TITLE: Kingdom Come.
WRITER(S): Mark Waid.
Artist(S): Alex Ross.
Colourist(s): Alex Ross.
Letterer: Alex Ross & Todd Klein.
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS.
RELEASE DATE: May 7th, 2019 (first published August 1996).
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★.
If there is one thing that heroes are for, it is to inspire the people and the upcoming generations by being the voice of reason, truth, and justice. Not only do they tend to speak the maxims of life that humans should abide by, they also display concrete actions that present unquestionable proof of their moral and ethical values as beings who are the living embodiment of Good. Their exemplary behaviour becomes a norm that is difficult to ignore, a psychological pressure on the conscious of individuals to strive to be their best, and one that is even more difficult to ignore when these heroes possess abilities that places them on the same pedestal as Gods. How else are they to be perceived if not Gods of a reality in which nothing seems impossible? But what happens if these heroes are not there to inspire, to guide, and to judge? Winner of multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards, legendary writer Mark Waid and superstar painter Alex Ross join forces to delivers the quintessential classic masterpiece known as Kingdom Come.
What is Kingdom Come about? This Elseworlds story presents a future where the legendary heroes of the DC Universe, from Aquaman to Superman, have retired from their days of heroism when mankind has grown accustomed to the killing ways of superhero Magog. This lack of reluctance towards the act of taking the life of those pursuing criminal behaviours made way to a new generation of superpowered metahumans who have completely lost their moral compass. Unable to distinguish right from wrong, their recklessness leads to violent confrontations while mortals cower in fear as they abandon their freedom to those capable of stripping them of life in the blink of an eye. By following an omniscient narrator, a pastor named Norman McCay, and his spiritual guide the Spectre, the story exposes a terrible tragedy that will surge the rebirth of the Justice League led by Superman himself but the world is not ready for the reform that he will lead them into as a conflict in ideologies will bring the world to the brink of apocalypse.
“They have left humanity to its own fate.”
– Mark Waid
With the narrator serving as a human vessel for the reader through a tale of judgment and redemption, the story quickly takes the form of a legendary prophecy imbued in a theological and political exploration of humanity. Clearly distinguishing superpowered beings from mortal creatures and establishing the distinctive hierarchical differences between one and the other, the story is an in-depth analysis of power and morality, as well as their overlapping necessities that allow a society to strive towards peace, success, and progress. The stark contrast between the Old and New Guardians also accentuates the generational conflict in terms of faith, belief, and hope. The absence of the latter is at the core of the narrative and paves the way towards the clash of ideologies that fuels the two camps of vigilantes in this story. This is where this graphic novel obtains its absolute relevance in its quest to deliver a cautionary tale that seeks to inspire hope regarding the future of mankind.
In a world where the mightiest of heroes are unable to see the consequences of their actions, where they do not take any form of responsibility to the decisions they make, it becomes trivial to ponder the nature of their actions and to distinguish good from evil. This is where the freedom of choice and the judgment of the Other are but a luxury accessible to those with power. And power is something that painter Alex Ross phenomenally illustrates in his characters with what might be one of the greatest displays of artistic talent in the comic book industry. With his unique and stylish character designs, he conveys incredible and godly features to every single character while also capturing powerful emotions with a single stroke of a brush. The epic scale he perfectly attributes to this four-issue miniseries couldn’t have been more suitable to this twilight of Gods that relentlessly takes your breath away from panel to panel.
Kingdom Come is an indisputable and unprecedented masterpiece exquisitely portraying a devastating future where the finalities of war and peace are brought upon humanity through questionable means.