Saturday, September 11, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 36

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Kingdom Come
by Alex Ross and Mark Waid

Yes, I'm still covering some comic books / graphic novels that have influenced me, with a focus on the writers.

Kingdom ComeKingdom Come was originally a four-issue limited series by DC Comics that came out in 1996, then was later released as a graphic novel. It was one of DC's Elseworlds books, which meant it was a story that did not take place within the general, accepted worlds and time lines of the regular DC super heroes universe.

The story of Kingdom Come takes place a few years in the future. The major super heroes all of us know, such as Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman, etc., have mostly retired or gone into hiding or just plain aren't around all that much. A new breed of heroes has mostly replaced them, heroes who are barely heroes, making it harder than ever to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Seeing the dangers brought about by these new super powers, a band of the more familiar heroes (again, Superman, etc.) try to step back into the fray and to calm down the youngsters. It doesn't go very well. A war among the super beings erupts. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor and some other bad guys are waiting in the wings to steal power for themselves. And Batman ... well, Batman is biding his time doing what he does best, lurking in the dark waiting for the right moment to make his own moves, even if he is now an old man.

I love this story for several reasons. One, the artwork is perhaps the best I've seen in a comic book, ever. Alex Ross was also the primary artist on this series, and he actually painted all the art in gouache, visually giving our heroes a classic artistic look, almost as if the art was painted by a classical painter.

Second, another reason I love this story is it's just a darn good tale, pitting the old crew of good guys against darker, more violent and younger super heroes. It's a clash of the ages, of styles, of viewpoints, of 50s America against 90s America.

Third, and most importantly, I love Kingdom Come because it plays with readers' expectations of the classic super heroes. As always, I don't want to give anything away, but this story deals with super heroes in a realistic emotional manner. How would Superman deal with all the violence upon our Earth? What would Batman be like as he grew old? Stuff like that. Also, there's the relationships between super heroes, and perceptions of these are questioned at times.

If you know all the old favorite DC heroes, but have gotten away from reading them, Kingdom Come might be a good place to pick back up again. But fair warning: Don't be surprised, because the DC universe portrayed here is not the one we all knew as kids.

Up next: I Am Legend

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, may have to look for this one. NEver read it.