Written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
Art by Alex Ross
Available now from Islington Libraries
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Everyone loves a good Ragnarök. And in the mid-nineties Kingdom Come was the place to go for anyone wanting to get their apocalyptic superhero kicks. Taking place in a universe where all the first generation superheroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman et al have grown old and increasingly irrelevant - superseded by a younger violent generation of heroes who have none of those old moral qualms and a much more brash and over-the-top attitude to dispensing with bad guys (spot the subtext) Kingdom Come is equal-parts lamination for the gods of times past and triumphant hallelujah for the power they still hold. Owing quite a debt of gratitude to Alan Moore's Twilight of the Superheroes pitch (which you can read here) and fortified with the same prevalent gloom as The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen (which gets a few sly nods and winks): it nonetheless manages to dropkick the reader with a succession of thrilling moments all building to an epic end-of-the-world climax. With expertly written dialogue that's always to the point (""Man of tomorrow", my ass. Try "Man of the nineteen-fifties!"") and - this should go without saying by now - magnificent painted artwork from Alex Ross: this is a comic that cackles with all sorts of intense brilliance. It's pompous - yeah - but it works: and it's the right tone for this kind of downcast and moody colossal undertaking and (thankfully) it never gets "grim+gritty": so it's still something that the kids can enjoy.
One of the only possible down-sides are the many, many references to seemingly every other DC character in existence (as with all these types of books - you may need to check out wikipedia at several points): this may make it seem that you need to be a DC aficionado to be able to make sense of the story - but don't worry: as long as you're good with your superhero basics (ie you know the difference between your Dark Knights and Man of Steels): then you'll be ok.
Also - have to say: that this may be one of the best Superman stories (along with Red Son and All Star Superman) ever written (he's always at his best when he's facing nebulous worldwide problems rather than just beating up bad guys). So there's that to recommend it too.
Links: The Hurting Article: I've Run Out of Cute Titles / Pocket Change / Iconography / What We Talk About When We Talk About Kingdom Come, World's of Westfield Interview with Alex Ross, Comic Book Resources Interview with Alex Ross, Comic Book Resources Review, Wired Review, Ninth Art Review, The M0vie Blog Review, Hooded Utilitarian Article: A Piercing Glimpse of Pants.
Further reading: Marvels, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Superman: Red Son, Final Crisis, DC: The New Frontier, Irredeemable, Superman: Birthright, Wolverine: Old Man Logan, The World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Civil War, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Back, Superman: All Star Superman, Watchmen, Justice.
All comments welcome.