Front". The MLF is secretly a group of Silver Age villains, including Catwoman, the Riddler, and Vandal Savage, 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 take control of the world from the heroes.[3]

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 works to persuade the inmates that their methods are wrong-headed and dangerous, but his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. With hostile heroes and villains locked up together, pressure builds. Meanwhile, Superman 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.

Batman and his Outsiders seem to enter into an alliance with the MLF as a united front against the Justice League. Luthor plans to exacerbate the conflict between the League and the inmates of the Gulag; the ensuing chaos will afford Luthor an opportunity to seize power. The Batman uses the Martian Manhunter to discover that an adult Billy Batson is under Luthor's control. Batson, as Captain Marvel, is the only metahuman capable of matching Superman's power.

When the Gulag's inmates riot and kill Captain Comet, Luthor unwittingly reveals to Batman he intends to use the brainwashed Batson to break open the Gulag. Batman's forces ambush Luthor and his conspirators, but they are unable to restrain Batson, who transforms into Marvel and flies off.

Superman and Captain Marvel face off in the final page of Kingdom Come #3. Art by Alex Ross.

While Wonder Woman leads the Justice League to the superhuman prison riot, Superman confronts Batman. Batman tries to justify inaction, saying the world would be better off if all the metahumans destroy each other. Superman points 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.[4] Moved by Superman's sentiments, Batman tells Superman that Captain Marvel is under Luthor's control and is on the way to the Gulag.

Superman races to the Gulag, but upon arrival is struck down by Captain Marvel. This causes a breach in the Gulag, freeing the population, and inciting war between Wonder Woman's Justice League and the metahuman prisoners. The Spectre and Norman look on as Wonder Woman's League engages 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 leading them in a flying warsuit of his own invention. Although Batman's forces aid the Justice League in quelling the riot, they also work to stop the League from killing any metahumans. He is unable to stop Wonder Woman from killing the supervillain Von Bach, which increases the fury of the riot. As conditions worsen, United Nations Secretary General Wyrmwood authorizes the deployment of three tactical nuclear warheads, hardened against metahuman powers. In the middle of their fight, Batman and Wonder Woman see the incoming stealth bombers (piloted by the Blackhawk Squadron). They break off fighting and manage to stop two bombs, but miss the third.

Captain Marvel is using his magic lightning bolt as a weapon against Superman, calling it again and again. Superman manages to grab Marvel and allow the bolt to transform him into Billy. Holding Batson's mouth shut, Superman tells him he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make a 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). Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor's influence, turns back into Captain Marvel. He grabs Superman, flinging him back to the ground, and flies after the missle. Marvel intercepts the missile and shouts "Shazam!" three times in rapid succession, detonating the bomb prematurely, and killing Batson in the process.

Despite Marvel's sacrifice, most of the metahumans are obliterated in the explosion. Superman is unharmed, but does not realize there are any other survivors. Enraged 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. 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. Superman immediately ceases his rampage. He is handed Captain Marvel's cape, and tells the U.N. 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.[5]

In the epilogue, the heroes strive to become fully integrated members of the communities. 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, rebuilding his mansion as a hospital to care for those wounded by the destruction of the Gulag. He reconciles with both Dick Grayson/Red Robin and his son Ibn al Xu'ffasch. Superman begins the task of restoring the Midwestern farmlands devastated in Gog's attempt to capture the Parasite. He 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. 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.[5]

Collected edition additional scenes[edit]

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 initially offers to accept Superman's charges as exiles to Apokolips. When Superman rejects that solution and claims he can learn nothing from Orion, Orion suggest Superman look to Scott Free and Big Barda for help. Scott and Barda agree to assist Superman back on Earth.

The second additional scene is an epilogue. At Planet Krypton, a theme restaurant owned by Michael Jon Carter, Clark Kent and Diana Prince meet with Bruce Wayne to catch up with one another. They to tell Bruce they are expecting a child, but he deduces the news first. Diana asks Bruce to serve as godfather. He accepts after Clark tells Bruce he will provide a balancing influence to the child, adding that in spite of their differences over the years, he has always trusted Batman. As they leave the restaurant, Bruce notices Norman and Jim Corrigan discussing the restaurant's "Spectre Platter" (a mild concoction of spinach and cottage cheese), much to Corrigan's irritation that this is how he is being remembered.

Characters[edit]

Protagonists[edit]

  • Norman McCay: An elderly pastor who serves as the narrator. After Wesley Dodds' death, Norman unwillingly inherits his late friend's precognitive powers. Norman was designed by Alex Ross as a homage to his own father, Reverend Clark Norman Ross.
  • The Spectre: The Agent of God's Wrath takes Norman through the events of a possible future 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. Norman succeeded in convincing him to try to see these events through his guide's human perspective and the two become close friends afterwards.

Superman's Justice League[edit]

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: Leader of the League. The silver-templed Man of Steel is growing uneasy with the role of being a world leader during a time of extreme tension. His "S" chest symbol shield backdrop and belt are black rather than the original yellow as a sign of mourning not only because of Lois Lane´s assassination by the Joker, but his own stance regarding the superhuman issue. Due to a lifetime of absorbing yellow-solar radiation, he is more powerful than ever, and has become resistant to kryptonite.
  • Wonder Woman: Superman's lieutenant. 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 starts a relationship with Superman, and her royal station as Princess is restored.
  • Red Robin: Dick Grayson, the original Robin. He has replaced his former mentor on the Justice League and is estranged from him. At the end of the story, he and Bruce reconcile and become friends again.
  • The Flash: He is referred to as "Wallace West" in the novelization; Waid later confirmed this Flash to be Wally West in The Kingdom, despite wearing Jay Garrick's helmet. 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 saved from the Gulag bombing by 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 and wields a longsword of light. His space station 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 he is Carter Hall in the body of the post-Zero Hour Thanagarian "Hawkgod". He is killed in the nuclear blast.
  • Power Woman: The former Power Girl (now physically enhanced to bodybuilder-like proportions) and the League's enforcer.
  • The Ray: Son of the first Ray. He is one of the survivors of the Gulag battle after being teleported out 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.
  • Donna Troy: Seen wearing Amazon robes, the former Wonder Girl has replaced her sister/mentor Wonder Woman as Paradise Island's ambassador to the world. She has aged considerably compared to Diana. 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. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
  • Aquaman: Garth, the former Aqualad, inheritor of his mentor's mantle as Aquaman. He wears a variation of his 'Aqualad' costume, but sporting long pants and thick beard. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
  • Robotman III: The former Cyborg; Victor Stone, now fully composed of liquid metal. Petrified by the nuclear blast.
  • Atom Smasher: Godson to the original Atom. The name "Atom Smasher" was coined in Kingdom Come; during the time of the book's publishing he was still known as Nuklon.
  • King Marvel: The adult, married Freddie Freeman and also father of the legitimate heir of the Power of Shazam. He and his family are left behind on the satellite headquarters before the Gulag battle as reservists. Freddie is visually based on Elvis Presley, who was a fan of Captain Marvel Jr in real life, hence the name.[6]
  • Lady Marvel: Mary Batson-Freeman, Freddie's wife and mother of The Whiz.
  • The Whiz: Freddie and Mary's teenage son, anointed as the legitimate heir of the Power of Shazam. He's seen for the first time in the novel defeated by Cathedral. Named after Whiz Comics, he was one of the earliest character designs created by Alex Ross. Due to his obvious designs he was originally named The Spider.
  • Aleea Strange: Adam Strange's daughter, who has taken up her father's mantle. Killed in the nuclear blast.
  • Red Tornado I: A heavily armed Mathilda Hunkel. Reservist member.
  • Cyclone: A female Red Tornado with wind-powers. Her identity as Maxine Hunkel is confirmed by Superman in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #10.
  • Tornado: Ulthoon, the original Tornado Champion. The sentient Rannian entity that was part of the robot Red Tornado II / John Smith. Disintegrated during the nuclear attack.
  • 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. Charles McNider, appearing in the form of a dense, pitch-black smoke cloud wearing his former cowl.
  • Captain Comet: Adam Blake. The mutant hero was chosen by Superman to be warden of the Gulag. He is killed in the prison riot when Von Bach snaps his back.
  • Hourman: The successor of the first Hourman, 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: The former Sandy, the Golden Boy. Sanderson Hawkins has taken up the mantle of Sandman after Wesley Dodds, his mentor, 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.
  • Bulletman and Bulletgirl: The successors of the original Golden Age duo.
  • Golden Guardian: The second clone of Jim Harper, who took up his predecessor's role. Killed by the bomb blast.
  • 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.
  • 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 object of Brainiac 5's unrequited love.
  • Mister Miracle: Scott Free, designer and chief guard at the Gulag. He and his family survived the bombing through a boom tube, thanks to his foresight.
  • Big Barda: Scott Free's wife, Avia's mother and guard at the Gulag. By the time she appeared on the novel, she had lost an eye.
  • Avia Free: Daughter of Mister Miracle and Big Barda. She wears her mother's battle armor, but sports her father's colors. She decides to follow her parents' ideals and join Superman's Justice League as guard in the Gulag.
  • Thunder: Son of the late Black Lightning, brother of Lightning and the new owner of the genie Yz. He can shoot electric bolts from his fingers and his eyes sparkle constantly. He survives the Gulag battle shielded from the nuclear blast by Jade.
  • Phoebus: The Earth's newest fire elemental after Firestorm. He joins to Justice League after a brief fight against them, fight at the Gulag riot and is burned into the ground by the nuclear blast.
  • Nucloid: An elastic nuclear-powered hero whose circulatory system glows with a fluorescent "black light" effect through his costume, that resembles what Ralph Dibny worn while in Justice League. He joins to the League in the wake of the Kansas disaster. Dies calcinated after the Gulag bombing.
  • Power Man: The last of the once many Superman robots under a metahuman disguise.

The Batman's "Outsiders"[edit]

Bruce Wayne has formed a group of human and metahuman heroes, 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. Partial list:

  • The Batman: Since his 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. His lifetime of injuries force him to wear an exoskeleton at all times. His costume is an armored suit with a Xistera-like weapon and a flying belt. He has transformed Gotham City into a police state aided by his army of "Bat-Knights" patrolling the streets, controlled from his sealed-off Batcave. His distrust of both Superman's League and Luthor's MLF leads him to form the Outsiders, feeling mankind should be able to make its own decisions and mistakes.
  • Ted Kord: One of Batman's three lieutenants, now wearing a Blue Beetle armored battle suit powered by the mystical scarab that gave Dan Garret his powers. Kord is killed in the nuclear blast (the Black Racer is seen behind him just beforehand).
  • Oliver Queen: Batman's lieutenant, he has married his long-time love Dinah Lance, and the two had a daughter. His appearance is very similar to that in The Dark Knight Returns. He persuades some of the young heroes willing to follow Superman to change their minds and support Batman's cause. He is killed in the nuclear blast; his skeleton can be seen directly to the left of Superman, cradling his wife's corpse.
  • Dinah Queen: Batman's lieutenant. The former Black Canary now sports short gray hair, dresses herself in a practical, manly fashion and wields a crossbow after adopting her husband's crime-fighting ways. She was among the fatalities in the Gulag battle after she was accidentally shot in the head by Trix. She dies in her husband's arms during the blast.
  • Black Canary: Olivia Queen, daughter of Oliver and Dinah. Her appearance resembles that her mother used to sport, except for a headgear with a red vision-enhancer lens on her left eye, a wrist-mounted crossbow and a thigh quiver.
  • J'onn J'onzz: The former Martian Manhunter. He is a shell of his former self, after trying to touch all humanity's mind at once. He now maintains a permanent non-corporeal human form and does not participate in any super heroics until Batman persuades him to help one last time. He is seen a few pages later in the Justice League headquarters, but it is unconfirmed if J'onn himself participated in the Gulag battle. 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.
  • Green Lantern: Jennie-Lynn Hayden; the former Jade, daughter of Alan Scott. Took up the mantle of Green Lantern after Kyle Rayner. She has all the powers of a Green Lantern but does not require a power ring. She saved many metahumans from the Gulag bombing with a light shield.
  • Obsidian: Todd Rice, son of Alan Scott and brother to Jennie-Lynn. He manipulates shadows and darkness. His appearance resembles that of the pulp mystery man The Shadow.
  • Kid Flash: Iris West, daughter of Wally. 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: Chain Lightning due to Hypertime.
  • Tula: A seafaring malcontent. Daughter of Garth and the late Debbie Perkins. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
  • Fate: The wizard Nabu is now able to channel his consciousness through the Helmet, cloak and amulet without the need for a host body. His primary role in the Gulag battle is as a teleporter.
  • Nightstar: Mar´i Grayson, daughter of Red Robin and the deceased Starfire. Having inherited her mother's powers, decides not to join her father in the Justice League instead choosing to be an Outsider. Effectively Batman's adoptive granddaughter, she becomes very close to his natural son Ibn al Xu'ffasch.
  • 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.
  • The Creeper: Though he has aged, he is still the insane screwball he was when he was young, apparently quitting to his Jack Ryder personality for good. In the novelization he resembles Alice Cooper, switches sides several times during the Gulag battle, and dies in the nuclear blast.
  • Menagerie: The former Beast Boy, Garfield Logan. His power is now limited to imaginary, mythical and fearsome creatures, but leaving him unable to recover his past human form.
  • Lightning: Daughter of the late Black Lightning and sister of Thunder, resembling a golden, female version of the genie owned by her brother.
  • Wildcat: A man-panther "with the spirit of the first Wildcat". Later on, DC's main continuity introduced a character resembling this incarnation named Tom Bronson, son of Ted Grant.
  • Steel: After Superman went into seclusion, John Henry Irons switched his devotion to Batman. He now wears armor with Batman´s logo and motifs and wields an iron bat-shaped battle axe.
  • Mr. Scarlet: A carefree 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.
  • Spy Smasher: An independent "combat-equipped, post-Cold War operative with somewhat of a nomadic status".
  • Phantom Lady: Now literally the phantom of Sandra Knight, resembling Bettie Page in the novelization.
  • Zatara: The teenage son of the late Zatanna and John Constantine, grandson of Giovanni Zatara. Besides being a magician, he inherited his father's ability to see the dead.
  • Darkstar: Son of Donna Troy and Terry Long, who has taken his mother's place as Earth's Darkstar.
  • Huntress: An African superheroine based on the Golden Age Huntress Paula Brooks.
  • Red Hood: Lian Harper, daughter of Red Arrow and the mercenary Cheshire.
  • Ace: An alien Bat-Hound, the giant winged steed of the Fourth World Batwoman.
  • Batwoman: A Batman admirer from the Fourth World and member of The Batmen Of Many Nations
  • Black Mongul: Possibly an offspring of Vandal Savage and member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Mongolia.
  • Condor: Last inheritor of Black Condor's mantle, now apparently member of The Batmen Of Many Nations.
  • Cossack: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Russia.
  • Dragon: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of China.
  • Samurai: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Japan.

Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front[edit]

  • Lex Luthor: The MLF's leader. He ends up 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. The now-adult Billy Batson is physically indistinguishable from his Captain Marvel form; Luthor's compatriots believe that it is Captain Marvel who attends Luthor's needs. 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 immortal caveman. 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. Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #22 shows her at Batman's funeral 20 years later, turned away crying.
  • 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 Spades: Joseph Carny, leader of the Royal Flush Gang and the MLF's newest member. An immortal like Savage.
  • 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[edit]

Magog and his followers are violent vigilantes prone to dealing out "justice" in the form of death to anyone who commits a crime. Apart from Magog and Alloy, they are the legacy Charleton Comics characters purchased by DC, who served as the inspiration for the main characters in Watchmen.

  • Magog: Ironically referred to as the new 'Man of Tomorrow'. He and Alloy were the only survivors of the Battalion, and at least partially responsible for the destruction of Kansas, for which Magog later seeks forgiveness. He is seen carrying injured heroes to Jade's protective shields. At the end of the novel, 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. According to Alex Ross, Magog is named after a biblical character, represents the golden calf, the scar rounding his right blind eye is also symbolical, but most important; Magog represents "everything we (Ross and Waid) hate in modern superhero design", being based on Marvel Comics' Cable, and his creator Rob Liefeld.
  • Alloy: The combined form of the Metal Men and member of Magog's Justice Battalion. Along with Magog, he is the only survivor of the Kansas disaster. He later joins the Justice League. He is melted by the U.N. nuclear strike.
  • Captain Atom: Member of Magog's Justice Battalion. His detonation at the hands of Parasite and the following irradiation of Kansas caused Superman's return to action.
  • Judomaster: Member of Magog's Justice Battalion. She is killed with the other members when Captain Atom exploded.
  • Nightshade: Member of Magog's Justice Battalion. She is killed when Captain Atom exploded.
  • Peacemaker: Member of Magog's Justice Battalion, his armor is reminiscent of that worn by Boba Fett. Killed when Captain Atom detonates.
  • Thunderbolt: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion, killed when Captain Atom exploded. This version of Peter Cannon's costume is an homage to the Lev Gleason's Daredevil from the Golden Age of comics. Alex Ross admitted that he chose the design "just as an excuse to draw it".

Characters with heroic legacies[edit]

Some of the metahumans and human warriors involved are inheritors in one way or another from passed heroes. Not everybody amongst this new generation is willing to uphold the legacy resting on their shoulders.

  • Manotaur: A minotaur-like metahuman with a Rannian armor and set of weapons. He survives the Gulag battle after being shielded from the nuclear blast by Jade. In the novelization he becomes a teacher at Paradise Island, a fitting fate for "one whose ancestors bedeviled the Amazons long ago."
  • Stars: An African-American kid; possibly related to Stripes, wearing a pilot jacket, aviator glasses, American flag bandana, and a T-shirt with an inverted American flag, he owned the cosmic rod in conjunction with the cosmic converter belt. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Stripes: A man equipped with various military accoutrements such as automatic weaponry, knives and Kevlar padding. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Mr. Terrific: The successor of Terry Sloane's legacy wielding oversized guns, a force field generator, shoulder pads and other military accoutrements. He still sported the "Fair Play" logo, but has lost sight of its true and original meanings. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Shining Knight: A silver, winged armor clad hero from the future escorted by his fully robotic "Dragonknight", both died in the nuclear blast. He was transplanted to the past, in contrast to the original Sir Justin and his flying steed "Winged Victory", who were heralds from the medieval past to the present.
  • Vigilante: A cyber-cowboy wearing Greg Sanders' "Prairie Troubadour" outifit and a machine gun arm. Arrested by the League for wreaking havoc, died in the nuclear blast.
  • King Crimson: A gigantic, red demon with the black and yellow bullet wound symbol on its chest, died in the nuclear blast.
  • Blue Devil: A big winged indigo-skinned demon from Hell visually inspired by Chernabog, the demon from the final segment of Fantasia. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Demon Damsel: A winged young she-devil and would-be Legionnaire, died in the nuclear blast.

Rogue characters[edit]

Listed below are the major, supporting, or otherwise notable characters.

  • 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 "split the Atom" when he makes contact with Captain Atom, causing a super-nuclear explosion that destroys Kansas.
  • 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.
  • Joker's Daughter: A riot girl and one of the many followers of the Joker's style. She has no relation to the other four Harlequins, Duela Dent, or Harley Quinn. She was seen fighting alongside the robot NIL-8 and Mr. Terrific and ended as one of the survivors of the Gulag Battle after being teleported away by Fate. Later on she lived on Paradise Island with most of the other survivors. Modeled after Scary Godmother artist/writer Jill Thompson.
  • NIL-8: A superpowered Killbot with oversized guns resembling Metallo seen fighting alongside Joker's Daughter and Mr. Terrific. His name is a homophone for "annihilate". Dismantled by Superman.
  • Tusk: A Japanese purple elephant-like Mecha. Dismantled by Robotman III in the final battle.
  • Trix: Now a morphing biomechanism and vigilante, she is among the many imprisoned in the Gulag. During the ensuing breakout accidentally shoots Dinah Queen. She is saved from the U.N. nuclear bombing by Magog and Jade, becoming later a reformed resident and student at Paradise Island. At some point in the future, she removed her biomechanic armor. According to Alex Ross, her appearance is modeled after the design aesthetic of H.R. Giger.
  • Catwoman: The armored metahuman successor to Selina Kyle.
  • The Americommando: Leader of the Minutemen. A far right-wing militia man wearing an armor reminiscent of Judge Dredd´s with the shredded remains of Mr. America's magic carpet as a cape. His design was intended as example of "overblown modern superhero design aesthetics". Barry Crain provided the artwork.
  • The Minutemen: A group of savage, jingoistic patriots who started killing the huddled masses of immigrants near the Statue of Liberty, all of them wearing American icons for masks such as the Mount Rushmore's heads. The Americommando and his Minutemen were controlled by the mysterious "Brain Trust", all of them were captured by the Justice League.
  • 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 him the first fatality of the riot by breaking his back. He was 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 music group Laibach.
  • Germ-Man: A Nazi-esque biological warfare expert, associate of Von Bach, captured by the Justice League.
  • Pinwheel: A gigantic sadomasochistic metahuman clad entirely in biker's leather fashion, long riding boots, a biker cap and a silver helmet. Associate of Von Bach, captured by the Justice League.
  • Swastika: An American militia man and anarchist. Suffered a major throat wound caused by Cossack during the Gulag battle, survived the nuclear blast after he is saved by Magog and Jade. He is last seen on Paradise Island being disciplined by Magog.
  • Insect Queen: A literally human-size bee-like insect with human female head. She was amongst the various inmates at the Gulag. Her fate is unknown.
  • Tokyo Rose: A Japanese martial arts assassin. She survives the nuclear blast when she is saved by Magog and Jade, ending up wheelchair-bound after battling Red Robin at the Gulag.
  • Shiva the Destroyer: A blue-skinned, four-armed Indian metahuman resembling the Hindu god of the same name. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Cathedral: A British metahuman wearing armor styled after a gothic church. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Stealth: A gold-armored female metahuman who can fly at great speed and cloak her presence. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Buddha: An enormous sumo-themed metahuman wearing a cracked Budai mask. Died in the nuclear blast.
  • Kabuki Kommando: The Fourth World's greatest champion at the time. Captured by the Justice League and imprisoned at the Gulag, subsequently killed in the nuclear bombing. According to Alex Ross, he intended the character as a tribute to the work of Jack Kirby, "if Kirby had ever got into a Japanese period".

Other characters[edit]

  • Wesley Dodds: The former Mystery Man known as the Sandman is plagued with visions of the impending apocalyptic battle between the various factions of metahumans and the human heroes. On his deathbed, he relates his visions interpreted through the passages from the Book of Revelations to Norman.
  • King Orin: Arthur Curry has given up the mantle of Aquaman and dedicated himself fully to his role as monarch of Atlantis. His queen is 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.
  • Boston Brand: He appears as a skeleton wearing his tattered old uniform. He is never identified as "Deadman", and simply introduces himself as Boston. He explains to Norman that none of the Quintessence will get involved because they fear making the situation, using Zeus' intervention with Troy as an example.
  • The Quintessence are Ganthet, Highfather, The Phantom Stranger, Shazam and Zeus. Powerful enough that just one can stop the impending apocalypse immediately, but fearing their interference will cause a bigger disaster, they decide to do nothing.
  • 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.

Appearances in mainstream continuity[edit]

The Kingdom[edit]

Main article: The Kingdom (comics)

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.[7][page needed]

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[edit]

The Kingdom Come Superman on the cover of Justice Society of America #10. Art by Alex Ross.

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 benevolent, 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. If he remains long enough, the planet will not be able to survive without him. The JSA remove Gog's head, and Superman-22 and Starman take it to the Source Wall. Starman sends Superman back to Earth-22 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, with additional scenes depicting Superman's life and legacy for the next 1000 years.

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.[8]

Justice League: Generation Lost[edit]

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.

Superman/Batman[edit]

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. 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 quantum energy, 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 from coming true.

In a follow-up to this story, Captain Atom: Armageddon, the titular Captain Atom finds himself in the WildStorm universe and in another homage to Kingdom Come, his appearance mysteriously changes to that of his Earth-22 counterpart.

Collected editions[edit]

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.

The novelization was written by Elliot S. Maggin. It 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.

Spin-offs[edit]

Audio play[edit]

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[edit]

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."[9] 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.

Trading cards[edit]

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.

Action figures[edit]

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.


References[edit]

  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ a b Kingdom Come #1 (May 1996)
  3. ^ Kingdom Come #2 (June 1996)
  4. ^ Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
  5. ^ a b Kingdom Come #4 (August 1996)
  6. ^ Dundy, Elaine (2004). Elvis and Gladys. University Press of Mississippi. p. 69-70
  7. ^ Kidd, Chip; Spear, Geoff; Ross, Alex (2005). Mythology: the DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-375-71462-7. 
  8. ^ Justice Society of America: Kingdom Come Special - Superman (January 2009). p. 25.
  9. ^ "Harbor Press calls an end to Comicology’s coverage of Kingdom Come". Sequential Tart. Retrieved January 12, 2008.