Monday, August 20, 2012
Kingdom Come - Mark Waid, Alex Ross
Rating: 5 stars
This powerful graphic novel came to being out of two basic ideas: What would the world be like if the children and the grandchildren of superheroes turned out to be schmucks; and an idea raised in the Introduction by Elliot S. Maggin - "Why Must There Be a Superman?" As he explains, his own original idea had been that Superman realizes that in helping humankind, he is in fact hindering it.
The original Justice League has long since disbanded - following Superman into retirement and all but disappearing from the collective conscious. But their children and grandchildren have taken over - a race of metahumans intent on fighting each other with no regard to innocent bystanders or the impending destruction of the world. Sensing doom, Wonder Woman coaxes Superman with "Truth and Justice" and together, they reform the League. But it's clear that - even with the League - superheroes and humans alike have to change their paradigms, work together or face annihilation.
With this storyline and gorgeous artwork, Mark Waid and Alex Ross force us to realize that the ordinary can be extraordinary, and the super can be extremely flawed. We must learn to grow and change, and to offer these lessons to the next generation.
From the introduction: "The heroes of fable and fact to whose virtue we all aspire, are not only colorful people living vivid lives; they traditionally understand the value of human life in all its places and conditions. But real-life heroes, unlike many of the icons we have created, also understand human dignity and human immortality, and these concepts are lacking in, for example, Superman's education. Heroes especially need to understand the value of the things of a life; its artifacts, its ideas, its loves." And this is exactly what this graphic novel achieves - using the flaws of the super as the extreme, but showing us the paths we might also take for our future outside of this superhuman realm.