Comic Relief: ‘Kingdom Come’

The pandemic left a pretty large gap for a lot of us in terms of hobbies and human connection. We’ve all found our own ways to cope and try to fill those holes – weekly Zoom calls, virtual watch parties, annual online gaming sessions – but one of my new favorite traditions (that actually only started at the beginning of the year) is a sort of book club between myself, Jack Stevens, Carl Randers where we pick a comic to read and discuss approximately every couple weeks or so. We’ve read through a variety of comics so far this year and have enjoyed discussing our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and considerations from three different perspectives:

  • Randers: Has read comics most of his life and still keeps up with weekly releases – brings the knowledgeable perspective as the veteran reader in the group.
  • Jack: Is the newbie who is just starting to dip his toes into comics, but has kept pretty current with other media based on comics, and brings a fresh perspective.
  • Nick: I play the role of the casual reader, having dipped in and out of reading comics throughout different periods in my life.

So here I am to introduce Comic Relief, the not-so-weekly segment where we discuss the most recent comic we’ve read. This time we picked DC Comic’s 1996 four-issue mini-series, Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and illustrated by Alex Ross. I won’t go too much into the story, since I assume that if you continue from here you either A) already read the story, or B) don’t care. Anyway, it’s a story set in a future where there are LOTS of new superhumans, many of whom are left unchecked by the ‘old school’ heroes and are causing a lot of destruction and chaos, and the world is on the brink of destruction from such a massive clash of powers. With that out of the way, let’s get into the conversation which (of course) has been edited down a little bit from the original discussion for clarity and brevity.

Kingdom Come‘ – Mark Waid, Alex Ross

Randers: At its core, Kingdom Come shows you each of the major DC players and what role they serve— Superman is THE Man. Batman is his balance. Wonder Woman is the warrior. It’s a very basic Justice League story framed around a post-apocalypse.

Jack: [Kingdom Come was] Perhaps my least favorite one yet? Not bad by any means, but never felt super compelled to keep going. The ending was great, I will say that. I found the political aspects of super hero-dom mostly uninteresting. In this case. Again, I enjoyed it. I’m just saying it was the least engaging so far.

Nick: Oh wow. I felt 100% the opposite. I remembered it as soon as I started and I love it so much. It and Earth X from Marvel are a couple of my favorite superhero comics I’ve read. They’re very similar concepts so I guess I’m just a sucker for “global fallout of superhumans” stories. I also thought it presented most of the main characters in an accessible way. And I think it’s funny how EVERY major character has a superhero backstory. I also like the art a lot. It’s very pretty and original.

Randers: Alex Ross is always so good… it’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

Jack: I do like the concept of ethic gaps/battles between superhero generations, but they didn’t play into that a ton.

Randers: I think at 4 issues it felt kinda rushed. To Jack’s point, it presents ideas and then moves on. There’s no real exploration. And to Nick’s point, it’s very similar to Earth X in that it similarly poses, if everyone has super powers, what makes someone a super HERO. I don’t think it really answers the question beyond, “Superman!”

Nick: It is pretty surface level, which I guess plays into why it’s so accessible. We only really need to know about the big 3, Shazam, and a couple others and nobody else is fleshed out.

Randers: I think that’s what I appreciate about it as well and what I think Mark Waid nailed so… efficiently.

Jack: So far, I think I prefer stories tied more to individuals… It’s fun, I’m learning what kind of comic fan I am.

Thaaaat’s all folks! The next one will be a little shorter since it won’t require as much exposition at the top, but thanks for powering through it!

We try to pick comics that are easily accessible (both to get ahold of and to understand) so anything we read is available through ComiXology (which is owned by Amazon, just FYI), both Marvel and DC have their own digital comic sources, or you can support your local comic shop by picking up a hardcopy (I highly recommend Destiny City Comics in Tacoma, WA – they even ship anywhere in the world) so feel free to follow along and chime in with your thoughts, feelings, concerns, or considerations in the comments!

Next time on Comic Relief, we will be reading:

Teen Titans, Vol 1: Damian Knows Best, written by Benjamin Percy and illustrated by Jonboy Meyers, Diogenes Neves, and Khoi Pham

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