Monday, December 19, 2016

Kingdom Come: 20 years after this great comic book epic

Kingdom Come: 20 years after this great comic book epic
by rick olivares

It has been 20 years since the publication of “Kingdom Come”, that Twilight of the Gods tale that encompasses the entire DC Comics Universe that was both a critical (it won five Eisner and Harvey Awards) and commercial success. It is essentially a clash between the older generation of heroes led by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and a more violent new generation that results in a great tragedy.

The four-issue mini-series conceptualized and painted in gauche by Alex Ross and written by Mark Waid, ages pretty well. It’s a wonder to behold even after all these years and I still come away muttering, “Bloody genius!” And it is.

“Kingdom Come” is one of those works where everything just fell into place. The timing of its original publication in 1996 brought back great story telling from the all flash and not much substance of the early Image Comics that dominated comics during the early 1990s. It won a slew of awards and has since been regarded as one of the greatest comic book stories ever told. It makes every best-comics list and is always in stock in every comic book specialty or garden-variety book store worth its salt.

If you are the completist sort, then the “Kingdom Come 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” is a must have more so since the Absolute Edition (first to third editions) are out of print. This tome, at 324-pages and with a dimension of 7.4 x 11.2 inches, is not as big as the Absolute Edition that is 340-pages long and measures 8.7 x 15.4 inches, but it gives the reader a really good grasp of the terrific painted art by Ross that the latter version failed to accomplish.

Since the publication of the Absolute Edition and the subsequent trade paperbacks in 1996 and 1997, each one has contained it contained 12 addition pages with extra art and notes by the creators. And that’s a huge treat when you get this. Together, they all make for a great reading experience. And that’s the cool thing about these collected editions as they are like Director’s Cut Blu-Rays or DVDs.

The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition’s highlight are the proper groupings of Ross’ art that contains more unpublished work and sketches with more background information. There’s also a list of how Kingdom Come impacted the mainstream DC Universe and lists every book that borrows or pays homage to this story. From the pages of the Flash, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, Starman, and Action Comics, Kingdom Come’s influence has been felt. And speaking of influence, there’s this sequel of sorts – the 18-issue story arc titled, “Thy Kingdom Come” that ran from Justice Society of America #9-22 (Volume 3) including an annual and three-one shots.

Now, my one gripe about the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is that if DC was willing to re-print Ross’ pages from “World’s Funnest” for this edition, then they should have added his work from “Thy Kingdom Come” that merges what was previously only an Elseworlds story with mainstream DC Universe continuity.

The Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special and the last few painted pages of Justice Society of America #22 make for the perfect epilogue to the whole Kingdom Come saga. You have to read it to believe it. And treasure it. I kid you not.

Yet even without all that, the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is something you will enjoy. It’s a great superhero epic and if you’re into comics and pop culture, this makes for a great Christmas gift.

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