Friday, July 30, 2010

Kingdom Come

There were voices and thunderings and lightnings and an earthquake.

And there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. There fell a great star from heaven, burning as if it were a lamp and I beheld and heard an angel saying with a loud voice:

"Woe, woe, WOE to the inhabiters of earth."

This is a quote from Revelations which opened the comic book Kingdom Come, by Alex Ross and Mark Waid.

The blend of biblical prose with superheroic imagery made for quite an interesting result.

Ross, the illustrator, wanted to pay tribute to his father's profession, a pastor, while drilling home the end of the world sense.

Armageddon. The reckoning.

It is fantastic. The star that fell to earth, like a lamp? That's Green Lantern, man.

Voices... Thunder? That's Captain Marvel. Shazam!

Seven angels who stood before God? The seven who established the Justice League.

It all fits, somehow.

"God said the meek will one day inherit the earth. But God never accounted for the mighty," wrote Waid.

The mighty are the superheroes. The whole comic book is peppered with biblical quotes. Or biblical-sounding.

"They chose the man who would kill over the man who wouldn't. And now they're dead..."

Magog said that to Superman, in one of the most poignant scenes of Kingdom Come.

Superman facing his fear of the future. Magog sharing his guilt.

I have read this comic book series for more than a hundred times. It holds pride of place on my bookshelf, along with The Sandman comics, Sin City, Fables, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Metabarons and Lucifer. One of the best ever done by one of the great masters - Ross.

The resonance he creates is deeper than just an apcalyptic battle between superheroes.

Some people prefer Marvel comics for their more realistic portrayals of characters. In DC, we deal with Gods and their dilemmas. I find myself attracted to the moral questions of these absolute characters.

When you are so powerful, what do you do with your abilities? You can end worlds, or change it. And as Orion said, "You'd be surprised how one can lead to the other."

Great planning. Immaculate execution. A bit thin and shallow at times, but it is one of the best. Definitely.