I don't know if anyone reads this blog and after a three month hiatus I'm sure some have given up on it. All I can say is that it's been a busy summer and I hope to get back to it now. Speaking of getting around to things, I just got around to finally reading the Kingdom Come mini-series published by DC comics in 1996. I've owned half the series that long and tracked down the additional back issues a couple of years ago. I finally read the whole series in a couple of sittings.
Most fans, according to reviews I've read, seem to either love or hate Kingdom Come. I happened to love it since I am so retro and there is a lot here for a retro fan to enjoy. If you've read this blog for any length of time then you know that for many years I have grieved the loss of the original Justice Society of America who were revived as residents of Earth Two in the 60s and 70s when we saw annual JLA/JSA crossovers in the pages of Justice League of America.
The JSA really got the shaft in the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths since the multiverse was merged into one earth and the Golden Age Superman and Batman were retconned out of existence. But I loved the idea of an alternate earth where the heroes in mainstream continuity had older and more experienced dopplegangers in another universe. I enjoyed imagining the possible futures of the more modern incarnations of DC heroes.
One of my favorites was the older, graying-around-the-temples Superman of the Golden Age. The closest DC has come to filling the vacuum left by this character was the Superman in Kingdom Come. Here is an elseworlds story outside mainline DC continuity. It's a possible future of the DC heroes who in this series are older than their mainline counterparts. The big three, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are all older in this reality, retired from public life, and a new generation of metahumans now roam the earth, but their brand of justice is vigilantism. They make a big mess of things leading the big three out of retirement to make sure the lawless metahumans are stopped before things get worse. Heroes remaining committed to the original ideals of the "never ending battle" are recruited to help the big three.
So other than older dopplegangers including a Superman who resembles the Golden Age hero, what did I like about Kingdom Come? Well, first that it was drawn (painted) by Alex Ross who is one of my favorite artists. Now that he works for Dynamite Entertainment he does a lot of plotting and covers, but I miss his interior art work. But I love Alex Ross because his characters always look so real. While not an extremely educated critique, that is, in a nutshell, what I love about Ross. From every fold in the clothing to the wrinkles on the facial expressions, I just love Alex Ross' work. It's no secret that Ross is often inspired by real (and imaginary) people for crowd scenes and such. But I suppose that an artist has to get his inspiration from somewhere.
So there is no telling who will be making a cameo in a Ross production. But on my first reading through Kingdom Come I was so caught up in the big picture of the story that I missed a lot of the cameos. After reading the wikipedia article on Kingdom Come, I went back through and looked for all the characters I missed. It was like hunting for Waldo of the Where's Waldo fame, but I think I found most of the "hidden" characters. Here are the ones that most interested me:
- The Gotham street gang stopped by Bat-robots in issue one bear enough resemblance to Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids to be their Kingdom Come dopplegangers. The Fat Albert of this universe has obviously failed to be the moral influence of the Albert we all know and love.
- In the second issue Phil Sheldon, identified by the eye-glasses and eye-patch combination, appears at the Justice League news conference. He was the narrator in Ross' Marvels over at the other company.
- The second issue nightclub scene has a lot of cameos. These include Ross' nod to retro music with lookalikes of Tommy and the Acid Queen from Tommy and the Village People. By the third issue a colorfully clad group of young men at a Justice League meeting bear striking resemblances to The Monkees. Also on hand are robotic members of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A character named King Marvel looks like a blend of Captain Marvel, Jr. and Elvis Presley, which is fitting since I hear that Elvis' hairstyle was influenced by Cap, Jr., a childhood hero of the king of rock and roll. I can only guess if that's where Elvis got the idea for the capes, but I notice that King Marvel's cape looks like one Elvis would have worn. In the KC reality I think it was the King who influenced the Captain.
- Also at the nightclub are Zan of the Wonder Twins as a waiter and Marvin, both from the Super Friends 70s TV series. I also managed to spot the Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, and Rorschach.
- Carrie Kelly from Dark Knight Returns waits tables at Planet Krypton.
- I understand that the epilogue of the graphic novel version includes cameos of Alex Ross, Mark Waid, and even Stan Lee. But I don't have the graphic novel version.
Those are the cameos that grabbed my attention. In my next post I'll write about the subsequent influence of Kingdom Come on the mainline DC continuity and especially on the JSA.