Kingdom Come

(1996 mini-series)

cover to the second issue, featuring Wonder WomanElseworlds logoFour issues, all TPBs.

Mark Waid & Alex Ross, with Todd Klein.

 

The biggest Elseworlds of them all. So popular, some fans screamed for it to be mainstreamed. Many characters from it did find their way into the DCU, and when the multiverse returned, we discovered that Earth-22 keeps the Kingdom Come storyline alive in a post-52 continuity.

But boiled down, this completely painted production was one of those "all hail Superman" stories, as 60% of Elseworlds were. (The other 39.5% were "all hail Batman" stories.) Wonder Woman did play a role, but one has to scratch one's head over it. As I did over Superman's and Batman's and, well, everyone else's role in this story.

Things weren't helped (in catering to my tastes) by trying to inject a heavy hand of Biblical Revelations crapola into this, with the deification of Superman implied. But let's see how this story progresses, shall we?

First of all, instead of taking one concept and twisting it, then letting the story roll, this plot requires that we swallow many factors:

1) That after Joker massacres a bunch of folks in Metropolis—including Lois Lane—Superman essentially runs from life in a way that makes people think him a coward. He goes into decades-long mopes on a holographic Kent farm within his Fortress.

2) That Superman's friends wouldn't get him decent counseling during all this time, if only to bring him out of his funk if not to make him a superhero again.

3) That Superman is so very much the ultimate hero, that when he retires every other superhero on the planet gives up. Gives up their mission, gives up their careers, etc.

4) That all the superheroes have bred thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of super offspring in the generation following, and NONE OF THESE HEROES ever taught their brood anything about ethics, good and evil, fighting the good fight, or even just being plain good citizens of the world.

5) That the humans of the world allowed chaos to break out, chaos that took a generation to build.

That's five major points there, and though I could swallow one of 'em, I can't swallow all 5 at once. So the basic story logic doesn't work for me.

The framework of the story relies on my most unfavorite character of all, Spectre (all-powerful employee of a violent and angry ultimate but somehow limited god), who accompanies a geezer Christian preacher around who has been granted limited prophecy powers. It's a narrative device and doesn't really make all that much sense.

But anyway. Joker has accomplished said massacre and Superman goes into self-exile. On occasion Wonder Woman visits him but he doesn't want to listen to her and she doesn't insist or bring professional help. Not even Dr. Phil.

We'll discover that Diana is no longer princess/ambassador because the Amazons have determined that she hasn't brought peace to the world (did they miss some issues of her book in which she saved countless people and changed lives?) and have negated her heritage as well, though she seems to still have all her powers. She now wallks around in a loinclothed outfit because apparently thongs didn't display enough of her nether regions.

In the current world, Flash (Jay Garrick) merely protects his own city, Green Lantern is forever on guard for interstellar invasions but doesn't concern himself with domestic Earth situations, Hawkman is now some eco-guy protecting the Pacific Northwest, and Batman (firmly entrenched in his "superheroes are all bad, and only humans are good" phase) has created his own army of Batbots to stop all crime in Gotham. (But we see small crimes still taking place. How is that possible in such an atmosphere?)

It is implied that Wonder Woman has withdrawn to Paradise Island for all these years. It has only been recently that she has been exiled from there, without her royal title or her "heritage." Does this make sense? Oh well, she's not the star.

The thousands or tens of thousands of super-powered offspring of the heroes have no ethics and apparently no hobbies. Instead they wage constant war on each other and don't care how many innocent civilian bystanders are killed or maimed because of their actions.

At the point the story begins, Magog, who was the fella who seems to have bested Superman into taking his retirement, has a gang facing off against another gang. Magog pierces Capt. Atom's armor, and thus sets off a nuclear holocaust. This completely wipes out most of the wheat belt in America as well as any living beings there, and causes humans to ask themselves, "Should we be doing something about this problem? Or is there something good on TV tonight?"

It is only when Superman now departs his Fortress and gathers some heroes that the problem is truly addressed, all hail. Meanwhile, Batman has reiterated his "super superheroes are bad" liturgy, and joins Luthor, who has his own scheming council. The UN also schemes but on a much more minor scale.

a compendium of Wonder Woman costumes from Kingdom ComeSpectre declares that of all Superman's allies, Wondie bears the most watching. Must be because his boss doesn't like ladies much.

Diana proposes to Aquaman that they set up an underwater penal colony for the rotten supers. This shocks Superman, who is content with belting them and using his heat vision to broil them. He questions whether acting like a vigilante and judge—the bread and butter of a superhero's duties—is right. He calls it fascist while Diana tells him that they must declare war on these people who are causing so much death and destruction.

Naturally this means the two are falling for each other.

When Superman faces down Magog and Magog begs him to kill him for his crimes, Superman suddenly decides that there must indeed be a war. Batman allies with Luthor.

Superman & co. set up a gulag in which giant Superman holographs preach a holier-than-thou sermon to the inmates (who are allowed to run around unimpeded within) as a group. Of course this has zero effect except to make everyone inside angry. Anyone would know that, even Superman.

As riots break out in the gulag, Wonder Woman orders the more powerful allies to investigate and get things under control by whatever means possible. This upsets Superman, but Diana rightfully tells him that someone had to step up and do something. Superman still avoids the issue while reporting to the UN, and even lies about the worsening situation. Wonder Woman defers to him. (He is a man, after all.)

Batman and his group turn on Luthor, leaving just Luthor's chief pawn on the loose. That pawn is one grown-up Billy Batson, whom Luthor has spent years brainwashing.

Now Wonder Woman suits up for war, for the first time displaying the Screaming Chicken armor—an outfit that would hold her back more than assist, but makes a dazzling action figure for DC to sell—and the Sword of Hephaestus, which can "carve the electrons off an atom." Diana gives Superman a final (and literal) kiss-off, and takes the group with her for war.

Donna Troy was a graying, chubby hero in red tunic.at leftDonna Troy also popped up during the story.

Batman and his forces join the good-guy group in the gulag war, Superman and Capt. Marvel fight, and the UN sends three end-of-the-world missiles to drop on the gulag, which they hope will finish the entire super mess forever, but maybe not mess up what's left of the world. Yeah, right.

Now we get to the worst part. I saw Mark Waid at a convention soon after this came out, and he said he couldn't get a handle on Wonder Woman until the final volume. Here he has her say, "I'm here to force PEACE!"

Batman declares, "'Force peace.' The AMAZON TENET. 'Spread LOVE and UNDERSTANDING... But don't be afraid to BLOODY your KNUCKLES DOING it.'" From an earlier statement, we know that Superman believes the same thing.

Uh... What th—??????

How could anyone who has read more than three panels of a WW book get this goofy idea? But Mark said that this was indeed the correct premise of Wondie.

Sheesh.

And of course he once again has Diana acting through her anger and not common sense or wisdom or friendship or anything, well, girly like that.

The two (Batman and Wondie, if you recall) see the missiles coming and Batman says something silly about Diana can continue to overcompensate and cause the end of all things, or she can fight the planes. We see by her going after the planes that she recants her errant ways.

::cough::

As Superman rockets upward, determined to stop the missiles himself, Capt. Marvel outruns him and uses the Shazam lightning to set the missiles off high over the landscape. Most below are killed, but some protective devices have allowed enough (of the good guys) to live.

Superman storms to the UN but the geezer preacher talks him down. Superman then declares that his super-cohorts will no longer live as gods above the human race (??), but as part of the crowd and will have to earn humanity's trust. Diana removes her tiara. (??)

Later we see Diana welcomed back to Paradise Island as a teacher as they put golden laurel leaves on her head (??). Why did they welcome her back if she went all war-ballistic? I don't get it. She visits Superman in Kansas and gives him a set of Clark glasses (symbolizing his humanity, clearly seeing life, etc., get it?), gives him a kiss, and flies off.

Preacher guy gives his church some kind of sermon or something. The end.

This series spawned The Kingdom, a one-shot that I'm not going to cover because (yawn). The link takes you to Wiki.

 

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