[Annotator's Note: the page number in parentheses is the page number of the bound edition; I've retained the original numbering of the separate issues.]
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Front Row: Hawkman, Green Lantern, Power Woman, Superman, Norman McCay, Wonder Woman.
Second Row: Flash III, Aquaman II, Red Arrow, Red Robin, Donna Troy.
Third Row: Aleea Strange, Midnight, Captain Comet, Brainiac's Daughter, Robotman III, Golden Guardian, Hourman III, Tornado, Ray II.
Last Row: Red Tornado I, Lady Marvel, King Marvel, Human Bomb, Whiz, Bulletman, Bulletgirl, Starman VIII, Powerman, Sandman IV, Red Tornado III, Living Doll, Avia, Atlas, Atom-Smasher.
Unless noted otherwise by quotation marks the names of the new characters, and new names for old characters, have been confirmed by Waid and Ross at various store signings and conventions.
The card set says this about Hawman: "combining the spirit of the old with the other-worldly flesh of the new."
The card set says this about Green Lantern I: "merging his lantern into his armor, Alan Scott is the most powerful champion of that name." (Thus putting to an end the long-running debate of the identity of the Kingdom Come Green Lantern)
Power Woman is the adult, Kingdom Come version of the heroine Power Girl, formerly a cousin to Superman. Michael Starsinic notes that she is wearing her old, pre-Crisis/Zero Hour-style belt buckle; in current DC continuity she wears a belt buckle with an Atlantean motif, the starburst symbol of her grandfather, the Atlantean mage Arion. The card set describes Power Woman as "formerly Power Girl, and still a major superhuman wrecking machine." The Kingdom Come Revelations supplement adds the following:
"The former Earth-2 Power Girl, cousin to Superman, still has a strong relationship with him in his new amalgamated group of Justice Leaguers and Societies. Her role as a top-rung member comes from the Supergirl-like status she once held. It is my contention that she has aged, but not terribly so, and that her physical stature has swelled to impressive bodybuilder-like proportions so that she represents the most aggressive superhuman attitudes from the female side. Her appearance harks back to her original outfit from the 70s. What became of her son born during Zero Hour crisis is not dealt with in our series."
The card set says this about Norman McCay: "a preacher and the Spectre's human anchor."
Flash III is described in the card set as "emanating from the Speed Force, Wally West fights crime 24 hours every day at super-speed." (Thus putting to an end the long-running debate as to the identity of the Kingdom Come Flash). The Revelations supplement adds this:
"Flash's evolution has the character become more godlike in power (a la his inspiration "Mercury"). All of the Flash's classic abilities were in use constantly, and we saw him as a vibrating motion blur, glowing red with heat friction with small bolts of electricity licking around him. He is always in several places at once, stepping between planes of reality, thinking several steps ahead of normal human capacity (one nice unused idea was that Superman would be the only one who could hear him speak). Before this evolution, Wally West sired a super-speedster daughter who acts in our story as the very young "new" Flash, but apparently has no direct connection to the evolved, Mercury-like Flash. An explanation for this could be that his personality may have grown from the singular mind of Wally West to synthesize all three Flashes into a composite."
As we'll find out (on page 33 (91) below), Aquaman II is actually Garth, the former Aqualad, who worked as the sidekick to Aquaman I. Aquaman II is described in the card set as "formerly Aqualad, now inheritor of his mentor's mantle." The Revelations supplement adds this:
"As one of the original Teen Titans, the former Aqualad holds an important place, being a high-strength-level character (from his ability to survive the ocean depths) and his role as the current Aquaman in our almost-complete rebuilding of the classic JLA. His look is influenced by a story where he retraced his roots to a lost race of purple-eyed Atlanteans like himself. The principal character from that tale was bearded as he is here. Aquaman II has an estranged daughter Tula, after his late girlfriend, whom he may have had little or no part in raising, something he has in common with some of his fellow Titans."
Red Arrow is actually Roy Harper, formerly Speedy, the sidekick to Oliver Queen, and currently seen as Arsenal. The card set describes him this way: "formerly Speedy, and later Arsenal, now following more closely the methods of his mentor, Green Arrow." The Revelations supplement adds this:
"The fifth member of the original Titans, Speedy returns in a role closer to that of Green Arrow. Speedy, later Arsenal, may have grown more comfortable with his roots by taking on his mentor's old Neal Adams-designed costume. Longtime Titans fans should remember that Speedy and Wonder Girl shared an innocent relationship as youthful Teen Titans and that now he, like she, is a single parent. His daughter is the product of a youthful coupling with the villainess Cheshire. This girl followed the archer's lineage as Red Hood..."
Red Robin is Dick Grayson, formerly Robin, the sidekick to The Batman. The card set describes Red Robin as "formerly Nightwing, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is following in his mentor's footsteps again."
Donna Troy used to be Wonder Girl, the sidekick to Wonder Woman. The card set says this about her: "formerly Wonder Girl, Troia and Darkstar, now an Amazonian champion." The Revelations supplement says this about her:
"It would have seemed appropriate to have the former Wonder Girl eventually take up the mantle of Wonder Woman, but the original never left that role. Instead of playing with that concept, I used an older Wonder Girl to illustrate how much her mentor hadn't aged. Her grey-streaked hair and increased weight indicate a physical maturity unlike her immortal Amazon sister. Wearing a costume closer to her older Titan roots, she has left her Darkstar mantle to the son she had with her former husband Terry Long - the first of many failed Titan relationships."
Aleea Strange is the daughter of Adam Strange, a DC space hero, and Alanna Strange (Adam's wife, who has never had a patronymic or matronymic suname of her own) of the planet Rann. The card set calls Aleea Strange the "half-human, half-alien daughter of Adam Strange and Alanna Strange." Someone whose name I've since lost pointed out that Ross has wonderfully incorporated into Aleea Strange's helmet the design of the helmet of Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man, who appeared in All-Star Comics #1-3, back in 1940. Gary Concord is just another of the incredibly obscure characters to whom Messrs. Waid and Ross pay tribute in this series. The Revelations supplement says the following about Aleea Strange:
"Aleea is the half-human, half-alien daughter of the human adventurer Adam Strange and Alanna of the planet Rann, introduced in the 1990 Adam Strange miniseries by Richard Bruning and Andy Kubert. Replacing her father in this story, she holds a stronger costume resemblance to Strange's Golden Age stylistic predecessor, Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man from All-American Comics." (Issues 8-19, to be precise - Annotator.)
Midnight is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero Dr. Mid-Nite. The card set describes him as "a spirit manifesting itself as a living smoke cloud." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
"Since my design for the older Robin looked so similar to the classic Dr. Mid-Nite outfit, I wanted to try to design something as different as possible here. The elemental approach I gave to former Justice Society members Fate and Tornado made me consider a more ethereal physical presence. He is a living void cloaked by the classic cape and cowl billowing out a black soupy smoke, much like his namesake's old grenade weapons."
Captain Comet was a mutant space hero for DC during the 1950s (years before the more famous mutant heroes the X-Men were a gleam in Stan Lee's eye). The card set describes the Kingdom Come Captain Comet as a "former L.E.G.I.O.N. member and the first superhero of the Silver Age." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
"Along with the Martian Manhunter, Captain Comet signaled the onset of the Silver Age and they both epitomized the new direction into heavier science fiction being applied to super-heroes. Comet's attire is most similar to his earliest costume with a helmet more akin to those used in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The strength of his advanced human physiology coupled with time spent in space appears to have slowed his aging process since his first appearance in 1951."
Brainiac's Daughter (informally known as XTC) is a new character here. The card set describes her as "the living computer's human progeny, and ancestor of Brainiac 5." David Goldfarb, Bill Jennings and David J. Snyder also note that the alternate name of Brainiac's Daughter, "XTC," is a nod to prog-pop band XTC, who recorded the songs "That's Really Super, Supergirl" and "Brainiac's Daughter" (the latter under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear). The Revelations supplement says this about her: "As silly as it sounds, this character is the combination of two songs by one of my favorite groups, XTC: "That's Really Super, Supergirl" and "Brainiac's Daughter." Apparently people assumed that her origin was from the coupling of old-time Legion lovebirds Brainiac 5 and Supergirl, and so, never having answered this question before myself, I'll go along with this idea. This also suggests that she...has traveled back in time from the 30th Century."
Robotman III is a future version of the Teen Titan Cyborg. The card set says this about him: "Victor Stone, formerly Cyborg, now an organism made of liquid metal." The Revelations supplement adds
"The third Robotman is the former Cyborg (now Cyberian), Vic Stone, who has lost his physical humanity to robotics. He has achieved greater acceptance of this through the fact that his newest body utilizes liquid metal technology so that he actually looks and feels more human than he has in years."
Golden Guardian is a future version of the DC hero The Guardian; the character's name was originally, in the Golden Age, the Guardian, but during Jack Kirby's run on Jimmy Olsen, back in the early 1970s, the character was brought back as the Golden Guardian. The card set describes the Golden Guardian as the "second body cloned from the original Golden Age shield-bearer, the Guardian." (Lest anyone be confused by this, Captain America predated the Guardian by over a year) The Revelations supplement adds the following:
"The original Guardian has been cloned to be youthful for the modern age, so it seemed natural that 20 or so years in the future he could be cloned again. Instead of simply having a protective shield, this new Guardian is armored head to toe. This is one of several gold-plated characters in the series. When I enhance characters who are classically colored wearing yellow, I usually illustrate it as true gold."
Hourman III is the Kingdom Come version of the former Justice Society hero Hourman. The card set describes Hourman III as the "current inheritor of the mantle with none of the time limits the original Hourman had." The KC Revelations supplement adds that
"this is a brand-new Hourman, whose costume is in the vein of the original with greater powers (including flight) but without the time limitations inherent in his name."
The Tornado is the Kingdom Come version of the former Justice League hero Red Tornado, a heroic android who later became a sort of air elemental; he was last seen in the pages of Primal Force. The card set describes the Kingdom Come Tornado as the "reformed spirit of the Tornado Champion." The Tornado Champion was a pre-Crisis being who fought Adam Strange, changed sides to become a hero, and then aided the Justice League against Kanjar Ro; the Tornado Champion inhabited the body of the Red Tornado and gave him his powers. The Revelations supplement adds the following:
"The body of the more familiar Justice League member Red Tornado is formed by swirling red and violet mists. This was inspired by the knowledge that the former android's incarnated spirit was the alien entity known as the Tornado Tyrant, later the Tornado Champion, an early JLA villain with a dual nature. It was that same spirit here taking a physical shape similar to the robot shell it once inhabited."
Ray II is the Kingdom Come version of the current DC hero the Ray, who is the son of the GA hero Ray. The card set says this about him: "son of the original, and Lord of Light." The Revelations supplement adds this about him:
"The current Ray takes after his father, not only with a gold-chrome version of the original Ray's costume but he has apparently halted his own aging process as well. Rather than following the Ray's Quality Comics origins and noteworthy association with the Freedom Fighters, he is included in our primary League lineup for the phenomenal power he wields and the asset that would prove to be. Much of the radiation poisoning and fallout documented in Kingdom Come could be cleaned up by his energy-converting abilities."
In one of those strokes of genius that only true keepers of the obscure, arcane, and trivial can appreciate, Waid and Ross have included here a futuristic version of Red Tornado I--that is, the first Red Tornado, the one who was going to be a member of the JSA until her pants tore. The first Red Tornado, back in 1939, was Ma Hunkle, who grew disaffected with the crime in her neighborhood and put on a costume (which included a soup pot as a helmet) and fought crime. The card set describes Red Tornado I as "armored with more than a pot for a helmet." The Revelations supplement says this:
"Another one just for fun I updated the cooking-pot-helmeted, long-underwear-wearing Ma Hunkel from All Star Comics to a fully armored version , still keeping the squat stature and general appearance of the humorous Golden Age character."
Lady Marvel is the grown-up, Kingdom Come version of Mary Marvel, the Fawcett heroine who was the younger sister of Billy Batson (aka Captain Marvel) and who shared his power. The Revelations supplement adds this about Lady Marvel:
"Mary Batson has the new role of wife and mother along with being the Big Red Cheese's sister. Mary's costume uses the classic white cape she always wore as the basis for her whole look..."
King Marvel is the grown-up, Kingdom Come version of Captain Marvel, Jr., the Fawcett hero who shared the power of Captain Marvel.
Human Bomb is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero. The card set calls him "still the same combustible hero of old."
Whiz is a new character. The card set describes him as the "son of Lady and King Marvel, and natural inheritor of the power of Shazam." "WHIZ" are also the call letters of the radio station at which Billy Batson, the human identity of Captain Marvel, worked, as well as the name of the magazine in which Captain Marvel first appeared. Tony Pi points out that Whiz's lightning motif and costume colors indicate the connection with Shazam. The Revelations supplement says this about Whiz:
"This truly is one of my earliest superhero designs. Originally called `The Spider' (obvious design origins), he appears almost identical to the way I drew him at age 8. `The Whiz' is the child of Freddy and Mary with a suggested genetic link to the power of Shazam, and, of course, his name is a reference to Whiz Comics."
Bulletman and Bulletgirl were heroes from the Fawcett line of comics, the same company that published Captain Marvel in the 1940s; Bulletman (but not Bulletgirl, unfortunately) was recently introduced into DC continuity in the Power of Shazam book. The card set describes both Bulletman and Bulletgirl as "modern steel-coated human bullet." The Revelations supplement says this:
"These Fawcett Comics characters were the next rung down from the Marvel Family in popularity. Their appearance is a homage to the original jodhpurs style and the steel-arms and full mask of a G.I. Joe Bulletman doll from the early `70s."
Starman VIII was formerly Thom Kallor, Star Boy, of the Legion of Superheroes. The card set describes him this way: "formerly Star Boy, from the 30th century." The Revelations supplement adds the following:
"The eighth character to bear this title is actually a design culled from my childhood supergroup creation. Since my design was so obviously inspired by the Legion of Super Heroes 1970s Star Boy costume, I figured that this Starman should be the grown-up incarnation of that character, transplanted to our time from the 30th Century (much like Karate Kid was for a time, as well as many of his contemporaries have been on occasion)."
Powerman is described in the card as the "robot minion of Superman."
Sandman IV is described in the card set as "formerly Sandy the Golden Boy, who now doesn't age." Sandy the Golden Boy was the Golden Age sidekick to Sandman I. Sandman IV is visually based on the Garrett Sanford Sandman (Sandman II), who was created during the 1970s by Jack Kirby in a memorable, if short-lived, series; the character was also brought into mainstream DC continuity, first in the pages of Infinity, Inc and more recently in the new Sandman book.
Red Tornado III is described in the card set as the "fire-haired, wind-manipulating successor to the mantle." Ray Randell points out that, according to Ross, Red Tornado III is the protegé of Tornado. A number of people noted Red Tornado III's visual and power similarities to the current DC character Maxima. The Revelations supplement says this:
"As an afterthought to having already developed the concept of the windstorm body of Tornado, I realized that the name would work well on a female version (much as it did for the original), with red, flowing hair along with wind-manipulating powers. The appearance of her costume as metal bands swirling about her suggests that she can twist more than just the wind with her powers."
Living Doll is described in the card set as "daughter of Doll Man and Doll Girl," who were heroes during the Golden Age in the pages of Feature Comics.
Avia is described in the card set as "Big Barda and Mister Miracle's daughter." Mister Miracle and Big Barda are both DC heroes and Fourth World gods; Avia's parentage is reflected in her costume, which is a combination of the costumes of Scott Free (Mister Miracle) and Big Barda. Thad Doria and David Goldfarb also noted that the name of the wife of Izaya Highfather, the mother of Mr. Miracle, was "Avia." The Revelations supplement says this about Avia:
"Our second Kirby-derived character here is the obvious product of the marriage of Scott Free (Mister Miracle) and Big Barda. Barda's strong female genes seemed to have won out in the chromosome game....she is named after Scott Free's late mother."
Atlas is described in the card set as "legendary demigod figure." Atlas was a Jack Kirby character introduced in First Issue Special #1, back in 1975, and has not been seen since.
Atom-Smasher is described in the card set as "formerly Nuklon, godson of the original Atom." As Scott Casteel, among others, pointed out, Atom-Smasher has a costume somewhat similar to the Golden Age Atom's. The Revelations supplement adds that
"The original Atom's masked-wrestler look is the basis of this attempt to amplify the Atom into a giant character instead of a little guy. The original's godson Nuklon fit the part of the atomic-enhanced giant that I was looking for."
John B. Sterner III echoes a number of people's observations in pointing out the lighting on the cover; all of the characters are lit from below on each cover except for the Spectre on the cover of issue #1 and Norman McCay on the cover of this issue. This, as John and many other folks pointed out, obviously means something; there have been a number of conflicting interpretations as to the reason for this effect.
Page 1 (59). We've seen this image before, as a prepublication publicity poster from DC. It takes on a more ominous meaning now that we have a context in which to put it.
The quotations here are from the Bible--the book of Revelation, once again: 8:2, 8:3, 8:5, and 8:6.
As Michael Cavanagh points out, this is a nice visual foreshadowing of page 5 (63); the Justice League members in McCay's vision here are flying through the flames of the torch of the Statue of Liberty. And as Dean Velasco points out, this quote leaves the implication that the seven angels are the seven Justice League members we see on page 5 (63).
Page 3 (61). The figure ranting and raving atop the damaged Statue of Liberty is the Americommando. Most familiar to modern readers as the penultimate villain in the DC Elseworlds series The Golden Age, the Americommando debuted in Action Comics #1 as Tex Thomson, who traveled the world with his sidekick Bob Daley, fighting crime and encountering the bizarre and grotesque. In Action Comics #33 Tex put on a domino mask, took up a whip, and began fighting crime and costumed criminals (including a Chinese cyclops named Gorrah) as Mr. America; in Action Comics #54 Mr. America went behind enemy lines and fought the Nazis as the Americommando. The Americommando returned to America in Action Comics #74 and was not seen again until brief cameos in All-Star Squadron, thirty years later. Although Mr. America and the Americommando were somewhat colorless and two-dimensional characters, little in those adventures indicated that Tex Thomson would become the fascist seen here, although as Johanna Draper points out this might well be a commentary by Messrs Waid and Ross about the changing view of America in the world's eyes, or simply the changing nature of America's view towards the world itself.
His assistants, the Minutemen, were not a part of Tex Thomson's original entourage. However, the original, Golden Age Hourman had three sidekicks who were named the Minutemen, which may be what Waid and Ross are referring to here. As a few people pointed out, it is also, more likely, another reference to The Watchmen; the Minutemen were the WW2 heroes group in that miniseries. Sean MacDonald points out that it might also be a reference to the patriotic Fawcett hero the Minuteman. A 1970s right-wing terrorist group also bore the name "The Minutemen." The Revelations supplement adds this about the Minutemen:
"I asked my artist friend and military enthusiast Tony Akins to provide me with a bunch of rag-tag militia men designs with souped-up armaments and somewhat flag-laden costume. I later gave some of them rubber masks of famous presidents to further show their lack of finesse. There is no relation between these Minutemen and the Golden Age Fawcett character Minuteman, or the Alan Moore group of the same name from Watchmen."
The Americommando's costume here seems quite similar (to me, at least) to that of Judge Dredd, the stern, take-no-nonsense futuristic British lawman. Neil Barnes adds that Dredd's Mega-City One is on the East Coast of the old US, and still features the Statue of Liberty - but Mega-City One's Statue of Liberty is over-shadowed by a larger statue of a judge, the Statue of Justice. Michael Denton sees some of Erik Larsen's Superpatriot in Americommando's costume. The Revelations supplement says this:
"This again was intended as an example of overblown modern superhero design aesthetics. Americommando has nothing to do with the original Americommando, Tex Thompson, earlier known as Mr. America. Barry Crain provided the art with excessive costume design to meet my request."
The familiar phrases in the Americommando's speech--"wretched refuse," "poor, tired, huddled masses"--are cobbled from the famous speech by Emma Lazarus which is engraved on the inscription of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Note the graffiti on the Statue of Liberty; that seems quite in keeping with Lobo's characterization. Also, as Brad Lile astutely noticed, the Statue seems to have had her heart torn out--more symbolism.
Juice Fritzius points out that the Minuteman in panel 3 has a tied-on goatee.
The Waid/Ross Annotations point out the presence of a Daily Planet newscopter.
Page 4 (62). The three figures parachuting into battle against the Americommando are based on characters who are, if anything, even more obscure than Red Tornado I; they are futuristic versions of, respectively, Red Dugan, Whitey Smith, and Blooey Blue - otherwise known as Red, White and Blue, agents of G-2, Military Intelligence. Red, White and Blue's first appearance was in All-Star Comics #1; they were regulars in that magazine until edged out by a bunch of nobodies known as the Justice Society of America. More obscure than Red, White and Blue it may not be possible to go (unless it's Sandra of the Secret Service).
Waid's script for this panel reads as follows:
"Red carries as his primary weapon a big m.f. of a flamethrower; Blue totes a Steranko coffeemaker that fires bluish electrical bolts; and White is just armed to excess with firearms and bandoliers."
The Revelations supplement adds this:
"This is one where I was actually unaware of the Golden Age characters of the same names from All Star Comics (who, paradoxically enough to our series, were ousted from their starring spot in that magazine by the arrival of the Justice Society). The approach with these characters was similar to the Metal Men. They are sentient robot figures capable of manipulating their bodies into complex mechanical shapes with complex functions but appear to be living paint instead of metal. The main weapon function of each corresponds to their color: Red uses a flamethrower, White uses a bazooka that fires a projectile with a white smoke trail, and Blue uses a laser that fires a blue beam of light."
Page 5 (63). Enter the new Justice League. From the top, the Ray II, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Superman, Power Woman, Green Lantern I, and Flash III.
The Flash has never had the ability to fly, but Johnny Quick did. Too, like Mort Meskin's Johnny Quick, the Kingdom Come Flash III has the appearance of being in several places at once.
Page 6 (64). As a few people (Chris Blakeley and Jonathan Woodward among them) have pointed out, Flash III and the Lantern are smiling at each other in panel 3; this could be pleasure at working together again, as well as an homage to the friendship which has traditionally existed between these two characters, or simply a sign of their pleasure at not having to work in the shadows any more. Waid's script for this panel reads
"Flash and Green Lantern grinning at each other with an expression that says, `Great to be back in the saddle again, isn't it?'"
Neil Hogan notes that the S insignia is now gone from Superman's cape.
Page 7 (65). The Brain Trust seen here being knocked out by the Red Robin--whose costume, as Alex Ross pointed out in an interview, is a mix of the traditional costumes of Robin and The Batman--are new characters; the Waid/Ross Annotations credit their design to Tony Akins. The Americommando mentioned them on page 3 (61), panel 4, and their comments here would seem to indicate that they are the ones in control of the Minutemen, rather than the Americommando.
As Melody Womack, among others, pointed out, Red Robin's boots, lack of outside trunks, and cowl-modeling suggest that his costume is based on the Michael Keaton movie version of The Batman. And Marilee & The Redheads point out that Robin's symbol is a combination of a bird silhouette and a stylized "R."
The Revelations supplement says this about Red Robin:
"The name `Red Robin' has a ring to it of a classical folk hero like Rob Roy or the Red Baron. Intending to give the former (and first) partner of Batman a role much closer to the one he was trained to eventually fill, I designed the adult Robin to reflect the look of his former mentor.
"Leaning more in design to his flying creature association (a robin "redbreast") than the Robin Hood roots of his name, he also appears to be more like Neal Adams's version of Batman. I was raised with a split perception of Batman: the Adams-influenced 70s style, alongside reprints of Bob Kane's original square-bodied, angular symmetry. There seemed to be no way to make perfect peace between these two approaches to Batman, so I split the aesthetics on two separate characters. Also, with all of the varying treatments of Robin's classic "R" logo, I wished to contribute something that made use of the shape while integrating a hopeful, more universal birdhead motif.
"As an adult, Dick Grayson should stand as a preeminent member of DC's big guns for his important role in history. Certainly Dick Grayson is one of the best-known superhero alter egos in the world and is best suited to having his original identity (presently he is Nightwing) returned to him. Due to his troubled relationship over the years with Batman, he could reacquire his heritage through his last replacement moving on or passing away. Or with Superman forming a league of justice when he too is estranged from Batman, he could enlist Grayson's aid, encourage him to reclaim his mantle, and join his cause. All this to possibly inspire Batman to see a place for himself at Dick's side again...."
Page 8 (66). Hawkman's taloned feet, clearly visible (for the first time in the series) in panel 1, are another indication that he has truly become a hawk-man.
Several people, Michael Denton among them, have noted that two of the Minutemen are dressed like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Page 9 (67). The U.N. Building which the Justice League is headed for, in panel 4, was seen on page 6 (16) of issue #1; its model is the Hall of Justice, from the Superfriends tv cartoon. Waid's script for this panel reads
"Make sure the U.N. building is damn imposing looking -- a fortress ringed by guards and with maybe even a couple of tanks on the lawn....we've got to begin drawing a stronger connection between the U.N. and the military."
This will become significant in issue 4.
As Jonathan Woodward notes, the "red glare" referred to in the first caption of panel 1 is likely a reference to the American national anthem; Michael Grabois notes that it's a double reference, for the national anthem as well as Superman's heat vision.
Page 10 (68). Superman's word balloons have a heavier black outline than any of the other characters; this is subtly effective, to me, in conveying the force and impact of his statements, as well as the symbolic weight of his words and his presence.
What the Justice League is proposing to do here, take charge, "if necessary, with force," of the rogue vigilantes and metahumans, is somewhat similar to the events of the Squadron Supreme miniseries that Marvel published in 1985, where the Squadron Supreme (who were themselves analogues for the Justice League of America) were forced to assume control of the United States after a prolonged series of bad events. The Squadron's efforts came to a sorry end; we will find out if the Kingdom Come Justice League's attempt at enforcing order is similarly doomed. (David Goldfarb points out that the Squadron's Batman analogue, Nighthawk, gathered together a group of villains to oppose the Squadron, and ended up defeating them in a climactic battle in another parallel between Kingdom Come and the Squadron Supreme miniseries. In my view, however, these parallels are limited, and Squadron Supreme is much the lesser of the two series)
As Michael Cavanagh points out, the reporter's phrase "the second coming of Superman" reinforces the Superman-Christ connection. Thad Doria notes that Roger Stern introduced the notion of a religion, in the DC Universe, claiming that Superman was the second coming of Christ.
Page 11 (69). Phil Sheldon, from the miniseries Marvels, makes an appearance in panel 1.
The reporter's words, in panel 2, provide a foreshadowing of the news we are to see later in this issue: why Superman left Metropolis and retreated into his Fortress of Solitude. The Waid/Ross Annotations point out that the reporter is holding a Daily Planet microphone.
Note the name of the Secretary General of the UN, in panel 6: "Wyrmwood." A "wyrm" is a snake, or dragon; wormwood is a plant which yields a bitter oil, and means "something bitter or grievous." Worse still, in the book of Revelation we find:
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were bitter. (8:11-12)
It seems highly likely that Secretary General Wyrmwood will be playing an unpleasant role in the events to come. Kevin Maroney adds that "Chernobyl" means "wormwood" in Russian.
Page 12 (70). The red sunset and cityscape in panel 3 give the impression of a nuclear explosion, with the cityscape being the ruined buildings left standing in the explosion's aftermath. This puts an ominous twist on the Spectre's words about McCay's "prophetic dreams."
Page 13 (71). Superman is flying into Stately Wayne Manor, home of Millionaire Bruce Wayne, otherwise known as The Batman. As Superman descends into the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor, however, we see that time has not treated the Manor or the Batcave well. Waid's script for this panel reads:
"We see some familiar sights -- the Joker-card hanging crookedly, the support-wire on one corner having snapped; the giant penny, badly tarnished; and if you've got room, the giant dinosaur, mottled and in disrepair, patches of loose-hanging rubber flesh exposing rusted joints beneath."
Alex Ross has put the date on the giant penny at 1937, which it was originally, in the penny's first appearance in the Golden Age, rather than at 1902, which it became in later stories.
Note the bulletholes in the wall beside the famous grandfather clock in panel 2. Craig Kostelecky, in the Wizard article on Kingdom Come, says that the hands on the grandfather clock are stopped minutes before "the eleventh hour," which is an allusion to the final confrontation in issue 4.
In panel 3 we can see two models of the Bat Knights seen in issue 1 of Kingdom Come.
In panel 4 we see several of the familiar Batcave artifacts: the giant penny, the T-Rex robot, and the Joker's giant playing card; in the right foreground we see another Bat Knight and in a grotto in the left background we can just make out what looks like the Batplane.
Superman's walking on the water of the flooded Batcave in panel 5 is still another indication of the Superman-Christ connection.
The Waid/Ross Annotations note the presence of the 1950s Batmobile.
Page 14 (72). Enter The Batman. He may not be wearing the cowl now, and is confined to some sort of mobile life-support system, but Bruce Wayne was never much more than a disguise for the Batman, even more than Clark Kent was a cypher for Superman. Now, with his mansion destroyed and his public identity revealed, Bruce Wayne seems to have disappeared altogether, leaving only The Batman.
Note the "Bruce" mug by Batman's left arm; we don't see Alfred (Bruce Wayne's faithful butler) here, but that seems a very Alfred-esque touch.
Note also the liver spots on Batman's left hand.
Bane and Two-Face, mentioned in panel 2, are two of Batman's worst enemies. Two-Face, formerly Assistant DA Harvey Dent, is dominated by a dualistic, good-evil compulsion, while Bane is the villain who broke The Batman's back in a much-publicized series a few years ago. Although they seemingly destroyed Wayne Manor, they weren't enough to stop The Batman. As Michael Denton points out, the life-support system is reminiscent of Darth Vader's in the Return of the Jedi. Craig Kostelecky quotes Mark Waid saying, "As Alex and I envisioned it, even though this guy had one of the most perfect bodies on Earth, he put it through so much abuse over the years that it just broke down and shattered."
Batman is obviously keeping track of Gotham City from his control center here. We get several views of Gotham City from his command post, and we can see several of the new Bat Knights lined up in the background.
Note, in the lower right hand screen in panel 3, the grinning face of The Batmite, a mischievous imp who bedeviled The Batman for many years during the 1950s.
According to Superman and the Batman, Arkham Asylum, Belle Reve Prison, and Blackgate were blown up by "Genosyde." Genosyde is a new character here; Arkham Asylum is where the criminally insane supervillains of DC Comics, which include almost all of The Batman's Rogues Gallery, are sent; Belle Reve Prison was the major holding facility for supervillains in DC Comics, and was the Louisiana home for the anti-hero group the Suicide Squad; and thanks to Chris Eckert I now know that Blackgate is where Gotham sends its "sane" criminals. The upshot of this exchange, however, is that The Batman clearly doesn't have to worry about most of his Rogues Gallery any more...
Page 15 (73). The Bat Knights can fly, and, appropriately, they form giant bats as they patrol Gotham, rather than giant birds or hawks.
One further Biblical allusion is The Batman's statement that "right now, the metahumans have the keys to earth's kingdom." Which is, I'm certain, a deliberate reference to Matthew 16:19, in which Jesus says to Simon Peter, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven." Batman's stated ambition to wrest control of the "keys to earth's kingdom" shows either vaulting ambition or frightening hubris, or both.
Dave Stein points out that this sequence, with Batman giving orders to the patrolling Bat Knights, is almost an exact copy of a scene in a Darkwing Duck episode. Go figure.
Page 16 (74). Batman and Superman debate Batman's methods here, in much the same way that the regulars of the Usenet newsgroup Rec.Arts.Comics.DC.Universe debated the Batman's methods after the publication of the first issue of Kingdom Come. I'd judge the discussion here a draw.
Superman's comment--"You're willing to turn ordinary citizens into a superstitious, cowardly lot"--is ironic, hearkening back to Bruce Wayne's words, in Batman #1: "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible...a...a...A Bat!"
The two Bat Knights guarding the stairway leading from the Batcave up to the light may be a reference to the lair of the jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis, who was the guardian of tombs and who judged the dead, and whose underworldly headquarters' entrance was guarded by two jackal-headed figures, in much the same way that the Bat Knights stand guard over the entrance to the Batcave. Batman, in this light, can be seen as an analogue for Anubis, which might imply that where Superman is symbolically looking towards and planning for the future, the Batman is concerned with keeping the past alive.
Michael Denton notes that there is a Christian tradition that Jesus descended into the underworld after his death to minister to saints sent their prior to his birth. In this light, and given the equation of Superman with Christ throughout Kingdom Come, that would make Batman less of an anti-hero and more of a tarnished hero in need of redemption.
Batman's comments here about his allies is a foreshadowing of the coming, apocalyptic conflict; we can see the outline of his allies in that same panel.
Bat-Mite is visible, as Chris Eckert caught, in panels 4 and 5, spying on the proceedings.
Peter Li points out that one of the screens in panel 4 shows the lamppost in Crime Alley where Bruce's parents were killed. Scott Rogers notes that the head of the original, 1930s-style Batmobile is visible in panel 4, as is the Wayne Foundation (Batman's home and hq in the late 1960s and early 1970s).
Johanna Draper notes that the "Star City" mentioned by The Batman here is where the hero Green Arrow was originally located.
The Revelations supplement has this to say about Batman:
"Because so much had been done visually and creatively with Batman in recent years, it became the greatest challenge to find a different take from all the rest. At first I had no different approach in mind other than continuing on Frank Miller's Dark Knight version, using a refined suit of armor. It finally occurred to me that I was more inspired by drawing the out-of-costume Bruce Wayne. With an abused body held together by sticks along with intense features and charisma, this negated the need for a costumed identity. The idea that the revelation of his secret identity would lead to his true soul as The Batman being exposed was the newest wrinkle I think we brought to his character. This take allowed for more focus on things around Batman, such as the robot sentries who patrolled in his stead.
"The greatest departure from the norm was that this Batman smiles. To have this man smiling all the time seemed to grant him a creepier presence, as if to betray a sense that he's up to something. The precedent for a grinning Batman comes from the earliest days of his career, just before Robin arrived in 1940. In fact, the interesting dichotomy is that the Batman of the Golden Age was smiling on his covers while Superman wore a grim expression with squinty, evil-seeking eyes. The reason for turning the characterization back around to this can be found in the strange idea that while a number of tragedies have befallen Superman, making him more grim, Batman has grown to accept his fate and is almost relieved by his injuries. He may be grateful that the stress from the life he had been leading, the pushing of his own body to the breaking point, has changed into a lifestyle where he had to find other means to continue his war on crime--basically letting him take a bit of a break. The technology available to him along with friends who know how to wield it...could provide a satisfying application of his efforts without compromising his ideals."
Page 17 (75). Enter three of The Batman's allies, all heroes: Ted Kord (the Blue Beetle II), Dinah Lance (Black Canary II), and her lover Oliver Queen (Green Arrow).
Ted Kord's characterization here, as a knowledgeable scientist, is a welcome change from the more recent Keith Giffen Justice League Blue Beetle, which portrayed Ted Kord as something of a ninny. Kord's appearance, as a bespectacled man going slightly to pot, is somewhat similar to the appearance of the Nite Owl, in The Watchmen, who was in turn originally based on the Charlton Comics Blue Beetle. Kord's weight was also a feature of the Justice League Blue Beetle.
Oliver Queen's appearance here has evoked comparisons to Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart; the traditional Green Arrow has always had a full head of hair, but the balding Kingdom Come Green Arrow seems pretty clearly based on Frank Miller's version of the hero in The Dark Knight Returns miniseries.
The Revelations supplement has this to say about Oliver & Dinah Lance Queen:
"JLAer Green Arrow (currently thought dead) is finally reunited with his former romantic partner, Black Canary, in classic Robin Hood/Maid Marian tradition. Both are retired from super-heroics but aid Batman as two of his closest friends. Oliver's baldness is symptomatic of the all too human, thin-haired state of the older crimefighters on Batman's side. Dinah's dark hair and white clothing is intended to be in contrast to her previous black-leather-clad, blonde-wig-wearing identity which has been handed down to their daughter, the new Black Canary."
The lineup of The Batman's allies is as follows, reading left to right, top to bottom:
First Row: Fate (the Kingdom Come version of the DC mystic, hero, and Lord of Order Dr. Fate), Lightning (obscured by panel three; she was last seen in issue #1), and Samurai, who we'll see more of later. (Credit must be given to David Goldfarb for catching the latter two figures).
Second Row: Plastic Man (according to the Waid/Ross Annotations), Wildcat III (the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero Wildcat), Obsidian (son of the Golden Age Green Lantern and the Golden Age villainess Thorn, and brother to the heroine Jade - the KC Green Lantern VI), Black Canary III (as we'll see, the daughter of Dinah Queen and Oliver Queen), Condor (the Kingdom Come version of the GA hero Black Condor), and Red Hood.
Third Row: Ralph Dibny (kudos to Chris Eckert and Thad Doria for i.d.ing him), Zatara II (the grandson of the Golden Age sorcerer Zatara, and son of the current heroine Zatanna), Green Lantern VI (aka Jade, the daughter of the Golden Age villainess Thorn and the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, and inheritor of his power), Batwoman II (along with Ace II, who is based on Batman's canine companion during the 1950s), Menagerie (the Kingdom Come version of the Teen Titans hero Garfield Logan, aka Changeling), and Dragon (who we'll see more of later).
As Dave Van Domelen, among others, has pointed out, Wildcat III's new "costume" might be a physical transformation into a cat-man, similar to Hawkman's transformation into a bird-man.
Note the Bat-mite spying on The Batman behind his chair in panel 1 and in the lower right of Panel 4.
Page 18 (76). Panel 2 shows Batman and Superman in scenes quite similar to the covers of their debuts, in Detective #27 and Action #1, respectively. And as Chris Blakeley pointed out, the scene featuring Wonder Woman in panel 3 is very reminiscent of the cover of Wonder Woman #1; although on that cover Wonder Woman is wielding her lasso, rather than the spear seen here. David Goldfarb points out that Wonder Woman here is in her old, Golden Age costume--single-pointed tiara, no loincloth, and eagle chest insignia--an outfit which she has never worn in current continuity.
The Spectre refers here to Wonder Woman as "Eternal Princess of the Amazons," a statement which will take on more significance later in this issue.
As Norman McCay says, it is indeed "hard to tell" if they are friends. Pre-Crisis, they were best of friends, but post-Crisis they only respected each other. It's hard for characters to keep this straight, but harder still for long-time comic book readers.
Page 19 (77). More recruits join the new Justice League: from left to right, we see the Ray II, Flash III, Power Woman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Donna Troy (who is referred to in Waid's script as "Wonder Girl"), the Golden Guardian, Red Robin, Robotman III, Hawkman, Green Lantern I, and Midnight.
The hand-holding between Wonder Woman and Donna Troy, her former sidekick, is a very nice touch.
Note that Superman is shaking hands with the Golden Guardian, the futuristic version of the Golden Age hero The Guardian. The Guardian was created by Jack Kirby as a thinly-veiled imitation of the Marvel character Captain America, who Kirby also created (along with Joe Simon--thanks to Keith Baird for correcting my mistake here). Since Superman and Captain America are both apotheoses of the heroic ideal, it's nice to see them grouped together, and their obvious pleasure at meeting each other. As Gregg Allinson points out, in the post-Crisis DC Universe both the Guardian and Superman operated in Metropolis, and teamed up on several occasions, so that perhaps Superman is greeting an old friend here.
Note also the grouping of Hawkman, Green Lantern I, and Midnight, all former members of the GA DC superhero group the Justice Society of America.
Panel 2 shows us the new Justice League in combat: Hawkman, Green Lantern I, Superman, and Flash III, in combat against Red Tornado III (seen on the cover of issue #2), Phoebus (last seen in issue #1), Starman VIII, and Brainiac's Daughter (seen on the cover of issue #2).
Jim Cowling points out that Starman VIII seems to be able to hurt Flash III without any visible power effects; this is, as he noted, close to the gravity-wielding powers of the Legion of Super Heroes Star Boy, as is the Kingdom Come Starman's costume.
Page 20 (78). More combat in panel 1: Starman VIII, Red Tornado III, Superman, Hawkman, Green Lantern I, Phoebus, Red Robin, Brainiac's Daughter, and Flash III fighting three new characters: Buzzbot (designed by Aldrin Aw), Doc Smog (designed by Andrew Kudelka), and Horny Toad (who will show up again in issue 4 and was designed by Andrew Kudelka) (The Waid/Ross Annotations provided the names for these characters).
The logos on the shirts of the children (who, as the Waid/Ross Annotations point out, are walking down a street (perhaps Michigan Avenue?) in Chicago, Illinois, the home of Alex Ross) in panel 2 are the logos of the new Superman and the Flash; as the narrator says, the people are embracing the new Justice League--through their marketing, perhaps, or simply through the sort of child-like hero-worship most comic book fans went through, once upon a time.
Jim Cowling points out that Brainiac's Daughter's costume has a hidden "Superman-S-Shield" design, which would fit, given her parentage.
* * * * *
Because these annotations are so extensive, the annotations for this second issue have to be broken up into two parts. Look for the next installment tomorrow here on Sequart.com.
In the meantime, you can visit Jess Nevins's annotations site to read all of his annotations.
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