[Annotator's Note: the page number in parentheses is the page number of the bound edition; I've retained the original numbering of the separate issues]
Cover: Mark Waid described this as being filled with the bad new "heroes" who have forgotten, or never knew, what real heroism is like.
Front Row: Thunder, Von Bach, Lightning, 666, Joker's Daughter II, Catwoman II, Spectre, Captain Atom.
Second Row: Germ-Man, Swastika, Stealth II, Nightstar, Cathedral, Phoebus, Stripes, Tokyo Rose, Magog, Trix.
Third Row: Blue Devil II, Shiva the Destroyer , Judomaster II, Nuculoid, Demon Damsel, Manotaur, Huntress III.
Last Row: Buddha, Mr. Terrific II, Tusk, Pinwheel, Stars, Black Mongul, Kabuki Kommando, and N-I-L-8.
Thunder is a new character; he is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero Johnny Thunder. The card set describes him as "a new Johnny Thunder with the mischievous spirit of the Thunderbolt." The Kingdom Come Revelations supplement notes that, contrary to many fan speculations, he is unrelated to Black Lightning.
Von Bach is a new character, described in the card set as "Yugoslavian would-be dictator." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
666 is a new character; the card set says this about him: "tattooed, self-mutilated man-machine of destruction." The Revelations supplement adds this:
The Spectre is a current DC hero; the card set describes him as "the wandering spirit of God's vengeance." We will learn more about him as the series progresses.
Captain Atom is a current DC hero; the card set describes him as "human nuclear reactor and symbol of the atomic age."
Germ-Man is a new character; the card set calls him a "master of biological warfare who spews poison gas."
Swastika is a new character; the card set describes him as a "American militiaman and anarchist." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Nightstar is a new character. We will learn more about her as the series progresses.
Cathedral is a new character; the card set describes him as the "holy terror of the underworld." The Revelations supplement adds this:
Tokyo Rose is a new character; the card set calls her a "Japanese martial arts assassin." The Revelations supplement says: "This would-be martial arts master of Japan whose nom de plume has World War II roots."
Magog is a new character. We will learn more about him as the series progresses.
Trix is a new character; the card set has this to say about her: "after `Matrix,' a morphing biomechanism." The Revelations supplement adds this:
Shiva the Destroyer is a new character; the card set describes him as a "four-armed defender of India, based on the Hindu god."
Judomaster II is based on the Charlton and DC hero Judomaster; the card set calls her the "female inheritor of the mantle."
Nuculoid is a new character; the card set describes him as a "pliable nuclear-powered hero." The Revelations supplement adds:
Manotaur is a new character; the card set describes him as a "classical Greek myth armed for the future."
Huntress III is a new character; the card set describes her as the "warrior queen of the African jungle."
Buddha is a new character; the card set calls him the "Sumo-sized scourge of China." The Revelations supplement describes him this way:
Tusk is a new character; the card set calls him a "elephant-shaped man-o-war." The Revelations supplement adds:
Stars is the Kingdom Come version of the GA DC hero the Star-Spangled Kid, who, with Stripesy, was in the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The card set calls him a "hip-hop, modern Star-Spangled Kid with cosmic rod and belt." The Revelations supplement says this:
Kabuki Kommando is a new character; the card set describes him as "the Fourth World's Japanese champion." Alex Ross said that he intended the name and character as a tribute to the work of Jack Kirby, "if Kirby had ever got into a Japanese period."
N-I-L-8 is a new character, described in the card set as "a sentient armory with an appetite for destruction."
Page 1 (11). Quotes from Revelation 8:5. Waid and Ross start us off with a reference to the final book of the Bible, in which the end of the world is vividly described--not a good omen, and not the last time we see implications of a bad ending for the world of Kingdom Come.
The following quotes and interpretations of the Biblical references are verbatim courtesy of Anthony:
"there were voices:"
"...and thunderings, and lightnings..." and "And there followed hail and fire mingled with blood:"
"... and an earthquake:"
Page 2 (12). Quotes from Revelation 8:7, 8:10.
Page 4 (14). This is our introduction to the narrator, Norman McCay, who is a new figure, introduced in Kingdom Come; he is to be our Everyman guide through this DC dystopia. Alex Ross on McCay: "Norman McCay is just simply what my dad looks like, a figure who might well have been around for every age of the superhero." Norman is the middle name of Alex Ross' father.
Norman McCay's name is also an homage to Winsor McCay, the great artist of the classic comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. The titular character, Little Nemo, dreamed himself into an art deco fantasy paradise every night; as we'll see, Norman McCay undergoes something of the opposite phenomenon.
The aged man McCay is talking to--"Wesley"--is, as we shall see, Wesley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman (note his mentioning that "the sands run out"), one of DC's earliest heroes. Wesley was driven by dreams, as shown in Sandman Mystery Theater, to fight crime, but his dreams have turned here into Biblically-themed nightmares. Or, just maybe, premonitions from God, or the Spectre...
As Wesley is getting out his old Sandman hat in panel 5, he looks, as Mark Coale points out, like the writer William S. Burroughs.
Wesley is quoting here from Revelation 10:3.
Jonathan Woodward points out the cracked Lexcorp Building over Norman's shoulder; it matches the damaged skyline of the city, and is another indication that the effect of all the superhumans on the society of Kingdom Come is a dire one.
Anthony, on Wesley's "seven thunders" quote:
Page 5 (15). Panel 2 is what the GA Sandman looked like in costume, for those of you who've never seen him. As Scott Casteel caught, but I somehow missed, Wesley is seeing the doctor and nurse as the Sandman, with the same red tone as the dream images.
The horned, winged figure landing on the rooftop in panel 5 is Demon Damsel, who can be seen on the cover of this issue (issue #1).
Wesley is quoting, in panel 1, from Revelation 11:3. Anthony says, regarding this:
Note the Hall of Justice, from the Superfriends tv cartoon, in the picture on the front page of the Daily Planet.
William Cavanaugh points out that the sparsely-attended, rainy funeral of a former superhero is a clear homage to Watchmen.
The Waid/Ross Annotations point out that panel 4 gives us our only glimpse of Ellen, Norman McCay's late wife.
Page 7 (17). The long-haired Korean man in panel 1 with the cigarette dangling from his mouth is Sung Koo, the former proprietor of Halley's Comics, a Chicago comic-book store; Alex Ross is from Chicago. The owner of the damaged car is, as Craig Kostelecky points out in his Wizard article on Kingdom Come, visually quite similar to Non, one of the villains from the film "Superman 2."
Joel Shin points out that, in panel 2, we can see the words "City College" written on the graffiti-sprayed building. This is Metropolis, but it may also be a tip of the hat to the City College of New York--perhaps the alma mater of Waid or Ross?
In panel 4 we get a nice homage by the authors to three comic book characters and their books: Alternate Egos, by John Law (aka the Golden Age hero The Tarantula); Behind the Mask, by Jessie Chambers (daughter of the Golden Age heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle, and a heroine in her own right in the pages of Mr. Waid's current book, The Flash); and Under the Hood, by Hollis Mason (aka the Golden Age Nite Owl from The Watchmen). As Scott Hollified (my inspiration for annotations) has pointed out, the original title of John Law's book was Alter Egos. But as Joel Shin points out, in James Robinson's The Golden Age miniseries, John Law's book was called Behind the Mask. The Waid/Ross Annotations acknowledge these discrepancies.
If this is all taking place twenty years in the future, then that poster of the alterni-pop singer Bjork (ex-frontwomen of the Sugarcubes) in panel 3 must be really, really old. Loki points out that the Bjork poster here is the same one that was used to promote her song "Violently Happy." Given the Image-like heroes we see here, that title is entirely appropriate.
Note also in panel 2 that you can just make out the "Who Watches The Watchmen?" graffiti, which is the quote of the Roman satirist Juvenal that was so thematically central to Alan Moore's Watchman series, and in some ways quite relevant to Kingdom Come.
Alex Tam points out that the statue of Lady Justice in panel 3 seems to have fallen into "Knight's Past," the store of Jack Knight (current hero of DC's Starman and son of the GA Starman); Alex notes that the symbol above the door to the store is quite similar to the symbol Jack Knight wears on his jacket, and that the store has a turret, which evokes images of the past and of knights.
Also in panel 2, as Bern Walker points out, is a set of kanji--a reference to the anime Tenchi Muyou. The phrase can be translated as "Heaven and Earth are useless," which is quite apropos to the themes of the story so far.
Mark Stephenson points out that the "Buy Me!" messages on the laptops might be a reference to John Carpenter's film "They Live."
The signed ball in the shop window, from the "Last-ever World Series" in 2002, symbolizes, as Donald MacPherson notes, that this future is much bleaker; few things are as synonymous with innocence and American pride as baseball.
Page 8 (18). Those figures on the billboard around Planet Krypton are: Batman, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Flash, Lobo, and Marvin. All are drawn exactly like Alex Toth's character designs from the early Superfriends cartoon, and are done in cartoon style, suggesting how this current generation sees the older, more traditional heroes. As Dave Van Domelen points out, putting Marvin (in some ways the epitome of harmless superheroic fun) next to Lobo (the epitome of the violent, amoral new breed of "hero") is a disturbing juxtaposition.
The rocket on the Planet Krypton sign is the Golden Age, pale-blue/silver rocket seen in Action Comics #1 delivering the infant Superman to Earth. The poster in panel 4 is a copy of the cover of Batman #1.
The smirking waiter is dressed like the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. As we see on the next page, even the waiter doesn't know who exactly he's supposed to be dressed like, and Hal Jordan was one of the best and noblest of the Silver Age's heroes. This is a further indication of the loss of hope in this future.
The Waid/Ross Annotations note that the other two waiters visible in panel 5 are dressed in the uniforms of Captain Marvel and the Silver Age Flash.
Page 9 (19). More of those costumed waiters, dressed like Captain Marvel, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Carrie Kelly Robin from Dark Knight Returns, and the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen (but in the costume of the Flash of the Legends of the Superheroes television show from the 1970s). The costumes, though, are just a little bit off--faux heroes inside Planet Krypton to match the faux heroes outside.
Planet Krypton is clearly meant to be a riff on Planet Hollywood; Jason Langlois also notes that Ron Perleman, one-time owner of the Marvel Entertainment Group, had at the time of Kingdom Come's writing "a deal with Planet Hollywood to develop and open a line of restaurants themed on Marvel Superhero characters."
That costumed mannequin in the vacuum tube looks like Batman--but the Adam West Batman of the 1960s television show, rather than a Batman that has ever appeared in any comics. Scott Rogers notes that the Batman costume appears here exactly as it does in the Planet Hollywood in Chicago.
Note the old DC logo--or, as Sean MacDonald says, Johnny DC's body--to the right of the Batarang.
Those two kids cavorting on the screen above the room are Sugar and Spike, two long-time DC child characters. Hanging from the ceiling are the GA Batplane and the rocket in which Superman, as a child, was rocketed to Earth--the rocket here is the dark blue, 1970s Earth-1 design. And on the near wall in the upper left are one of Batman's batarangs and Green Arrow's bow and boxing glove arrow.
The "Bea" asking for Booster Gold is Beatriz DaCosta, aka Fire, from the Giffen Justice League. It's typical of Booster Gold, a somewhat mercenary hero at his best, to own a place like the Planet Krypton, which seems to be a soulless merchandizing/selling-out of the Silver Age heroic tradition.
David A. Carr notes that all the lanterns in Planet Krypton are green. Ed Mathews points out that the salt shaker on the table at which the Carrie Kelly Robin is taking an order is a figure of either Doll Man or Superman. Dean Velasco points out that the "Green Lantern" here has his ring on his left hand--the Hal Jordan Green Lantern on whom he's modeled always wore the ring on the right hand. And Scott Casteel notes that the bowls/ashtrays used in Planet Krypton are replicas of Jay Garrick's Flash helmet.
The Waid/Ross Annotations point out that the 1950 camera Batarang is visible (next to the boxing glove arrow).
Page 10 (20). More cool/kitsch points to Messrs. Waid and Ross for including Turtle Olsen in panel 2. In the modern, post-Crisis, post-Zero Hour (Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour were two DC mini-series in which DC's complicated diegetical history was revised and streamlined, with much of their characters' pasts being eliminated) Superman series Jimmy Olsen was briefly a children's tv hero, "Turtle Boy," a la the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers; the adventures of "Turtle Boy" may be what is shown on-screen. Of course, I prefer to believe that Waid is hearkening back to Olsen's original, Silver Age incarnation as Turtle Olsen, first seen in Jimmy Olsen #43; as Scott Hollifield pointed out, this idea is reinforced by the on-screen Turtle Olsen menacing a bridge, which he originally did back in the 1960s.
The hotel in the background of panel 2 is the "Siegel," a reference to Superman creator Jerry Siegel.
As the Waid/Ross Annotations point out, we catch our first glimpse of Flash IV in panel 2; she is the red and yellow blur zooming by Norman McCay.
Tony Pi notes that the Chinese ideograms underneath Turtle Olsen in panel 2 read "done" or "finished;" The Waid/Ross Annotations indicate that the intended meaning was "finished." Chris Sypal adds that in Japanese the ideograms can be interpreted as either "completion" or "perfection."
Panel 3 has a sign with the name "Barta," a reference to the inker Hilary Barta. Thad Doria points out that, just as Barta is a friend of Alex Ross, so is Barry Crain, whose name is above the view screen of Turtle Olsen in Panel 3.
As Thomas Howard caught, there's a flyer for the alternative band XTC on the telephone pole in panel 3.
The Steve Darnall marquee is a reference to the former editor for Hero magazine who is now a freelance writer; The Ultimate Career Move is a band with which Darnall plays.
Norman McCay's quote here is from Matthew 5:5.
Page 11 (21). Fight Scene #1. This page introduces us to the new breed of superhumans; their fight here doesn't seem to have much purpose, and is quite destructive--but that's the whole point, of course. They are:
Stars, the new Star-Spangled Kid (the flying African-American with the glowing rod and the blue kerchief). The original SSK was a Golden Age hero who with his older sidekick Stripesy fought crime in the 1940s and was a part of the short-lived Justice Society of America imitators the Seven Soldiers of Victory. SSK later took Starman's cosmic rod, and still later used a "cosmic converter belt" and eventually was killed in action as Skyman. The new Star-Spangled Kid, you'll note, is using the cosmic rod and wearing the cosmic converter belt--and both his kerchief and armband are spangled with stars. Doug Limmer also points out that the Kingdom Come SSK has an upside down American flag on his shirt--more symbolism.
Manotaur--the minotaur figure with the gun. This is one of the new characters for Kingdom Come.
Nuculoid--the glowing blue figure wrestling with the big robot. Another character introduced here; Alex Ross' comment is "I made this one up when I was 11. Be kind."
Phoebus--the red-and-white costumed figure flying and leaving a flaming trail behind him.
The flying women with flowing black hair is Nightstar--the daughter of Nightwing (aka Robin, aka Red Robin, who we'll see in issue #2) and Starfire, from the Teen Titans. She seems to have received their approach to battle but none of their sense of responsibility.
The man with the gun, running next to Nuculoid, is Stripes, the sidekick to the new Star-Spangled Kid.
The flying, "thorned" woman shooting lightning at Manotaur is Lightning, another new character.
The figure in black body armor and white hair shooting at Phoebus is Trix, a new character made up for Kingdom Come.
The giant robot with the two long horns is Tusk. Tusk, like the other characters in this scene, can also be seen on the back cover. (Eric Harding points out that Tusk is visually very similar to Zugok-E from the anime' Mobile Suit Gundam)
The man getting out of the truck would seem to be, as Eric Fritzius notes, Reginald Denny, perhaps the most famous victim of the L.A. riots/revolt.
Page 12 (22). Thomas Howard points out that the Manotaur being shot through a window, beneath a sign reading "Golden," is a nice allusion to the Golden Calf; in Biblical terms, the Golden Calf is money, or, more explicitly, the golden calf made by Aaron when Moses was absent on Mount Sinai, in Exodus 23, and worshiped by the people.
Page 13 (23). The laughing man in panel 4 is 666, a new character made up for Kingdom Come. His name is of course a reference to the "number of the Beast" in the book of Revelation (13:18).
Page 14 (24). Note the poor woman in panel 1 who's just been shot in the eye. In any real world with violent superhumans, bystanders would constantly be getting injured in this way. Unfortunately, we're going to be seeing a lot of this sort of "collateral damage" in Kingdom Come.
The "Secret Asian Man" on the billboard in panel 1 is a riff on the Patrick McGoohan series "Secret Agent Man," the supposed prequel to "The Prisoner;" Lance Smith points out that "Secret Asian Man" was in turn a comic strip in The Comics Journal based on a Chicago comic book store owner. Thad Doria points out that "Secret Asian Man" is a `zine written by Sung Koo, who we saw back on page 10 (20); Alex Ross has done a few covers for this `zine.
Marc Singer wonders how the car that Manotaur is lifting in Panel 1--with the license plane 28IF--made it to America, as the last time it was seen was on the cover of the Beatles "Abbey Road" album. Kudos to Marc for catching this, and to Ross for putting it in there. (As has been pointed out, Ross also put that cab into Marvels)
Eric Fritzius points out that the man taking pictures in panel 2, just to the left of Phoebus' head, might well be an allusion to one of the main characters in Marvels, Alex Ross' first major project.
The Waid/Ross Annotations point out that Trix's biomechanical powers allow her to regenerate and fix the fatal head wound she is receiving in panel 1.
Page 15 (25). The big bulletin board the superhumans are looking at is operated by the Daily Planet, the main newspaper of Metropolis and the one at which Superman's secret identity, Clark Kent, worked. In this future they've apparently gone high-tech and developed video-broadcast capabilities. What we're seeing on the board is the first metnion of the Bad Thing that has happened in Kansas. Donald MacPherson also speculates that "the Planet's conversion to a broadcast medium could be Waid's small comment on the state of the newspaper industry at present."
Note that the brand name of the board is "Sonny"--a futuristic variant on Sony, perhaps.
Page 16 (26). There's a sad irony in Norman McCay's sermon here; he's preaching from the Book of Revelation (8:7, 9:2, 14:7), and what he's saying parallels the Bad Thing that took place in Kansas.
Anthony adds that "the natural disasters described are again supposed to be taken literally. Two of the disasters (hail and no more green grass) refer back to the plagues of Egypt. The `no more green grass' is symbolic of the locusts that eat all of the crops and cause famine." It also has resonance with the results of the Kansas Incident.
Although the figures in panels 3 and 4 look like George and Barbara Bush, Alex Ross says that any resemblance is purely coincidental.
As Johanna Draper points out, there are few people in the church, and they're all older; this is a parallel to what is happening to many churches today, and to the loss of faith in superheroes among the young of Kingdom Come.
Page 17 (27). McCay's ripping up of the pages of his Bible, in panels 3 and 6, is an indicator of the seriousness of both of level of doubt and lack of faith and of the Event in Kansas.
Bill Jennings points out that the name of Pastor McCay's church is "Gethsemane Evangelical," as we can see in panel 1. This would fit with McCay's attack of doubt and anguish; Gethsemane was the garden outside Jerusalem mentioned in Mark 14 that was the scene of Jesus' agony and arrest; McCay's "betrayal" of his congregation somewhat mirrors Judas' betrayal of Jesus.
Guess notes that not only was Gethsemane the place where Jesus had a crisis of faith regarding his role in the Will of God, but that it was also the place where an Angel of God appeared to reassure Jesus that God has not abandoned him (Luke 22:43). This somewhat parallels the appearance of the Spectre and his role in Norman McCay's life. (The Revelations supplement points out that the Gethsemane Church of Kingdom Come is modeled on a real Gethsemane Church)
Page 18 (28). Enter the Spectre. Another Golden Age hero, the Spectre was originally Jim Corrigan, a policeman killed in the line of duty. But rather than go to Heaven, he was told by a Voice that his mission on Earth was not finished, and that he was to return and fight evil. In the decades since then he was evolved and become the manifestation of God's judgment and wrath.
As a few people have pointed out, the Spectre is naked here, missing his traditional shorts, boots, collar and buttons; this might be a parallel to Dr. Manhattan's nakedness in Watchman.
Also, the Spectre's actions in the church scene appear to echo the stained glass windows of the church. Andrew says, of this: "The window that he (the Spectre) walks through is depicting the Agony in the Garden. This could represent the fact that we all will `go through' temptation, trials, and tribulations. Also, the Agony in the Garden is where Jesus says, `Not My will, but Your will be done.' This is referenced in one of the Kingdom Come ads that states, `Whose will be done?'"
The KC Revelations segment add the following take on the Spectre, from Ross:
"The Spectre's exact metaphysical nature has been more clearly defined in recent years, and the angelic allusion to his role in the DC Universe is more or less left to visual interpretation. Our version certainly uses less of the fearsome nature shown by his more classic persona. He simply needed to supply us with a presence of dread and religious belief come true, not limited by super-hero trappings. This is the reason for eliminating his gloves, footwear and shorts: to present him removed from any 20th-century costuming, adding to his dislocation from human concerns and modesty."
Dave Van Domelen speculates that his depowering is not random, but meant to "reflect the idea that even the Wrath of God has been weakened by the evil of the times. The loss of faith has had effects from the mundane to the cosmic." While this theory did not pan out, as we shall see, it's still an interesting interpretation.
The Spectre's conversation with McCay is counterpointed by the picture, in the background, of Jesus talking with--someone. The figure raising his/her hand might be Thomas, who doubted Jesus' resurrection, but it looks (to my eyes, anyhow) more like a woman, which would make it Mary Magdalene, most faithful and penitent of Jesus' followers. Young J. Kim says, conversely, that the painting depicts the meeting of Saul with Jesus on the road to Damascus, which is where Saul underwent his transformation of faith and become Paul the Apostle. Any of these scenes would symbolically fit the Spectre's encounter with McCay.
Note the gleam in the Spectre's eye in panel 5.
Page 20 (30). Note that the Spectre originally came for Wesley Dodds. I'm glad that Mr. Waid gives Wesley respect in this manner; the Golden Age heroes of DC have not generally been treated well, which makes every instance of them being given some dignity and respect that much more important.
McCay's question about why the Spectre won't stop the coming catastrophe, and the Spectre's response ("That is not my task") is important to this series. The Spectre's brief has traditionally been to punish, rather than prevent. Moreover, one of the central themes of this series is about taking responsibility, and if the Spectre was to prevent the disasters to come the individuals who need to take responsibility for their actions would not do so.
Page 21 (31). Norman McCay says "I see a midwestern farmland...but that's not--possible." Obviously, whatever it was that happened in Kansas was really, really bad.
As a number of folks, Alan Turniasky among them, have pointed out, the shot of Superman here, with the beard, turned-down left hand, and plank behind his shoulder, are all reminiscent of Jesus on the Cross. Given the overwhelming Biblical imagery in Kingdom Come, that probably isn't coincidental. Neither, I think, is it a coincidence that we see Kal-el here as a carpenter--Jesus' traditional occupation. Finally, Michael Denton points out that we can see three spikes sticking out of Kal-el's pocket--a reference, perhaps, to the three spikes used to crucify Christ.
William H. Sudderth, among other people, points out that Superman's pose in panel 3 is very similar to his pose on the cover of Superman #1.
The shift from the darkness of McCay's church to the cheerful, sky-blue of Superman's farm is a perhaps-conscious parallel to Miller's treatment of Superman in The Dark Knight Returns, in which Superman's scenes are colored with bright, cheery shades, unlike the grim darkness of Batman's scenes.
Page 22 (32). Superman has obviously aged somewhat here; he is much closer in appearance to the original Golden Age (later Earth-2) Superman than to the Superman of today's DC.
We begin to get some of Kingdom Come's back-history here. Superman began his "self-imposed exile" after a "trial" of some kind; we'll get more on this later.
The menagerie of animals on this page--a cat (sitting on the hay bales in the barn), horse, dog, and a grinning monkey peeking from behind a horse's legs--are an homage to the Silver Age Legion of Superpets: Streaky, Comet, Krypto and Beppo, respectively. (Krypto was Superboy's dog, Streaky and Comet were Supergirl's pets, sort of, and Beppo was a free agent stowaway from Krypton). The dog in panel 3 particularly looks like Krypto.
Thomas Howard points out that Superman's lifting of the tractor could be taken as an allusion to the cover of Action Comics #1.
Ian John points out that the Spectre's line in panel 1 is from the monologue of The Adventures of Superman.
The Revelations supplement has this to say about Superman, from Ross:
The Revelations supplement said this about Wonder Woman's new look:
Wonder Woman's line in panel 4, "you can't live forever in solitude," cuts two ways, as we'll soon see; Superman can't live alone and apart from the world forever--and he can't live here, in his Fortress of Solitude, either. Also, as a few people pointed out, the line "I'm Superman. I can do anything" might be a reference to the song "Superman," originally by the Clique but more notably covered by R.E.M. (Thanks to Clifford Schexnayder for correcting my initial error)
Panel 5, where Wonder Woman is moving the strand of hair out of Kal-el's face, is a very nice touch. Have I mentioned how wonderful this book looks yet?
Also note that in panel 5 Kal-el says, "Earthlings die. You know that," with the "die" and "you" being in boldface. I take this implication to mean that, in the Kingdom Come future, Wonder Woman's long-time lover, Steve Trevor, has already died.
Diana and Kal speak of "him," with Kal denying that he's afraid of "him." The "him" is not Luthor, Mxyzptlk, or Brainiac, but is rather Magog, who we'll meet later.
"They were your parents, Cla--Kal. And she was your wife." This off-handed reference to the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent and Lois Lane Kent (more on the latter below) gives a further hint about Superman's so-far unrevealed past history.
The "here, things grow" line is obviously meant to be important. "Here" as opposed to both rural heartland America, where (judging by Superman's words) nothing no longer grows, and "here" as opposed to Metropolis, for reasons we'll see soon enough. The Event in Kansas is in fact a symbolic slap at Superman; he's from somewhere very like Kansas (in post-Crisis DC, his hometown of Smallville is in fact in Kansas), and the new breed of superhumans would seem to have destroyed it.
Page 24 (34). Wonder Woman reveals that we aren't actually in the heartland, but in Superman's Fortress of Solitude, his Arctic (Antarctic, post-Crisis) keep and hideaway. This is a new and interesting twist on the Fortress of Solitude; it has traditionally been shown as a literal fortress in the side of a cliff, somewhat cold and antiseptic, but this Fortress seems closer to the vast London Pyramid of the Eclipse hero Miracleman. William H. Sudderth adds that the post-Crisis Fortress of Solitude was underground.
The holographic technology used here seems to be quite similar to the "holodeck" used in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As the keen-eyed Donald MacPherson notes, all of the doors in the Fortress of Solitude are shaped like Superman's emblem.
"He's out of control." Magog, it seems, has become the symbolic leader of the new breed in much the same way that Superman was the symbolic leader of the original heroes. Unfortunately, Magog is no Superman--quite the reverse.
To quote Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia:
In the Bible, Magog is spoken of as a son of Japhet (Genesis 10:2), in the Revelation Gog and Magog symbolize all future enemies of the kingdom of God; and in Ezekial Gog is a prince of Magog, a terrible ruler of a country in the north, probably Scythia or Armenia. By rabbinical writers of the 7th century AD Gog was identified with the Antichrist.
The Revelations supplement says this about Magog, from Ross:
Page 26 (36). The word balloons here are from various newscasts in Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, French and German; in order, they are saying, "The world was shocked by horrible acts" (Anglicized Spanish), "Tragedy in America" (Korean), "paralyzed by the news of Magog" (Portuguese), "fierce brutality of Magog" (Italian), "American by the name of Magog" (French), and "We have learned that Magog has endangered us" (German).
We see, in various panels:
A shot of the famous painting "American Gothic," which is a subtle, dark commentary on a "typical" American farming father and his daughter. As Guess caught, but somehow the rest of us missed, the painting is reversed here--in the original, the daughter is on the left and the father is on the right. As Guess says, this can presumably be taken as a comment on the reversal of the fortunes not only of the Midwestern farmers but also of the status of the U.S.
A shot of four heroes: The Question, Peacemaker II, Peter Cannon--Thunderbolt, and Blue Beetle II. All four are heroes from the Charlton line of comics who were later purchased by DC. Peter Cannon, however, is dressed in the costume of the Golden Age hero Daredevil; Alex Ross said that this was done "just because I wanted an excuse to draw Daredevil's costume." As well, Peacemaker here has a modified costume that makes him look similar to the bounty hunter Boba Fett, from the Star Wars movies--perhaps a further commentary by Waid/Ross on how Peacemaker in particular has evolved?
A shot of the Judomaster II next to Peter Cannon--Thunderbolt. The original Judomaster was a World War Two hero from Charlton; this new Judomaster is a woman, and is wearing a jacket/vest which was absent from the first Judomaster's costume.
Our first view of Magog. Say, isn't he in an Image comic?
A shot of Captain Atom, an atomic-powered character who was originally a Charlton hero but was later bought by DC; he became the most prominent of the (formerly-) Charlton heroes, and nearly became the evil tyrant-from-the-future Monarch. He's in a new costume here, one that combines his original red and yellow colors and his more recent silver/chrome look.
Jonathan Woodward speculates that the deliberate grouping of the Charlton heroes together might be another reference to the Watchmen, whose heroes were originally based on the Charlton characters. Still another Watchmen reference here, as Alan Turniasky points out, is the lone figure watching the bank of television screens--quite similar to Ozymandias in Watchmen. However, I'm certain that the idea of exposure to several tv screens at once as a way of receiving mass media/information input predates Watchmen; it might be from either Marshall McLuhan or William S. Burroughs.
A shot of large metal figure saving Magog from a blast; that is Alloy the Metal Man, of whom we'll learn more later.
Foster Coker notes that three of the newscasters look like Carroll O'Connor, Bob Barker, and Walter Cronkite. Matthew Colville adds that "Wyrmwood is, along with all the things you already touch upon, the name of the junior tempter, being tutored on deviltry by Screwtape in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Mind you, it's spelled Wormwood, but the allusion, to me, seemed obvious."
Page 27 (37). Big Fight Scene #2. As the television narrator tells us, it's Magog and his "Justice Battalion" vs the Parasite.
The Justice Battalion is clearly the successor to the Justice League. Note the word choice: "Justice Battalion." The "Justice Society" and "Justice League" have a somewhat civil tone to them, while the "Justice Battalion" is much harder-edged--fitting for this Dark New World Messrs. Waid and Ross have created, but a sad step down from the Silver Age. (gregg and Mark Coale both point out that the JSA, once upon a time during the second World War, was the Justice Battalion. Magog seemingly believes that his heroes are at war with their opposition--quite a difference from the old, Silver Age Justice League). Dan Shoemaker also points out that "the characterization of the Justice Battalion as ruthless and fearsome has resonances with the dream-universe JLA depicted in Dan Jurgens' run on the book" from a few years back.
The Justice Battalion apparently consists of: Peacemaker II, Peter Cannon--Thunderbolt, Judomaster II, Magog (as Alex Ross notes, "giving him a gold metal motif and huge ram horns was intended to give a sense of pagan idolatry like a golden calf." Again, more Biblical symbolism at work here), Captain Atom, Nightshade II (another Charlton character), and Alloy the Metal Man, the tall figure in metal. They are facing off against the Parasite, one of Superman's deadliest enemies and a superhuman capable of draining the life and powers out of anyone. Here, though, he seems weakened--rather than being big, strong, and purple/green/orange, his musculature and veins are visible. Perhaps he's been reduced to feeding on his own life-force?
The Parasite is seen here as "fearful"--one more note that these superhumans are not the heroes that we know and admire. The bad guys were never really afraid of the Justice League, even though they knew they'd be beaten. This Justice Battalion, however, seems to be somewhat more deadly; as the narrator notes, they ignored the Parasite's pleas for mercy. This would be out of character for the original Charlton/DC Captain Atom, Nightshade, Judomaster and Peter Cannon, but this is a new age, and these aren't the heroes we knew.
More backhistory: "Magog--one of the new breed of heroes, known to many as the one responsible for Superman's farewell to Metr--" Perhaps Magog was responsible for the death of Lois Lane?
The Parasite lays hands on Captain Atom in panel 3, which gives him Captain Atom's powers--this is how he can blast Captain Atom so badly in panel 4. And, as in The Last Avengers Story, where Wonder Man is cracked open, we're about to learn that breaking open a nuclear-powered man just isn't a good idea. Michel Alpert points out that in DC continuity Captain Atom was once cut open without nearly so drastic side-effects.
The Revelations supplement says this about Captain Atom:
Page 28 (38). The tall metal figure we saw on pages 12 (22) and 13 (23) is identified here as "the Metal Man Alloy." The Metal Men were a group of robots, created by Dr. Will Magnus, that were each made out of a different element--Lead, Mercury, Tin, etc. Alloy seems to be, as the word implies, a combination of all of them--hence his size and multi-colored costume, as well as the element mark on his forehead, which all of the Metal Men also possessed. David Goldfarb notes that Alloy's appearance is somewhat similar to the element hero Metamorpho. Jonathan Woodward points out that Gold is dead as of 1996 DC continuity and that one of Alloy's arms is gold colored; this could be a mistake on Waid/Ross' part, or merely another indication that this is an Elseworlds, after all, and not strictly bound to current continuity. The Revelations supplement says this about Alloy:
Page 29 (39). Kal-el tells Wonder Woman to "go back to your island." Wonder Woman is from Paradise Island, the legendary home of the Amazons; in Kingdom Come, she has apparently moved back to it, perhaps in response to Steve Trevor's death.
Donald MacPherson notes the similarity of poses between Wonder Woman and Lara in panel 2; this might be an implication by Waid/Ross as to who the literal as well as symbolic/figurative parents of a new generation of superheroes should be.
Clifford Schexnayder notes that "The statue of Lara's seems to be from the design used in John Byrne's Man of Steel."
That desolate landscape Wonder Woman is flying over in panel 3 is the Antarctic; we can just make out the traditional, old-style keyhole door to the Fortress of Solitude. However, the door is in the shape of Superman's emblem.
Page 30 (40). Johanna Draper points out that the imagery of the curtain being parted by the Spectre is similar to "the Biblical imagery of the curtain hiding the Holy of Holies, which was rent at Christ's crucifixion."
Page 31 (41). Keystone City here looks like Metropolis does in current DC continuity: bright and hopeful. The Spectre calls it a utopia, and it certainly seems to be. Why? Well, as the Spectre points out, it's the home of the Flash, who here seems to incorporate bits of several of the figures who have borne the name: he's got the winged metal hat of the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick; he's got the lightning-bolt backdraft (a residue of the Speed Force) of the current Flash, Wally West; he's got the in-several-places-at-once appearance of Mort Meskin's Johnny Quick; and his color and skin-tight costume are similar to the Silver Age Flash (and first patron saint of DC) Barry Allen. Ross' original character design of the Flash called for him to be called "Mercury," as a way of showing how far above mere humans, and how close to god-like, the Kingdom Come Flash has become.
Both Mark Waid and Alex Ross said that the identities of Flash, Hawkman and the Green Lantern (who we'll see in the next few pages) would not be explicitly stated, and that this ambiguity was intentional, as the main point of their appearances here was their iconic significance. Ross added that his character designs were meant to incorporate elements of the characters from all the comic eras. Thanks to Thomas Howard for passing Ross' comments along.
Page 32 (42). We get a glimpse of another of the old-timers, Hawkman. The "environmental terrorist" angle is new to the character, but his sympathy for the "beasts and birds" is a logical, in-character extrapolation. His hawk-like helmet is something that was added to the character in the 1970s; his original helmet showed at least part of Hawkman's face. The pendant around Hawkman's neck is an Egyptian hawk (a falcon, perhaps?), symbolic of the Golden Age Hawkman being the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince (and, yes, ancient Egypt did have princes).
What we are seeing is not Hawkman's new costume, but is in fact his new body. He's become a real hawk-man; this is in keeping with his new, post-Zero Hour nature as a hawk avatar, as well as being a nice twist by Waid and Ross on the Egyptian origin of the Golden Age Hawkman--Hawkman has become a hawk-headed figure, just like the Egyptian gods Horus (who had a falcon head) and Ra (who had a hawk's head).
Guess usefully notes that Hawkman's amulet is an exact copy of the necklace found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. The necklace represents the sun god, Ra, with a sun disk on his forehead. In his talons Ra holds the symbols for infinity (a sun inside a circle) and life (the ankh).
The Revelations supplement adds this about Hawkman:
I find it interesting that the Green Lantern is now "ever vigilant, ever waiting for signs of threats extraterrestrial." The implications behind this phrase are made clearer later in the series.
Alex Ross said that he originally wanted GL to be called the Green Knight, which explains the knightly armor that the Lantern now wears, as well as perhaps being a reference to the medieval poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." If Ross did mean for the Lantern's new name to be a reference to the poem, and the Kingdom Come Lantern to have become like the poem's Green Knight, then the Lantern would seem to have changed dramatically from being a noble hero to being a somewhat arrogant, even monstrous figure.
Some people have posted saying that GL's Emerald City is empty; I don't think this is so; note the shuttle/plane landing in a space port in the foreground.
Bill Sodeman points out that Portland, Oregon, is known as the "Emerald City" in our Earth, Earth-Prime. Since, as he points out, Coast City (the Silver Age Green Lantern's home) is on the West Coast, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, an implication that can be drawn here is that GL simply boosted Portland, Oregon into space to create his "Emerald City."
A few other people have pointed out that the lower part of GL's space-city is the mothership from ELO's "Out of the Blue" album cover.
David A. Carr notes the similarity between GL's pose here and the classic Buscema Dr. Doom pose.
The Revelations supplement had this to say about Green Lantern I:
Somehow I knew Mr. Waid wouldn't let me down. Yes, that is the Legion of Superheroes in panel 3. I didn't know how, but I knew a long-time Legion fan such as Mr. Waid would somehow put them in here. Their costumes seem to be an agglomeration of the traditional, Silver Age costumes and the modern costumes the post-Zero Hour Legion wears, but Messrs Waid and Ross seem to have included almost all of the Legionnaires, regardless of the period they appeared in. They are (according to the Waid/Ross Annotations), in order, from the lead: Superboy, Supergirl, Saturn Girl, Live Wire (formerly Lightning Lad), Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Light Lass, Mon-El, Karate Kid, Inferno (formerly Sun Boy), Dream Girl, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, Invisible Kid, Alchemist (formerly Element Lad), Apparition (formerly Phantom Girl), Leviathan (formerly Colossal Boy), Star Boy, Chameleon (formerly Chameleon Boy), Matter-Eater Lad, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Princess Projectra, Chemical King, Dragonmage, Ferro (formerly Ferro Lad), Triad (formerly Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel), Bouncing Boy, and XS. Waid and Ross have taken Legionnaires from all points of the group's history; the ones missing are Andromeda, Blok, Celeste McCauley, Computo, Dawnstar, Echo, Gates, Impulse/Kent Shakespeare, Invisible Kid II, Kid Quantum, Kinetix, Kono, Magnetic Kid, Nemesis Kid, Quislet, Tellus, Tyroc, the White Witch, and Wildfire.
As we'll see in later issues, a contradiction arises from this scene; two Legionnaires are present in this panel who are also present in the time of Kingdom Come. I suppose this is yet another of those delightful Time Travel Paradoxestm, however.
As a couple of people have pointed out, both Superboy and Supergirl are from the 20th century, and are presumably who the Spectre is referring to as having "lost themselves" in the future. This would of course refer to the post-Zero Hour Superboy, who is only a partial clone of Superman, rather than the Silver Age Superboy, who had a long and intimate association with the LSH but was also the younger Superman (a chronological impossibility now).
Note the old, Silver Age Legion of Superheroes club house at the lower left of the LSH panel.
The Revelations supplement says this about Superboy & Supergirl:
The influence of the design of the Gotham City of the Batman movies and Batman: The Animated Series on the Gotham City of Kingdom Come seems clear here. The Waid/Ross Annotations specifically credit the shield-bearing Sentinel of Liberty statue to Batman: The Animated Series.
Another nice, subtle touch on this page is the variety of styles of the cars in panel 1, ranging from classic 1920s to futuristic. A very nice job by Mr. Ross.
I'd never have caught this, nor believed it, had others not pointed it out, but in panel 2, that's Fat Albert and his gang who've just shot those civilians. Fat Albert, Dumb Donald, Bucky, Old Weird Harold, Rudy, Russell, and Mushmouth, what has become of you?
Page 37 (47). The Waid/Ross Annotations state the following about the Bat-robots:
An ongoing subject of debate on the newsgroup Rec.Arts.Comics.DC.Universe is the meaning of this scene. Does the presence of the Bat Knights and the Spectre's word choice somehow signify, as many people believe, that Batman has instituted a fascist/totalitarian reign in Gotham? I'm of the belief that this isn't necessarily so, but we will see the answer to this question in later issues. On this issue, Waid said: "...due to Batman's perseverance and Superman's absence, Metropolis has become Gotham and Gotham has become Metropolis. Batman just kept fighting the good fight."
Page 39 (49). Big Fight Scene #3. That's Manotaur, Swastika, and Trix again in panel 4. The young African American is Thunder, the Kingdom Come Johnny Thunder; the original, GA version of the character commanded a genie called the T-Bolt, but this version has separate powers all his own. The design on his shirt is the original, GA T-Bolt, as drawn on page 2, panel 4 of All-Star Comics #3, the Golden Age comic book which had the first appearance of the Justice Society of America. (The shirt design is more clearly seen on the cover of this issue)
Note that Manotaur and Trix were fighting each other before, but are on the same side now. These superhumans seem to be fighting just for the sake of fighting, with no regard to who gets hurt, which is, in a way, a neat encapsulation of the new comic book ethos which this series is decrying.
Jonathan Woodword points out the Daily Planet in the background, Metropolis being the only suitable place for Superman to make his return.
Page 40 (50). The big skull-faced robot at the end of the cable-car is N-I-L-8, a character made up for Kingdom Come. He can also be seen on the cover.
The figure standing in the middle of the cable-car, draped in armor and guns and wearing the sign "fair play" on his chest, is Mr. Terrific II, the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero Mr. Terrific. The Revelations supplement says this about Mr. Terrific:
Elayne points out that the figure inside the cable car, in the middle window, looking up in terror, is modeled on Mark Chiarello, and the figure in the right-hand window is modeled on Vince Letterio. Both are DC employees. The wounded man, who has just been shot, is (according to the Waid/Ross Annotations) Charlie Kochman, the Kingdom Come novelization editor. Martha Thomases adds that Jason Liebig, another DC employee, is in the crowd scenes. She also says that the figure of Joker's Daughter II is modeled on Jill Thompson, a writer/artist; Thompson is Chicago-based, as is Alex Ross. Austin Loomis adds that Thompson has occasionally drawn herself into stories that she was illustrating for Vertigo.
Page 42 (52). This is the sort of dramatic entrance that is symbolically fitting for Superman, as well as appealing most gratifyingly to the fanboys in the audience (such as myself).
Page 43 (53). Breathes there an American who doesn't feel something stir inside themselves at the words "Look! Up in the sky!"? The women saying those classic words in this case are visually modeled on Heidi MacDonald (comics editor of Disney Adventures magazine and Friends of Lulu board member) and Maureen McTigue (Assistant Manager of Retailer Services for DC). Elayne speculates that that's Kurt Busiek looking back up as Vince and others attend to the wounded DC employee.
As Mark Coale pointed out, the "bending steel....changing the very course of the mighty river" is an echo of the words at the beginning of the old Superman tv show.
Page 44 (54). Someone whose name I didn't get pointed out the words "Good sport" written on the hands of Mr. Terrific II.
A few people, including Henry Chen, pointed out that Superman's emblem is now red-on-black, not the red-on-yellow we are all used to. This is similar to the Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940s, but is also meant, according to Ross, to reflect the darker tenor of Kingdom Come. Chris Sypal points out that the "S" itself is different; it contains only the upper curve, rather than the second, descending curve.
The Revelations supplement has the following to say about Superman's new look:
"I was heavily influence by the Fleischer cartoon features based on Joe Shuster's designs, with his old-fashioned "S" logo on a black shield. This same look can be found in a few other places in the early comics themselves and always stood out to me as a dramatic way to go with the design. The stylistic change I brought to the letter is meant to show the passage of time. As it has changed since 1938, it could further transform into the simplest graphic possible.
"In the earliest visual concepts for this project I was aiming in the Frank Miller/Dark Knight Returns direction, where Superman hadn't aged in 20 years. As others had pointed out to me, my drawings already gave him a time-worn, weathered look. It occurred to me that it better suited the character to experience as many of the humbling aspects of humanity as he could, and aging naturally would offset his more godlike attributes. My version of Superman was the most satisfying visual and emotional accomplishment of Kingdom Come to me, as he stands out as the most compelling figure I've ever illustrated."
Ross apparently decided to have some fun with the character appearances here. Not only do we see Bjork again, but also Freddie Prinze, Dick Van Dyke and Floyd the barber. Go figure.
The following folks were mighty helpful, providing comments, criticisms, and loads and loads of information:
Deane Aikins, Michel Alpert, Anthony, Marie E. Antoon, Azrael@grfn.org, Brian Bailie, Don Brinker, Michael Brown, Loki Carbis, David A. Carr, Scott B. Casteel (who did his own list of annotations), William Cavanaugh, "Cheese," Henry Chen, Scott Christensen, Mark Coale (who is responsible for turning me into a DC fanboy), Foster Coker, Paul A. Cooper, Jon Crowhurst, Dwayne Chun, Matthew Daly, Michael Denton, Mike Dietsch, Eric Dittman, Thad Doria, Johanna Draper, Robert Faires, Andrew Farrell, Jason Fliegel, Eric Fritzius, Gail, Mark Gallaher, Grant Giandonato, David Goldfarb, Gregg, Guess, Eric Harding, Rob Harris, David Hawkins, Rick Haikeeba Hodge, Scott Hollifield, Thomas Howard, Bill Jennings, Ian John, Just Joe, Young J. Kim, David Lacina, Jason Langlois, A. Chilton Lannen, Yeechang Lee, Len Leshin, Doug Limmer, Austin Loomis, Sean MacDonald, Donald MacPherson, Jonathan Maske, Edward Mathews, Rudolf Mammitzsch, "Mr. Miracle," David Morefield, Paul@discordia, Tony Pi, John Quiring, Ray Randell, Scott Rogers, Clifford Schexnayder, Greg Schienke, Espana N. Sheriff, Joel Shin, Dan Shoemaker, Marc Singer, Don Smith, Lance Smith, David J. Snyder, Bill Sodeman, Mike Solko, Craig Stenseth, Mark Stephenson, William H. Sudderth, Chris Sypal, Alex Tam, Matt Terl, Martha Thomases, Gtribb, Alan Turniansky, Dave Van Domelen, Yves Vallois, Dean Velasco, Bern Walker, the ever-helpful Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, Andrew D. Woodard, Jonathan Woodward, and Allen W. Wright.
All characters mentioned and described and text quoted herein are copyright 2000 DC Comics. No infringement of copyright or trademark is intended by this annotations, nor has permission been given by DC Comics to quote from Kingdom Come. The text to this annotation is copyright 2000 Jess Nevins. This annotation may be quoted in its entirety as long as this acknowledgement is included.
Back To Home