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Kingdom ComeThis story comes from DC Comics' forward thinking department, calling a retired (and grey haired) Superman and friends back into service to battle with the new generation of superheroes. Why? Because the stiff old super-codgers don't like the way the new heroes have abandoned the moral high ground, where no civilian should be hurt and even super-villains deserve a chance at rehabilitation. Instead, the new breed is too busy infighting in busy urban areas to care about how many buildings are flattened or people squashed.
To string a short story long, a number of predictable devices are used to progress the plot. Cheesiest of all of these is the weighty inclusion of an ethereal preacher, who is present throughout all the action to pass judgement on the heroes, build tension through apocalyptic dreams and act as a rather handy narrator.
There's a lot of assumed knowledge about DC's characters - this is a superhero comic created for anoraks, by anoraks - which we found frankly unnecessary. This could easily have been a far more enjoyable and accessible story if Superman hadn't had to go through the rigmarole of attempting to recruit help from practically every single character ever to grace the pages of a DC comic. Frankly, we couldn't give a damn whether Orion of Jack Kirby's New Gods was likely to help Superman or not.
There's no denying that Alex Ross' artwork is impressive but there's something of the magic missing that was present in Marvels - a similar work for the other big superhero comic company, that dealt with origins rather than futures. The heroes in Marvels seemed larger, more powerful and ultimately awesome. Perhaps they were just less prone to whingeing.
This must have been a large and expensive project, and Mark Waid puts grand words into these amazingly realised superheroes' mouths. But it takes itself seriously to the point of pompousness and there's no fun to be had. The anoraks will absolutely love it. Unless you have an encyclopaedic superhero knowledge that you love to flex, this will ultimately disappoint.
Titan Books (UK)
DC Comics (US)
Originally published as
Kingdom Come 1-4