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Kingdom Come was a four-issue comic book limited series published in 1996 by DC Comics. It was written by Mark Waid and painted in gouache by Alex Ross, who also developed the concept from an original idea. Set some 20 years into the future of the then-current DC Universe, it deals with a growing conflict between "traditional" superheroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.
The series draws heavily on biblical apocalyptic imagery, especially that of the Book of Revelation.
When comic book artist Alex Ross was working on Marvels, published in 1994, he decided to create a similar "grand opus" about characters from DC Comics. Ross wrote a 40-page handwritten outline of what would become Kingdom Come and pitched the idea to James Dale Robinson. Ross sought for Kingdom Come to be similar to Alan Moore's Watchmen (1986-1987), and thought that Robinson's talent was akin to Moore's. Ultimately, Ross teamed with writer Mark Waid, who was recommended by DC editors due to his strong familiarity with the history of DC superheroes.
The story is set roughly a generation after the then-current DC universe. Ten years prior to the start of the story, the Joker massacres the staff of the Daily Planet, killing (among others) Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lois Lane. As he arrives for his trial, he is killed by a new superhero named Magog. Magog is acquitted for his cold-blooded act and Superman is appalled by the public embracing a killer as a hero. Already disheartened at the death of Lois Lane, Kal-El abandons his life as Superman, retreating to his Fortress of Solitude where he will spend the next decade, failing to realize his importance as a constant inspiration/role model to other heroes. Other heroes, equally disturbed at the public's overwhelmingly positive reaction to Magog's actions, withdraw from the world at large, leaving a power vacuum that is soon filled by the new generation of "heroes" Magog represents.
Without the moral compass provided by Superman and his generation, there is little or no distinction between 'heroes' and 'villains'. Metahumans battle openly in the streets without true cause, or concern for collateral damage or innocent passers-by. Average humans, demoralized by the loss of their true heroes, the disregard that the new generation shows for them, and their inability to do anything about the state of affairs created by these metahumans, have fallen into a societal depression. Efforts that celebrate human achievement, like professional sports, the Olympics, and Nobel Prizes, have been abandoned.
Certain heroes like the Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and Batman have remained active, although their methods have changed dramatically, all of them becoming more distant from humanity. Hawkman, now an anthropomorphized hawk, has become an eco-terrorist. Batman, now an old man who relies on a metal exo-suit to support his broken body, enforces the rule of law in Gotham City with an army of remotely controlled bat-like androids. The Flash has become permanently hyper-accelerated, patrolling Keystone city at speeds so fast that he seems to be everywhere at once, but can no longer be seen or heard by human beings. Green Lantern lives alone in a huge orbiting space station, ready to defend the Earth against an extraterrestrial threat that may never appear.
The narrator and point of view character of the story is a minister named Norman McCay. McCay is a longtime friend of Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman, now infirm and bedridden. The nightmares that once aided Dodds' crimefighting have become disturbing, apocalyptic visions. McCay, like Dodds' doctors, attribute the visions to senility. When Dodds passes away, his visions are transferred to McCay. Already suffering from a crisis of faith, McCay is convinced he has finally gone insane when the Spectre appears to him. The Spectre, still hosted by Jim Corrigan, but no longer in touch with his humanity, recruits McKay to bear witness, and help him determine the innocent from the wicked and ultimately to pass judgment on the approaching superhuman apocalypse.
The dark state of the world comes to a head when the Justice Battalion, led by Magog, attacks the Parasite with excessive and unnecessary force — they refuse his offers to surrender and deny his pleas for mercy. Parasite panics and tears open Captain Atom, releasing his nuclear energies and irradiating the entire state of Kansas and parts of the surrounding states, taking out a large portion of America's food production.
Second coming of Superman
Coaxed by Wonder Woman, Superman decides to return to Metropolis and re-form the Justice League following the Kansas disaster. The yellow aspects of his costume replaced by black as a badge of mourning for those lost in the Kansas disaster, Superman intends to enforce morality upon the runaway metahumanity by offering them a choice: join his League and abide by a code of ethics, or be made a prisoner by it. He manages to collect former heroes (including Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, and Dick Grayson, now known as Red Robin, among others) and reformed "new heroes," such as Avia (Mister Miracle and Big Barda's daughter), but Batman, one of the most prominent of the old guard, refuses to join Superman's crusade. Batman believes Superman's idealist notions are outdated and that his interference will only exacerbate the problem. He interprets Superman's plan as an example of the strong exerting their will upon the weak, something to which he will not be party to. He instead begins to organize a third group of heroes, made up largely of non-powered heroes like Green Arrow and the Blue Beetle, as well as second and third generation heroes like Jade, daughter of the first Green Lantern, and Zatara, son of Zatanna and grandson of the first generation hero whose name he shares.
Lex Luthor is still alive and well, and has organized the Mankind Liberation Front. The MLF is primarily a group of Silver Age Justice League villains, including Batman foes Catwoman and the Riddler; Vandal Savage; King, leader of the Royal Flush Gang, as well as third generation villains like Ra's al Ghul's successor, Ibn al Xu'ffasch, who is Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul's son, although their relationship is understandably strained. The MLF work to wrest control of the world away from the heroes. Luthor's group also have an ace in the hole, a man the Spectre calls "the captain of the lightning and the thunder." Luthor captured Captain Marvel years earlier, and has been controlling him through the use of worms that affect Marvel's brain. The worms play upon the psychological dichotomy of the teen Batson inhabiting the adult body of the world's mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel, and resemble Mister Mind, Marvel's nemesis. Batman and his group ally themselves with Luthor's group, to better protect mankind during the impending metahuman war.
Superman's Justice League gathers more captives than converts, and his requests to build a prison safely away from humanity are refused by both Aquaman, who wants no part of the coming war to reach his undersea kingdom and Orion, who has wrested control of Apokolips from his father Darkseid, and sees the inherent flaws and inevitable collapse in Superman's plan. Superman and the League end up building the Gulag, a massive penal colony in the Kansas wastelands; security for the Gulag is designed by Scott Free, the universe's ultimate escape artist. The prison is filled to capacity almost as soon as it is built. Superman designates Captain Comet as warden and works to persuade the inmates that their methods are wrong-headed and dangerous, but his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. With hostile hero-villains like 666, Kabuki Kommando, and Von Bach locked up together, pressure builds. Meanwhile, Superman, urged on by Wonder Woman, reacts with increasing inflexibility towards the inappropriate behavior of the metahuman community. He learns that Wonder Woman's ardent militant stance may be influenced by her recent exile from Paradise Island: in the eyes of the Amazons, her mission to bring peace to the outside world has failed.
Batman and his cadre of heroes turn the tables on Luthor and the MLF. Luthor has revealed his plan to exacerbate the conflict between the League and the inmates by pitting Captain Marvel against the League, the Gulag and Superman: the ensuing chaos will afford Luthor an opportunity to seize power. Assisted by the Martian Manhunter, Batman discovers that an adult Billy Batson is under the villains' control. Batson, who becomes Captain Marvel when he utters the word "Shazam!", is the one being capable of matching Superman's power.
When the Gulag's inmates riot, killing Captain Comet, Batman's forces ambush Luthor and his conspirators. Batman is unable to restrain the brain-washed Batson, who transforms into Marvel and flies to Kansas. He opens the Gulag and unleashes chaos.
After Captain Comet's murder, Wonder Woman convinces the members of the League to use deadly force to deal with the inmates of the Gulag; Superman still objects. The Justice League clash with the bloodthirsty inmates, and Superman finds Batman and forces him to recognize that they may very well be facing the end of the world. Superman knows that Batman will act, because his entire crime-fighting life is based upon the desire to prevent the loss of human life.
Upon arriving at the Gulag, Superman and Captain Marvel battle, The Spectre and Norman look on. Although Batman's forces join the fray, aiding Superman's League in quelling the riot, he also works to restrain Superman from imposing narrow rules upon all metahumans. Batman, wearing an armored battle suit with the power of flight, comes into direct conflict with Wonder Woman, who had killed Von Bach in retaliation of his murder of Captain Comet.
As the conditions worsen, the United Nations Secretary General Wyrmwood authorizes the deployment of three tactical nuclear warheads, hardened against certain metahuman powers. While this action will destroy hero and villain alike, the UN feels it has no choice in the matter: if humanity is to survive, metahumanity must be destroyed.
An armored Batman and Wonder Woman clash in the middle of the warzone, taking to the skies, where they see the incoming Blackhawk fighter-bombers delivering the nuclear bombs. They manage to stop two of them, but the third slips past and drops its payload. Captain Marvel continues to batter Superman by using his magic lightning bolt over and over, but dodging before it hits, leaving Superman to bear the brunt of a magical lightning strike. However, as Marvel says the name again, Superman grabs him and the lightning finds its mark; Marvel turns back into Billy Batson. Holding Batson's mouth shut, Superman tells Batson that he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make an important choice: either stop Superman and allow the warhead to kill all the metahumans, or let Superman stop the bomb and allow the metahumans' war to engulf the world. Superman tells Batson he must be the one to make this decision, as he is the only one who lives in both worlds, that of normal humans (as Batson) and the metahuman community (as Marvel).
Superman releases him and flies off to stop the incoming bomb. Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor and Mr. Mind's influence, says the name, turns into Marvel, flies past Superman, and takes hold of the bomb, having found a third option. Marvel shouts "Shazam!" three more times in rapid succession, and the lightning sets off the bomb prematurely, killing Marvel in the process.
Despite Marvel's sacrifice, most of the metahumans are obliterated in the explosion, although some survive beneath a force field generated by Green Lantern and his daughter Jade, and others are teleported away at the last second by Fate. Superman, though outside the force field, is virtually untouched. His uniform torn and blackened by the lightning and the nuclear explosion, his eyes glowing red with restrained heat vision, he rises from the ashes looking more villain than hero. Enraged at the tremendous loss of life, he flies to the UN Building and threatens to bring it down atop the delegates as punishment for killing all his friends--not realizing there were survivors at this point--and reacting in such a fearful and cowardly way to the metahuman war. The surviving metahumans arrive, but Norman McCay is the one who talks him down, pointing out how his appearance and behavior are exactly the sort of reasons that normal humans fear the super-powered. Chastised and ashamed, Superman immediately ceases his rampage. He is handed Captain Marvel's cape, the only remnant of the hero, and tells the UN representatives that they will use his wisdom to guide, rather than lead, humankind. Superman ties Captain Marvel's cape to a flagpole and raises it among the flags of the member nations of the UN, suggesting that this role of guidance would be more political and global in nature than the classic crime-busting vigilantism of the past.
In the aftermath of the metahuman civil war, the heroes actively strive to become fully integrated members of the communities they had previously tried to distance themselves from. Masks are abandoned. Wonder Woman's exile from Paradise Island ends, and she becomes an ambassador for super-humanity, taking the survivors of the Gulag to Paradise Island for rehabilitation.
Batman abandons his crusade and becomes a healer, opening his mansion as a hospital to care for those wounded by the destruction of Kansas and the ensuing violence. He also reconciles with both Dick Grayson/Red Robin, and his son Ibn al Xu'ffasch. Superman lashes himself to a giant plow and begins the arduous task of restoring the Midwestern farmlands, devastated by nuclear explosions. He even comes to terms with his past as Clark Kent by accepting a pair of glasses from Wonder Woman, and shares a kiss with her before she returns to Paradise Island. It is a fitting parallel to the end of the generational conflict that started the war, as both men have come full circle in their lives and adopted the vocations of their fathers; Thomas Wayne, the doctor, and Jonathan Kent, the farmer.
Green Lantern represents superhumanity on the UN Security Council. He no longer dons his green armor, but can still use the green lantern energy.
The former leaders of the MLF are orderlies in Batman's hospital, wearing inhibitor collars which keep them under control. Luthor is reduced to emptying bedpans, and is taunted by Batman over his defeat.
Norman McCay resumes pastorship of his congregation, preaching a message of hope for humanity. Among the congregation is Jim Corrigan, the Spectre's human host. In the novelization, Clark Kent attends a sermon as well.
Collected edition additional scene
The final scene in the collected edition features Clark Kent, Diana, and Bruce Wayne meeting for a meal at Planet Krypton, a theme restaurant based upon the golden age of superheroes. Now a couple, Clark and Diana intend to inform Bruce they are expecting a child, but Bruce deduces the news before they can tell him. Diana does manage to surprise Bruce by asking him to serve as godfather and mentor to the child, whom Bruce rightly describes as potentially the most powerful in the world. He accepts after Clark states that he believes that Bruce will provide a balancing influence to the child, adding that in spite of their differences over the years he has always trusted Batman. Bruce is moved by this and they embrace.
As they leave, Plastic Man can be seen looking in through the window; his symbol also appeared on the table that the three other heroes had lunch on (implying he was the table).
They also pass a display case featuring the Sandman's effects on one wall and framed copies of Whiz Comics #2, the first appearance of Captain Marvel, and More Fun Comics #1, the first comic printed by DC, on the other. Bruce gazes thoughtfully at the two, as he exits the restaurant with Clark and Diana to begin a new era. It seems, however, that Batman's attention is more directed towards Jim Corrigan (aka The Spectre) and Norman McCay, who are also dining in the restaurant, than towards the display case — Corrigan expressing disgust at what is included in a "Spectre platter" (spinach and cottage cheese) while McCay remarks that it's flattering to be remembered at all, as Phil Sheldon (from Marvels) looks on in a wordless cameo.
In the novelization, the epilogue is slightly different, as Diana recognizes Jim as she enters with Clark. Norman convinces Jim to use his powers to help him eavesdrop on the conversation that Clark, Diana and Bruce have, even doing a spit-take from across the room when Bruce notices Diana is pregnant. The novel ends with Clark attending Norman's church one Sunday to hear his sermon on perfection in God's universe.
Although an Elseworlds tale, Kingdom Come was for all intents and purposes set in the future of the then-current mainstream DC Universe, as reflected by the general lack of explicit contradictions to characters' established continuity at that time (unlike Ross' later series Justice) that are the cornerstone of most Elseworlds titles. This included ensuring that characters who were dead in DCU at the time of publication (e.g. Barry Allen, Hal Jordan and Jason Todd) remained so, as well as conforming to the post-Crisis mix of originally segregated characters from the Golden and Silver Ages, as well as characters from companies acquired by DC such as Captain Marvel all co-existing in the same reality. Other subtle indicators were used such as portraying Hawkman in a fashion consistent with his post-Zero Hour "Hawk-god" form, and Superman having long hair in flashbacks, as he did in the mid-90s. Whether this implicit adherence to 1996 DCU continuity in the creation of Kingdom Come's extrapolated future was the result of elective choice on the part of the authors or via editorial mandate is unknown.
Many developments in the DC Universe in the ensuing decade, such as the death of Ted Kord for example, have essentially invalidated Kingdom Come's status as a potential future of the mainstream DC Universe, as was indicated in the then-canonical but now likely apocryphal (in the wake of Infinite Crisis) sequel The Kingdom.
Superman's Justice League
Many of the members of the re-formed Justice League are either old characters in new forms or brand new adoptions of old names. Partial list:
- Superman: The leader of the League and a graying Man of Steel that is growing uneasy with the role of being a world leader during a time of extreme tension. Due to a lifetime of absorbing yellow-solar radiation, he is more powerful than ever, and is even immune to kryptonite.
- Wonder Woman: Superman's lieutenant is being slowly consumed by an inner rage directed at the state of the world and her exile from Paradise Island. Her fellow Amazons have deemed her mission to bring peace to 'man's world' a failure. At the conclusion, she is restored her royal station as Princess, but eschews the ambassadorial role of "Wonder Woman", leaving it to other Amazons. (In the novelization, Cressida becomes the new Wonder Woman.)
- Red Robin: Dick Grayson, the first Robin, has replaced Batman on the Justice League.
- Flash: After melding with the Speed Force, the Flash's molecules have become unstable and as a result, he is constantly in motion. Waid later confirmed this Flash to be Wally West in The Kingdom.
- Green Lantern: Ending his vigil among the stars, Alan Scott returns to Earth and joins Superman's crusade. He needs no power ring, having incorporated the lantern that fueled the ring into his armor. At the conclusion, he becomes a UN charter member under the nation of "New Oa".
- Hawkman: Now a literal 'hawk-man', Carter has become a guardian of nature. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Donna Troy: Seen wearing Amazon robes, it is possible the former Wonder Girl may have replaced her sister/mentor Wonder Woman as Paradise Island's ambassador to the world. She has also aged considerably compared to Diana: going slightly grey and putting on weight. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Red Arrow: The former Speedy and Arsenal is now following in the footsteps of his mentor, the Green Arrow, down to a mustache, goatee and exact copy of Green Arrow's costume, but in red. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Aquaman: Garth, the former Aqualad, now the inheritor of his mentor's mantle as Aquaman. He wears a variation of his 'Aqualad' costume, but sports a beard and long pants. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- King Marvel and Lady Marvel are now married and have a superpowered son named The Whiz, who is also a member of this League.
- Aleea Strange: Adam Strange's daughter, who has taken up her father's mantle.
- Power Woman: The former Power Girl. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Robotman: The former Cyborg.
- Red Tornado: A heavily armed Mathilda Hunkel.
- Human Bomb: A explosion causing metahuman.
- Midnight: The ghost of Mid-Nite, appearing in the form of a smoke-cloud.
- Captain Comet: He is chosen by Superman to be warden of the Gulag. He is killed in a prison riot, and according to the novelization, it is by Von Bach.
- Bulletman and Bulletgirl: The successors of the original golden age duo.
- Brainiac's Daughter: Brainiac's offspring and the ancestor of Brainiac 5.
- Red Tornado A new Red Tornado.
- Starman: The former Star Boy.
- Golden Guardian: The second clone of Jim Harper, who took up his predecessor's role.
- Hourman: The successors of the first two Hourmen, not having his predecessor's time limit
- Sandman: Formerly Sandy, the Golden Boy, then Sand, he's taken up the mantle of Sandman after his mentor, Wesley Dodds, died.
- Living Doll: The daughter of Doll Man and Doll Girl.
- Tornado: The ghost of the Tornado Champion.
- Avia: The daughter of Mister Miracle and Big Barda. In the novelization, she and her parents survive through a boom tube, thanks to her father's uncanny foresight.
- Atom Smasher: The godson of Atom. The name "Atom Smasher" was coined in Kingdom Come; during the time of the book's publishing he was still known as Nuklon.
- Ray: Son of the first Ray. He is responsible for removing the radiation from Kansas, twice.
- Power Man: An android programmed by Superman.
- Phoebus: Earth's newest fire elemental after Firestorm.
Batman has formed a group of metahumans, similar to his Outsiders many of which are second-generation heroes, to combat the Justice League and the Mankind Liberation Front. Playing upon the generational differences between the heroes, five of his heroes are the children of the original Teen Titans, while the Titans have all sided with Superman. Partial list:
- Batman: Since his real identity was made public, the Batman no longer hides behind the carefree appearance of Bruce Wayne; as a result, Wayne Manor was destroyed by Two-Face and Bane. In fact, he is referred to as "The Batman" even in civilian guise and does not bother with the cape and cowl until the final battle. No longer the example of human perfection, he now requires an exoskeleton to move and uses robots and a battle suit to continue his war on crime. His distrust of both Superman and Luthor leads him to form the Outsiders. He objects to both the League and the MLF's plans for making a better world, feeling mankind should be able to make its own decisions and mistakes.
- Ibn al Xu'ffasch: The son of Batman and Talia al Ghul, the heir to Ra's al Ghul's criminal organization, and used as a mole to infiltrate Luthor's MLF. His role is not fully revealed until the third issue (p. 144 in the graphic novel), when he is standing among the Outsiders just before Zatara teleports Batman to the Batcave.
- Oliver Queen: One of Batman's partners, he has married his long-time love Dinah Lance, Black Canary, and the two have a daughter, Olivia Queen, who also operates as Black Canary. According to the novel, he was killed in the nuclear blast. His skeleton can be seen on page 187, directly to the left of Superman, still cradling his wife.
- Dinah Queen: One of Batman's operatives, she now wields a bow like her husband Green Arrow. She was among the fatalities in the Gulag battle, with one panel showing Green Arrow holding her body in his arms after she was accidentally shot in the head by the metahuman Trix. In the novelization, she dies in Queen's arms during the blast.
- Blue Beetle: Ted Kord, one of Batman's operatives, who now wears a Blue Beetle armored battle suit powered by the mystical scarab that gave the first Blue Beetle his powers. Kord is also killed in the nuclear blast.
- J'onn J'onzz: Once the Martian Manhunter, he has become a shell of his former self and can no longer control his powers. He tried to touch all humanity's mind at once and could not handle the torrents of hate, love, anger, sadness and joy. A shattered spirit, he maintains a permanently non-corporeal human form at all times now and does not participate in any super heroics until Batman persuades him to help one last time. His body - in his classic costume - is seen lying on the ground during the final battle at the Gulag, which is hard to understand, as his demise is shown a few pages before Batman's "Silent Cavalry", implying that Martian Manhunter had paradoxally been defeated at the gulag even before he even arrived where he was defeated.
- Kid Flash is the daughter of Wally West. According to the novel, she was among those killed by the nuclear blast. However, she appears in The Kingdom, as well as in The Flash (in the "Chain Lightning" arc) due to Hypertime.
- Darkstar: Son of Donna Troy, who has taken her place as Earth's Darkstar.
- Obsidian: Son of Alan Scott and brother to Jennie-Lynn Hayden. He manipulates shadows and darkness. His appearance resembles that of The Shadow.
- Tula: A sea-faring malcontent. Daughter of Aquaman and Deep Blue. In the novelization, she is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Steel: After Superman went into seclusion, Steel switched his devotion to Batman. He now wields an iron bat-shaped battle axe.
- Wildcat: A man-panther with the spirit of the first (presumably Ted Grant).
- Zatara: The son of the late Zatanna and John Constantine, and grandson of Giovanni Zatara. Besides being a magician, he's inherited his father's ability to see the dead. According to the novel, he was so horrified by the nuclear blast that he was unable to use his magic to escape.
- Nightstar: The daughter of Dick Grayson and Starfire. She has inherited her mother's powers and abilities, but decides not to join her father in the Justice League. Effectively Batman's adoptive granddaughter, she becomes close to his natural son Ibn al Xu'ffasch.
- Menagerie: Formerly Beast Boy, whose power is now limited to imaginary creatures.
- Nucloid: A elastic superhero with a nuclear core.
- Huntress: An African superheroine based on Paula Brooks.
- Cossack: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Russia.
- Ace: An alien Bat-Hound, the giant winged steed of the Fourth World Batwoman.
- Batwoman: A Batman admirer from the Fourth World.
- Samurai: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of Japan.
- Dragon: A member of The Batmen Of Many Nations, the Champion of China.
- Creeper: Though he has aged, he is still the insane screwball he was when he was young. In the novelization, he switches sides several times during the Gulag battle, and is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Thunder: The daughter of Black Lightning.
- Condor: The last Black Condor
- Ralph Dibny: The former Elongated Man, Ralph is contorted out of shape.
- Spy Smasher: A independent agent, in a post Cold War era.
- Phantom Lady: A literal phantom of the original version.
- Red Hood: The daughter of Red Arrow and mercenary Cheshire.
- Fate: Nabu is able to channel his consciousness through the Helm and Cloak without the need for a host body.
- Green Lantern: Jade took up the mantle of Green Lantern after Kyle Rayner.
- Mister Scarlet: A bright red devil of a man known for hanging out at Titans Tower bar with Matrix, the new Joker's Daughter, and the new Thunder.
- Bat-Knights: Batman's robotic guardians of Gotham City. At the end of the graphic novel, they are painted white and used as air filtration units when Wayne Manor is turned into a hospital/hospice.
Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front
Since Superman's departure ten years ago, Luthor and the MLF have been conducting events behind the scenes in an attempt to destroy metahumans and rule the world at last.
- Lex Luthor: The MLF's leader. Goes into mad fits whenever mention is made of Superman. He ends up working in Wayne Manor, tending to victims of the Gulag battle.
- Captain Marvel: Luthor's brainwashed houseboy and the last step in his plan for destroying Superman and the League. Killed by deliberately setting off the nuclear bomb prematurely over Ground Zero.
- Vandal Savage: The only willing member of the MLF with any powers to speak of: immortality. In the novelization, Spectre expresses deep annoyance at the fact Savage's immortality prevents him from administering justice on the Cro-Magnon. Savage, like Luthor, assists with victims of the battle.
- Catwoman: The only female member of the MLF, having become wealthy from running a cosmetics corporation.
- Riddler: There only as a courtesy to Catwoman (the novelization calls him one of Catwoman's "accessories"), and tends to get under Luthor's skin. At the end he is seen sitting next to Catwoman in Wayne Manor, taking care of a victim of the Gulag battle.
- Kobra: A cult leader.
- King of the Royal Flush Gang: The MLF's newest member, and, like Savage, is also immortal.
- Red, White, and Blue: Three heavily armed terrorists. They are actually androids under Luthor's control who are used as spies in the Gulag.
The superheroes of the future have virtually no regard for human life. Many of them were killed in the Gulag battle, but most have already made their mark in the world as monsters. Listed below are the major, supporting, or otherwise notable characters.
- Magog: Ironically referred to as the new 'Man of Tomorrow'. His first act as a hero (shown in a flashback sequence) was the very public killing of the Joker. The Joker had been arrested for the murder of 92 men and one woman (Lois Lane being the woman) at the Daily Planet, but was expected to be ruled criminally insane, and thus not responsible. When the Joker was being led in to the courthouse for his competency hearing, Magog ran in and blasted a hole through his chest, killing him instantly. Magog then surrendered to Superman. Put on trial for murder, with Superman testifying for the prosecution, Magog was acquitted. Superman, appalled at the seeming endorsement of lethal vigilantism, went into self-imposed exile. Magog and the composite Metal Men hero Alloy were the only survivors of the Justice Battalion, and at least partially responsible for the destruction of Kansas, for which Magog later seeks forgiveness. At the end of Kingdom Come, Magog lives on Paradise Island, and is seen disciplining Swastika, having finally seen the need for self restraint. In the novelization, he matures to the point of becoming a Dean of Students there.
- Von Bach: A Yugoslavian would-be dictator who speaks in German. He was imprisoned in the Gulag for killing opponents who had already surrendered. After being humiliated by Captain Comet during his incarceration, he made Comet the first fatality of the prison riot by breaking his neck. He was then killed by Wonder Woman during the Gulag battle to stop him from killing Zatara. Von Bach is modeled after Milan Fras, the singer of the Slovenian experimental music group Laibach.
- 666: A gothic looking man/machine hybrid with little respect for the heroes of the past and is one of the major prisoners inside of the gulag. 666 battles other metahumans not for justice, but for sport. Visually based on Brian Azzarello. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- NIL-8: A superpowered robot, whose name is a homophone for "annihilate".
- Joker's Daughter/Harlequin: A riot girl and one of the many followers of the Joker's style. This one has no relation to the other four Harlequins, Duela Dent, or Harley Quinn. She was one of the survivors of the Gulag Battle. After the battle, she lived on Paradise Island with most of the other survivors, and appeared to have tattooed a tear shape under her left eye. Modeled after Scary Godmother writer Jill Thompson. She survives the nuclear blast, protected by Green Lantern, and is last seen at Paradise Island.
- Thunder: A new Johnny Thunder with the mischievous spirit of Thunderbolt, he was one of the survivors of the Gulag battle. Can shoot lightning from his fingers. His eyes glow continuously. He survives, and is last seen on Paradise Island.
- Catwoman: The armored metahuman successor to Selina Kyle, this one might be more feline than the original.
- Manotaur: A minotaur-like metahuman. In the novelization, he, too, becomes a teacher at Paradise Island, a fitting fate for "one whose ancestors bedevilled the Amazons long ago."
- The Americommando and the Minutemen: A group of savage patriots who started killing the huddled masses of immigrants near the Statue of Liberty. The Minutemen were controlled by the mysterious Brain Trust.
- Trix (after Matrix): a morphing biomechanism. Near the end of the series, she accidentally shoots Dinah Lance (Black Canary) in the head during the Gulag riot. She survives, and is last seen on Paradise Island..
- Captain Atom: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion. His death/detonation at the hands of the villain Parasite, and the irradiation of Kansas this caused, is what causes Superman to return to action.
- Judomaster: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion. She was apparently killed with the other members when Captain Atom was killed.
- Mr. Terrific: The successor of Mister Terrific with oversized guns, shoulder pads, and other military accoutrements. He still sported the "Fair Play" logo, but has since lost sight of its true and original meanings. In the novelization, he is killed in the nuclear blast.
- Alloy: The combined form of the Metal Men, a member of Magog's Justice Battalion. He protects Magog from being killed in Captain Atom's detonation, but his fate is unknown. According to the novelization, white hot shards of him are found on the scene, so it is presumed he died in the process. However, in the graphic novel he can be seen participating in the Gulag battle. It is possible he is the giant corpse with the melted appearance seen after the nucler explosion.
- Stars: an African-American street kid wearing a leather jacket with an American flag bandana, and a T-shirt with an inverted American flag, using the cosmic rod in conjunction with the cosmic converter belt.
- Stripes: Equipped with various military acoutrements such as automatic weaponry, knives and kevlar padding.
- Thunderbolt: A member of Magog's Justice Battalion, killed when Captain Atom explodes.
- Peacemaker: a member of Magog's Justice Battalion, he wears an outfit reminiscent of Boba Fett's. He perishes when Captain Atom detonates.
- Demon Damsel: Would-be Legionnaire.
- Nightshade: a member of Magog's Justice Battalion who dies when Captain Atom explodes.
- Blue Devil: A winged, indigo-skinned demon from Hell.
- King Crimson: Gigantic, red-skinned demon with a Sun symbol on its chest.
- Vigilante: A half-man, half-robot cowboy with a machine gun arm.
- Tokyo Rose: A Japanese martial arts assassin. She survives the nuclear blast when she is saved by Magog.
- Arthur Curry: Arthur has given up the mantle of Aquaman and dedicated himself fully to his role as monarch of Atlantis. He is approached by Wonder Woman to use the oceans as the location of the Gulag, but refuses to accept anymore of the surface-world's problems despite his support of Garth's new role as Aquaman.
- Orion: Orion appears in the collected edition of KC, in pages Ross added to the collection. Orion has killed his father Darkseid and taken his place as ruler of Apokolips. He attempted to bring democracy to Apokolips, but was unanimously elected by the fearful slave-minded lowlies. In the novelization, Orion hints that he recruited Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and Mikhail Gorbachev to help him run a fair election, but failed.
- Deadman: He has lost or foregone his normal appearance, and appears as a skeleton wearing his Deadman uniform. He is never identified as "Deadman", and simply introduces himself as "Boston". In the novelization, he explains why none of the Quintessence (comprised of Shazam, Ganthet, The Phantom Stranger, Zeus, Highfather and Spectre) will get involved - the situation almost always turns for the worse, using Zeus' intervention with Troy as an example. (Spectre posits that the Quintessence meet to prevent one another from intervening.)
- Spectre: The Spectre takes Norman McCay through the events of a possible future, his aim to determine who is responsible for an impending apocalyptic event. However, his "faculties are not what they once were," and he needs a human perspective to properly judge events. In conversation with McCay, Deadman mentions that Spectre had become further and further removed from humanity over time; and, aside from his cloak, he is also naked (an attitude similar to that of Doctor Manhattan from the classic graphic novel Watchmen). The Spectre is convinced by McCay to try to see things through the perspective of his human host, and, as Jim Corrigan, he can be seen in the congregation of McCay's church at the end of the story, as well as at the Planet Krypton restaurant, visibly upset the dish named after him, "the Spectre Platter", is a mild concoction of spinach and cottage cheese.
- Parasite: Contrary to his usual persona, Parasite is portrayed as an unstable villain with severe short-term memory loss problems, and a coward. He literally "splits the Atom" when he makes contact with Captain Atom, causing a super-nuclear explosion that destroys Kansas.
- Phil Sheldon: Phil Sheldon from Ross' Marvels makes a cameo appearance in the epilogue.
Appearances in mainstream continuity
Due to the popularity of the series, Mark Waid and Alex Ross began to plot a sequel and prequel. Alex Ross' concept of Gog, mentor of Magog, is an alien from the original "super world" that split to create Apokolips and New Genesis. Because he came from a super planet, Gog is twice as large as a normal human. Waid and Ross disagreed on several concepts and Ross decided to leave the project.Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross
Without Ross' involvement, Waid continued the story in New Year's Evil: Gog. The Kingdom soon followed, featuring a two-part series, and several one-shots focusing on specific characters. The series was used to present Grant Morrison's hypertime concept.
"Thy Kingdom Come"
The final issue of 52 reveals that Earth-22 is the designation of the Kingdom Come alternate universe.
In Justice Society of America, a new Starman appears wearing a costume identical to that of his Kingdom Come counterpart. Due to a time-machine error, Starman traveled to Earth-22 before arriving in the present time-stream.
The "Thy Kingdom Come" story arc of the JSA title features the involvement of Alex Ross, as well as the appearance of the Kingdom Come Superman. Barring additional story information for the moment, it appears as if the events of the final issue of the original mini-series take place concurrently with the "present-day" events of "New Earth" at the time of publication of the JSA story arc.
A boxed-set of the four individual issues was released within a cardboard framework, and included an exclusive trading card.
The original trade paperback collected the entire series along with twelve additional pages by Ross, including the epilogue. Promotional artwork and sketches of the major characters were also included. The trade was also printed as a hardback (without dustjacket) by Graphitti Designs.
A separate deluxe, slip-cased two-volume hardback edition, also co-published by DC and Graphitti Designs added a second volume (entitled "Revelations") to the text, containing further sketches and developmental artwork from Ross, showing the development of the character designs and the storyline.
Elliot S. Maggin wrote the novelization which was published by Warner Aspect as a hardback, and (in limited numbers) a slip-cased, signed edition. It fleshes out characters such as Magog, the world leaders, and the Batman/Ib'n connection. The book contains four new color pages by Ross, as well as four black and white sketches of the major players.
A 1998 special from Wizard magazine contained the original proposal for the series by Ross, providing notes on what was changed and why. Ross' comments on The Kingdom were also included.
DC released a Absolute Kingdom Come hardcover in 2006. It collected the entire series in a wider page format, along with interviews with Waid and Ross, character artwork, sketches and a complete annotation for the series.
DC also released an audio dramatization of the series featuring the voice talent of Mike Mearian, Don Peoples, Garet Scott, John Cunningham, Kent Broadhurst, Jeff David, Chuck Cooper, Harry Goz, Barbara Rosenblat, Craig Zakarian, Mike Arkin, Bob Lydiard, Peter Newman, Birgit Darby, Mark Finley, Igot Goldin, Macintyre Dixon, and Chloe Patellis, along with the guest voices of Dennis O'Neil, Mark Waid, Mike Carlin, Dan Raspler, Charles Kochman, Peter Tomasi, Greg Ross, Janet Harney, Elisabeth Vincentelli.
The Comicology Kingdom Come Companion
In January, 1999, Harbor Press published the first (special) issue of their comics magazine Comicology. The 272-page Comicology: Kingdom Come Companion, edited by Brian Lamken, focused heavily on Kingdom Come, featuring an A-Z of almost everything with extensive illustrations by Ross and various other commentary on the mini-series. It was the subject of a swift cease-and-desist notice from DC, objecting that the volume "constituted an unauthorized derivative work that infringed upon DC's copyrights, violates their trademark rights, and misappropriates their good will."Sequential Tart's Article on the Comicology matter. Lamken acquiesced to the recall, despite protesting that DC had prior knowledge of the project. It is likely that the similarities between the material contained in the Revelations Volume available only with the purchase of the considerably-more-expensive Graphitti/DC two-volume set contributed to the recall of the Comicology volume. The recall made the Companion arguably the most difficult Kingdom Come item to find,
In 1996, Fleer/Skybox released a set of trading cards based on Kingdom Come, entitled Kingdom Come eXtra. Alongside the 50 basic cards, featuring art by Ross and text by Waid, there are 15 "sketchboard" cards, 3 "Kingdom Classics" (featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in iconic poses), 6 "Alex Ross Original" cards, and some rarer autograph cards.
DC Direct (The exclusive collectibles division of DC Comics) has produced 3 waves of action figures based on Kingdom Come's artwork. The first wave of figures included Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Hawkman. The second wave included Batman, Red Robin, Captain Marvel and Kid Flash. The last wave included Magog, Flash, Armored Wonder Woman and Deadman. An exclusive figure of Red Arrow was released through ToyFare magazine. DC Direct also released several other characters through their Elseworlds toylines. These figures included The Spectre, Norman McCay, Jade, Nightstar, Aquaman and Blue Beetle.
- The Kingdom - a sequel by Mark Waid and multiple artists set in a continuity similar to that of Kingdom Come.
Other Versions & Allusions
A roster of Kingdom Come characters make cameo appearances in Justice League Adventures #20. The Psycho Pirate hallucinates battles with three various superhero teams, including one containing Supergirl, Kid Flash, Red Arrow, Jade and Red Robin as they appeared in Kingdom Come. Psycho Pirate comic page
The fight between Superman and Captain Marvel, in which Captain Marvel struck Superman with magical lightning, is used in the Justice League Unlimited episode The Clash.