Kingdom Come is one of, if not THE most important comic book events of the 1990s. If you haven’t read it, you really need to. It is a highlight in about the middle of the writing resume of comic book legend Mark Waid and quite possibly the most impressive artistic endeavor of painter Alex Ross’s entire career. It features a dystopian future DC Universe on the brink of absolute destruction as heroes are fighting one another and the forces of light and the forces of dark are completely blurred. It has religion. It has politics. It has a (somewhat) less grumpy version of Batman. Oh, and it also features a bad ass character who does the unthinkable in the DCU and flat-out executes the Joker in front of a bunch of the media after his latest murder spree. His name was Magog.
But who was he?
Initially, he was just sort of a joke. An inside joke who looked really awesome and did some pretty sweet stuff, but a joke nonetheless. But what Waid and Ross created as a send-up of the “gritty” Marvel Comics attitude of the 1990s slowly became a legitimate and quite popular character. Popular enough, in fact, to be brought out of the Elseworlds miniseries and into the DCU proper. The guy joined the Justice Society of America and even had his own short-lived ongoing series, if you can believe that!
He was a direct descendant of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a decorated war hero, and the epitome of an ultra-violent shoot first, ask questions never anti-hero. That was about it. He wasn’t the hero we wanted, but he was the hero that we all would probably be if we were forced to live a super-powered life in a world where Batman keeps arresting everyone after they kill people and Superman keeps being a boy scout whenever anyone questions the ineffectiveness of the Justice League. In a sense, he was basically X-Force’s Cable.
Don’t believe me? Well, Mark Waid said it to Alex Ross when the two were deciding on how to create the Punisheresque dude who was going to inadvertently cause a nuclear holocaust with the combined forces of blatant disregard for heroism, misguided patriotism, and altogether general badassery: “Make him look like everything we hate in modern superhero design,” to which Ross further explained as “come up with the most God awful Rob Liefeld sort of design that you can. What I was stealing from was… the design of Cable. I hated it. I felt like it looked like they just threw up everything on the character – the scars, the thing going on with his eye, the arm, and what’s with all the guns? But the thing is, when I put those elements together with the helmet of Shatterstar – well, the ram horns and the gold, suddenly it held together as one of the designs that I felt happiest with in the entire series.”
So add a little Biblical referencing, a terrifying lack of backstory, and a brutality matched only by his very humanizing (and completely pathetic, as it turns out) defeat, and you have the recipe for not only a great character, but quite possibly the best one of the entire series. And that’s saying something, considering it features Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Joker, Lex Luthor, Shazam!, the Spectre, and quite literally every single character who has ever been in the DC spotlight.
So there you have it. Go read Kingdom Come. For the first time, or again. And after you’ve done so, come back and check out my fun little fanboy Comics Casting Couch where I make my dream movie in my mind.
See you next time!