The Kingdom (comics)
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|Publication date||December 1998|
|Artist(s)||Ariel Olivetti and Mike Zeck|
|The Kingdom||ISBN 1-56389-567-6|
"The Kingdom" is a story arc that ran through a two-issue, self-titled comic book limited series and multiple one-shot comics published by DC Comics in 1999, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Ariel Olivetti/Mike Zeck. This is both a sequel and, in some ways, a prequel to Kingdom Come, also by Mark Waid. Both books form an Elseworlds saga, meaning they are abstracted from official DC Comics continuity. The storyline extended into one-shot books entitled New Year's Evil: Gog, The Kingdom: Kid Flash, The Kingdom: Nightstar, The Kingdom: Offspring, The Kingdom: Planet Krypton and The Kingdom: Son of the Bat. The entire storyline was later collected into a trade paperback.
The Kingdom does not use the same visual style created by Alex Ross, which was used in the four-issue Kingdom Come series. The storyline in The Kingdom is a direct continuation and extension of the original storyline fleshing out areas of the future that were not explored in the original four-part miniseries. While Kingdom Come can easily exist as a stand-alone story, The Kingdom is not a complete storyline in and of itself and exists only as a continuation of the previous storyline.
20 years after the events of Kingdom Come, a survivor of the Kansas disaster is granted power by four members of the Quintessence (Shazam, Ganthet, Zeus, and Izaya Highfather), who dub him Gog. The power drives him mad, and he takes out his anger on Superman, killing him and carving his "S" shield on the ground. He then travels a day backward in time and kills him again...and again. A shadowed figure vaguely resembling the Phantom Stranger, the fifth Quintessence member, opposes this action, as Gog now intends to accelerate the Kansas Holocaust, but the other four are prepared to let things unfold; Shazam hopes that Captain Marvel will no longer have to die, Ganthet hopes that Green Lantern will avert the catastrophe and become more renowned than Superman, Zeus hopes that the ancient gods may be 'worshiped' once more as Earth seeks something to believe in, and Highfather feels that a new war may fracture Earth in a manner similar to New Genesis and Apokolips.
As Gog travels closer to the modern DC Universe, the Linear Men panic when they see that their ordered index of time is unraveling; Superman is dead in the 21st century, yet alive in the 853rd, and their instruments register no error. When Rip Hunter, acting upon the orders of the shadowed figure, tries to stop Gog from killing Superman on the day his and Wonder Woman's child is born (that being a day when 'anything seemed possible'), Gog manages to steal the infant (named Jonathan), whom he plans to raise and name Magog (in issue #2, this was revealed to be a red herring. The child did not grow up to become Magog; instead, he became the shadowed figure, whose true identity is then revealed to be Hyperman, a Hypertime-traveling superhero wearing a costume based on the costumes of his parents and his godfather, Batman).
Although the other Linear Men object to the idea of the heroes of that time travelling back to defeat Gog, Rip Hunter recruits Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from the Kingdom Come era to stop Gog in 1998, the heroes concluding that, since innocent people will die if they do or do not take action, they will take the heroic option and go back despite the apparent loss of their own reality by having them interfere in their own pasts in such a manner. Four young heroes-Kid Flash, Offspring, Nightstar, and Ibn al Xu'ffasch-come together to try stopping Gog on their own, and are recruited by Rip Hunter to assist in his plan. When Jonathan is seemingly erased from existence soon after being rescued, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman team up with their 'past selves' and battle Gog to a final confrontation in a "Planet Krypton" restaurant outside of reality, where they use various weapons gathered from across Hypertime against Gog. During the fight, the future Wonder Woman reveals to the Superman of the present why Gog is after him, and Superman vows that the timeline of Kingdom Come will never happen in his universe, as he strikes back at Gog, finishing the battle once and for all. As the heroes return to their proper places in time, Hyperman reveals himself, assuring the future heroes that his infant self actually hid himself within the stream of Hypertime upon being rescued from Gog, and Rip Hunter explains the existence of timelines, so the Kingdom Come reality still exists, but it will no longer be the future of the DC Universe.
The Kingdom received some criticism at its time of publication: Originally intended to be simply a prequel bridging the gap between the mainstream DC Universe and that portrayed in Kingdom Come, Ross left the project and Mark Waid revised his intentions into what finally saw print. In a Wizard magazine special, Ross also criticized such things as having the birth of Superman and Wonder Woman's child be a major world affair (Ross thought they would keep such a thing secret to give their child a normal life) and the number of characters Ross had intended to have been killed in the first series that are alive here (such as Zatara, Hawkman, and Kid Flash).
The Kingdom was also criticized by some for its poor artwork, and lauded by others for the concept of Hypertime. Hypertime was an in-story metaphor for reader response and canonicity, variously described as a river and tributaries of continuity, a geometric construct, and in various other deliberately mutable ways.
The various comics have been collected in a single trade paperback: