It's been over a year since I last sang the praises of DC's Kingdom Come, and in that year, three things have happened that marginally justify my singing its praises again:
1. Batman: Dark Knight did boffo business at the box office and caused a tsunami of geek-gasms all over the known world, and it accomplished these things mainly by being smart, stylish, largely faithful to its comics inspiration, and most of all not exceedingly dumb. That, plus the surprise success of Iron Man (and the lesser but still entirely respectable success of The Incredible Hulk) and the ongoing blossoming of sci-fi on TV and cable, has further eroded the ages-old preconception of comics (and graphic novels) as inherently trite, unworthy reading material fit only for pimply prom-rejects and mouth-breathing virgins. Put simply, more people are willing to read a graphic novel in 2008 than were willing to do so in 2007.
2. The basic premise of Kingdom Come, a dystopian world on the brink of dark and sucking chaos, has never looked more similar to our own world than now, with international terrorism and violence matched recently by the burgeoning collapse of the world economy. In Kingdom Come, virtuous everyman preacher Norman McCay sees visions of a looming apocalypse, the fate of the world teetering on the outcome of a fateful battle between good and evil. In the real world, a presidential election is about to be held that increasingly seems to represent exactly that scenario, and in that battle between good and evil, to quote Dr. "Bones" McCoy, "Evil usually wins ... unless good is very, very careful."
and 3. It has a cool new cover! Alex Ross found an extra fifteen minutes, whipped up a nifty fold-out cover showing our heroes gathered around their conference table (with the villains neatly caught in the reflection), and pocketed what was no doubt a much-needed $50,000. Surely a new cover is sufficient grounds to praise this book again, especially since it'll be a while (or maybe never) before DC brings out any kind of paperback version of the deluxe hardcover I praised back in 2007.
And the cover might be new, but everything inside is just as wonderful and stirring as ever: the whip-crack pacing, the great treatment of our iconic core cast, and even the book's dedication to Christopher Reeve, which brings an even greater lump to the throat when you realize he was alive when the dedication was first made. I can only hope he read enough of the book itself to be proud of the dedication (it goes without saying he would have instinctively pictured himself in the movie-role of the older, more jaded Superman ... as it is, who knows who we'll see in the movie that, after Dark Knight, is sure to be made someday?), and I can likewise hope all of you who haven't yet read this book (ahem ...) will take this totally spurious opportunity to do so. You won't be sorry.