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My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

kingdom_come_multi_editions

Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

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Magog #1 [Review]

Lethal Force

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Hi-Fi Designs
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Assoc. Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Glenn Fabry (variant by Porter & Dell)
Publisher: DC Comics

I was rather surprised at this issue. I almost passed on it, figuring the character to not be something I’m interested in following long-term. But I gave it a shot, and I’m pretty much glad I did.

We open on a scene that provides us with some exposition–who Magog is, his recent past and what he’s about. We also see him into action with a couple pages that were seen originally in the “preview” in the back of a bunch of DC’s books a few weeks back, showing the more military/black ops side of Magog as the soldier. What he finds there leads him back to his current home and to confrontation with the JSA. After an exchange with Alan Scott, and an introduction to supporting cast members, we see Magog back into action. He’s currently the agent of the JSA who can or WILL get his hands dirty in ways the others can’t or won’t. Magog is not a super-hero; he’s a metahuman in a world of super-heroes, but he’s a soldier. (It would be interesting to see Magog interact with The Shield, come to think of it!).

Storywise, this issue is largely setup and contextualization. It does a good job of that–bringing one up to speed on the basics of the character, putting into place a supporting cast and status quo.

The art is high quality…I really like the visual style we’re presented with here. It’s not totally some grim ‘n gritty visual, but it’s not bright, hopeful and flashy, either. It feels very down-to-earth, and appropriate for the title character.

While this Magog is not the exact same character introduced in Kingdom Come nearly a decade-and-a-half ago, the similarities are there in tone as well as name and costume. One could envision this character developing into that one, but the differences are what add a layer of interest. Differences…or simply more information and insight into the individual…giving him depth rather than being a plot-point in someone else’s story.

Giffen seems to have a good handle on this character, and though I’m not entirely ready to “commit” to this series, I’m sufficiently hooked for at least another issue to see if the magic holds beyond this premiere issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

The Brave and the Bold #23 [Review]

Shadows of Tomorrow

Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens
Finished Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Jurgens, Rapmund, and Tom Chu
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s been a long time since I picked up any issues of this series–it’s one that seemed to have a promising concept, but just didn’t strike me as “mattering” all that much, and so I didn’t keep up beyond the first couple issues and a random issue or two I’ve scored from a bargain bin. This issue is one in which the cover was extremely influential–far, far moreso than most comics (since I usually walk into the store already having decided what I’m going to buy).

This one I saw on the shelf, and the combination of the cover image and the characters being put together (Booster Gold & Magog) made for something I was actually interest in checking out. The cover image of a grim Magog–shadowed face, angry-Booster reflected in his armor–reminds me a bit of that classic Wolverine vs. Hulk cover (whether it was intended to or not). I’ve enjoyed the most recent incarnation of the Booster Gold series, and his post-52 status quo has been interesting and really done a lot for the character in my mind–giving him a lot more purpose and credibility. And given the events at the tail end of the Thy Kingdom Come epic in Justice Society, I’m quite interested in seeing how the “new” Magog is handled, as there’s more to this version of the character than what had been running around the DCU for much of the past decade.

This issue opens with Booster and Skeets racing to the time lab in response to alarms, and finding mentor/leader Rip Hunter materializing, apparently in battle with someone. Working the Time Platform, they isolate Rip, bringing him back without his assailant…but with a scrap of a Superman costume from another time/world. When Rip forbids Booster from investigating Magog’s future (the assailant), Booster decides he can at least begin researching Magog in the present. Booster’s investigation leads to an encounter with Magog where the two–with vastly different methods–attend to a hostage situation and terrorists.

On the whole, this issue really felt like an issue of Booster Gold. Jurgens and Rapmund on writing/art are quite familiar to me recently for their work on the Booster Gold title. That said, the art for this issue is quite enjoyable–the visuals by this creative team make for my favorite depiction of Booster & co., and the take on Magog leaves me with no problems, either.

The story, too, felt like (despite being a single-issue/on-off tale) it really belongs in an issue of Booster Gold (and would have been a perfect filler in place of what we got in Booster Gold #20. As the creator of the character, Jurgens knows the character and supporting cast, and seems to have a good grasp of what makes for a good story with them. He also adds some depth to Magog, and sets up what could be an interesting relationship between Booster and Magog, given the nature of the characters and time travel.

This seems a great issue to snag for a single-issue enjoyable read. It doesn’t seem to be directly continued from any prior cliffhanger, and it leaves on a satisfying ending that does not require one to jump right into the next issue for a cliffhanger’s resolution. As a one-shot, regularly-priced ($2.99) comic, this is easily the best comic of the week for me.

Highly recommended for readers of Booster Gold, or fans of either character.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

Justice Society of America #22 [Review]

One World, Under Gog part VII: Thy Will Be Done

Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencilers: Dale Eaglesham
Painted pages by: Alex Ross
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Eaglesham & Hi-Fi)
Very special Thanks to: Mark Waid
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue wraps up the ongoing “Thy Kingdom Come” saga in this title. This issue jumps a lot, beginning with the JSA doing their thing with Gog while Superman and Starman have a few moments together before the former is sent “home.” The rest of the team deals with the effects of the loss of the “gifts” that Gog had bestowed, and the issue ends with a slight twist on the signature Johns end-of-saga look-ahead.

The art on this story was just what I’ve come to expect for the book. It’s high quality and yet looks like a comic book. There are also painted panels/sequences interspersed done by Ross that as usual are top-notch. While it’s a bit jarring to go from one style to the other, I for one would not trade it–it’s great to see the “Kingdom Come” world done by Ross–it lends a certain authenticity to the world, as well as a bit of a notion of things coming full-circle.

The story aspect of this issue is also quite good. There’s not a lot of “conflict-action” in the issue, as it seems largely about tying up loose ends and capping off this huge saga. A number of characters get “moments” that kinda set their status quo post-saga, showing us where they are at right now, moving forward.

After just over a year–12 prior issues, 1 annual and 3 specials–the saga concludes in this single standard-sized issue for $2.99. No extra-sized, extra-priced issue; no spinning off to another title or special for the actual conclusion; no weaseling in a virtual “to-be-continued” to get one buying even more books.

We have high quality art, solid high quality story, and a fitting conclusion to all the events. The story is capped here, though it by no means slams the door or leaves stuff closed. The scenes of Earth-22 prompted me to grab the original Kingdom Come story–I was curious if there was “recycled art,” but no–the words were the same, but the angles different…and something about the way it was done, I thought it was fantastic. (It was also quite classy that Mark Waid is thanked in the credits, as so much has been built upon his original story).

This really is not an issue for new readers–new readers can probably pick this up and appreciate it in general, but this issue is very much for the long-term readers who have followed this story, and is quite the reward for doing so. Of the comics I picked up this week, this was by far my favorite.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom [Review]

The Kingdom

Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inkers: Mick Gray, Jack Purcell, Norm Rapmund & Fernando Pasarin
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Earth-2 Pin-Up: Jerry Ordway
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Fernando Pasarin)
Publisher: DC Comics

The main thrust of this issue follows several JSAers as they react to Gog’s “gifts”–reactions both positive and negative. Damage is very much in support of Gog–who, after all, healed his face. Others point out that Gog sent Power Girl to an Earth 2 where she was hunted as a traitor, and we see Dr. Mid-Nite and Sand both dealing with the negative repercussions to their being “cured” of what had seemed on the surface to be a curse. As “war” breaks out within the JSA, it appears that Gog might finally tip his hand, as we approach “The Seventh Day” which may or may not usher in–through Gog–the end of the world.

There’s a lot going on in this issue, and a lot of characters juggled. While it’s easy enough to lose track of everyone, Johns still manages to keep things engaging by focusing on several characters and let us see their arcs unfold in context of the larger whole. What began with the apparently simple premise a year ago of “Kingdom Come Superman arrives on New Earth” has become a lengthy, enjoyable epic that has drawn me back to the Justice Society and made the team a favorite. This is a story that will likely go down as one of the definitive Justice Society runs.

The art is–for the most part–well-suited to the story. There are a few points where characters appear a bit “off” (one panel has Superman looking like he ate too many burritos too quickly)…but as a whole, no significant complaint art wise. It’s easy to follow visually, and none of the characters seem unrecognizeable.

I’ve enjoyed these specials. While a bit pricey–both cover price, and simply by their very existence at all–I think they make for a great addition to the JSA narrative, and allow for far more than we could get with just the core title alone. It is unfortunate, though, as we have important events in these that are certainly key to the overall story, such that if one wants the full story they are essential and one will have missed a great deal reading “only” the core JSA title.

There’s a double-page pinup-style spread of the Earth-2 Justice Society included–I’m not sure I “get” exactly why it’s included…but it’s a cool little “moment” of that team sitting for team photo…there’s a lot going on in that one image that says a lot about the characters without dialogue needed…it would make a great poster.

All in all, a good package that–despite the higher cover price–feels like something special and important,and is worth the money paid. You could do so much worse by way of out-of-core-title tie-in specials in a major story.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

JSA Kingdom Come Special: Magog [Review]

Thy Kingdom Come – Magog: The Real Me

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Dale Eaglesham & Mark McKenna)
Publisher: DC Comics

We get a look at the new (true?) Magog in this issue–the former marine known to the JSA as Lance Corporal David Reid. Reid was recently “killed” but immediately ressurrected by the entity known as Gog, and seems to be Superman’s worst fear come true, a sign of his “history” repeating itself. The story takes a break here to follow Reid/Magog to some old comrades, allowing for flashbacks to fill us in on his past and what they meant to him. As Reid lashes out at those who captured his old friends, he becomes more like the Magog known to readers of Kingdom Come.

The story is pretty straight-forward, and nicely fleshes out the David Reid character, filling in details hinted at but not fully revealed. We get the background to his motivation, and what makes him what he is at present. This adds depth not only to him, but to the Magog we know from Kingdom Come…and gives cause to see Reid’s potential here.

Once more I’m unfamiliar with the artist, so I have no point of comparison on quality. However, in terms of this story I have no complaint. The visuals follow the story, and there’s a nice level of detail that does not disappoint. The visual style is very much that of a super-hero comic book…showing Magog as a recognizeable figure, but distinctly contrasted with Alex Ross’s rendition as seen on the cover–like comparing a live-action product with the comic adaptation.

We’re also treated to a back-up story, focusing on:

The Secret Origin of Starman

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Lettering: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain

This back-up story fills us in on the origin of this latest Starman as well as his costume. The art is a real treat…no complaint there, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s also cool to see well ahead time that for however it’ll play into Final Crisis, that Legion of 3 Worlds has some bearing on how we got this version of Starman. I find it interesting the “mythology” I’m beginning to really notice with Starman, the way the various people to use the Star- name are linked…something quite enjoyable.

This backup does feel almost like it was crammed in, though…rushed to explain stuff before the overall Thy Kingdom Come / Gog story(ies) finish. Almost segmented TO get the information told where there may not be room in the main JSA series or even these specials to tell it otherwise.

On the whole, this was another strong issue, giving further background of major players in the Gog saga as we head (presumably) toward its conclusion soon.

I’m not sure this is essential to the story, but if you’re diggin’ the story and are interested in more about Magog and Starman and how they play into the ongoing saga, this issue’s worth picking up despite the higher price tag (justified, I suppose, by this being a special and not just a regular issue of a series).

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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