Review – Kingdom Come
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Alex Ross
Letters: Todd Klein
Release Date: May – August 1996
When I was asked to write a review for Kingdom Come, I decided that I had to try and ignore its legacy as one of the greatest comics ever written and instead read through it once more and critique the book at face value. That said, 25 years after its initial release, Kingdom Come still cements its place in history as one of the greatest comic book stories ever committed to print.
The idea alone of this miniseries is a fascinating one. If superheroes were to ever reveal themselves in real life, it would inevitably change the world forever. Therefore, humanity’s future world look vastly different to how it would otherwise. Once these meta-humans start to appear and breed, with each generation becoming more and more powerful, where does it stop?
However, even with a great concept such as this, you still need the talent working on the book to deliver. Thankfully that is the case here.
Mark Waid was the perfect choice to pen this epic story, as he clearly understands these characters inside out. To even have a rough idea of what Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League would look and think like years down the line, you really need to know these characters as individuals. Fortunately, Mark Waid does.
As he weaves this grand and complex story, he keeps all of the characters true to their individually established personalities throughout. This really makes a difference to the reader, as at no point are you taken out of the engrossing story due to an out-of-character decision.
We are so used to seeing the Justice League at the top of their game, so to see these bitter, jaded versions of our favourite heroes living in a world that feels like it no longer needs them is captivating. To see the unwavering commitment of some heroes in contrast with those who feel that they no longer owe anything to Earth’s citizens is fascinating.
The whole “deconstruction of the superhero genre,” theme was most famously explored in Watchmen, however seeing it play out within the Justice League is utterly fascinating. Seeing these versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman is such a departure from how they are usually portrayed and yet it works, because Mark Waid has such a great understanding of these characters.
The idea of a younger generation superheroes that deal a much more brutal brand of justice than their predecessors has been depicted across the comic book medium both before and since Kingdom Come. However, Kingdom Come does it exceptionally well in a way that really allows the reader to deeply relate to these fictional God-like beings.
Alex Ross’ artwork in this book is possibly the best artwork ever seen in a comic book. Ross is notorious for his strikingly realistic paintings of superheroes, however his work in Kingdom Come is truly exceptional. Every panel on every page is utterly stunning and genuinely beggars belief at just how real these depictions of the Justice League are.
Whilst I am sure that Ross could have employed any art style to use in this book and it would have looked phenomenal, the choice to go with gouache is a remarkable one. The opaque, slightly muted look that it gives adds such depth to the already stunning pencils. This book is a prime example of why Alex Ross is considered an artistic genius by so many.
The colouring is also impeccable throughout. Even when there are complex aerial hand-to-hand battles unfolding, spread across multiple pages, your eyes are never lost anywhere on the page and the reader is always able to follow exactly what is going on. With how grand and intense several of the sequences in this book are, that is no easy feat.
Overall, I am so happy that I got to revisit Kingdom Come for review. I was reminded why this book has cemented itself as a modern classic of the genre and it really is a book that everyone should make a point of reading. Kingdom Come should be a required piece of literature whether you are a comic book fan or not, because it truly is a masterpiece.
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