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2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #9-7

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7. “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (Kingdom Come #1-4) – 941 points (21 first place votes)

Kingdom Come is an interesting reflection on the superhero trends of the 1990s.

It is set in the future, a world where “grim and gritty” superheroes have basically taken control of the DC Universe, leading to vast amounts of chaos (and the Spectre is asking an old minister to help pass judgment on the Earth. This minister, Norman McCay, is our eye’s on view of the problems of this world).

Superman is pulled out of retirement by a tragedy which left it quite clear that something “had” to be done about the superhero problem. However, unbenown to Superman, other forces were coming together to deal with heroes THEIR way.

Superman’s return is breathtakingly delivered by Waid and Ross…

Superman’s return led to a resurgence of “traditional” superheroics, and Superman gathers his old friends in a revamped Justice League. Superman gains a number of converts to his way of thinking, but just as many “heroes” turn away from Superman’s view of the world, leading to a number of conflicts and Superman effectively imposing his will on these people, something that turns Batman from Superman’s crusade.

As the powder keg Superman has been building explodes, it’s hero versus hero versus villain while a worried government wonders if they should just try to rid themselves of superheroes once and for all.

It’s a tense script by Mark waid, and Alex Ross’ realistic painted artwork brings across the humanity of the story being told. In addition, Ross clearly has a blast revamping the looks for the older heroes and designing costumes for the new characters.

And boy Ross knew how to deliver on dramatic moments. Like the moment above and later in the story when the prison Superman and friends built to hold the rogue heroes and villains is breached. Superman tries to get involved but Luthor has sent an ace in the hole to stop Superman…


What a way to lead into the finale! The finale was one hell of a brawl between heroes, villains, other heroes and, oh yea, the governments of the world. It was quite an ending!

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I picked up Maus last year but still haven’t gotten around to reading it. Kingdom come was quite awesome.

Ah, I think (and ‘Spruce’ll let me know if I’m wrong) that Maus is new to list ? Maybe not. It certainly belongs here. Very moving stuff. The copies I first read were actually sketched in by spiegelman himself (because…well, if I ever get off my butt and get some more pieces written for the site, I’ll let y’all know). Even better was when I discovered a 7 dollar copy of the complete HC version at a local grocery store (no, really!). And I also, thanks to my sister, own a copy of Maus in Lithuanian. Odd, I know.

Those 16 year old Goth girls strike again! Season of Mists probably is the best overall storyline of Sandman. To clarify, it’s Matt Wagner art on the Dead Boy Detectives interlude there, right?

Kingdom Come…hm, I like the future versions of characters and wish more had been done with them, but the storyline itself tends to leave me cold. I like it, but I can certainly see the flaws and it’s not one that I would vote for myself.

Jeez, this might be the first grouping where I own and have read all the storylines! Wow!

That final page of Kingdom Come is always what I point to when discussing the difference between collecting the serials and buying a trade. When you’re 3 months in, and things have been building up and falling apart and it’s all finally hitting the fan and here comes Superman, the only hope to stop it and BANG! there’s Captain Marvel, stopping him, grinning like he’s batcrap insane and now you have to WAIT A MONTH TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS! I remember that wait. That buildup, that anticipation… Getting that fourth issue was not just buying a great comic, it was RELIEF. Such an experience.

The folks reading it in trade get to the point where its all finally hitting the fan and here comes Superman, the only hope to stop it and BANG! there’s Captain Marvel, stopping him, grinning like he’s batcrap insane and then they… turn a page, and get a resolution. I love trades. Own gobs of ‘em. Great ways to get stories from long ago, or avoid back issue binning or even just read a story without a 6 inch stack of bags, boards, and books. But I think about my Kingdom Come reading experience, and I will never be convinced that the guys who got it in the trade had the same one, nor that it was as satisfying. And as I start in on Breaking Bad, finally, I wonder what I’m missing because if I want it all, if I need to know what happens next… Well, in 20 seconds Netflix is going to tell me, unless I tell it not to.

So same top 10 as last time, and same top 6 (though Brian will probably throw in a red herring). Looks like the accepted classics are set for now.

You know what I don’t understand? CBR took a poll a few weeks back for what is your favorite Sandman story.

Here it is: http://www.comicbookresources.com:8080/?page=poll&id=190&view=results

…as you can see, Preludes and Nocturnes ran second only to Season of Mists. It was well ahead of The Doll’s House, Brief Lives, The Kindly Ones, and A Game of You. But yet, all of those made the list and Preludes and Nocturnes (also known as the “More Than Rubies” storyline) didn’t. And it was the same last time they did this top 100 too. Seems very odd.

The Crazed Spruce

November 25, 2013 at 5:13 am

I’ve only read the first half of Maus, but it was every bit as poignant as you expect a Pulitzer winner to be. Hope to read the rest of it some day.

I’m still only about halfway through reading Sandman, but Seasons of the Mist is by far my favourite arc so far. If I’d read it before making my ballot, it just might’ve made my list. (I guess we’ll see next time….)

I loved Kingdom Come, but I haven’t read it in over a decade, and didn’t think about it when putting my list together. Don’t think it would’ve made my top 10, but it probably would’ve made my top 25.

Yeap, and if you look at favorite Morrison’s Bat-story poll(http://www.comicbookresources.com:8080/?page=poll&id=171) you’ll see that first storyark of Batman and Robin seems to be much more popular than RIP. And yet it’s not even mentioned here.

The Crazed Spruce

November 25, 2013 at 5:16 am

And hey….

Maus jumped from 10 to 9.
Seasons of Mist stayed at 8, but gained 74 points.
Kingdom Come rose from 9 to 7.

Another of my picks makes it and, as with the previous four to show up, it’s climbed (from 10th to 9th). Maus is amazing. If you haven’t read it, you should read it. That is all.

Season of Mists is certainly one of the best Sandman storylines (for me it would probably be tied with The Kindly Ones), and at least one Sandman storyline deserves to be in the top 10. After all, we wouldn’t want those 16-year-old goth girls getting any more miserable.

Kingdom Come is also very good. Probably a bit high IMO, but I can respect the choice.

Gary, I agree. Same thing when I Netflix television DVDs: A romance that builds over a season doesn’t have the same impact when it’s over a week (or however long it takes me).
Maus. Very, very popular with hipsters and 16-year-old Goth girls so I hear.
Among the things I remember from KC are the little bits. Batman punching out Captain Marvel. Superman’s “Bruce Wayne doesn’t want anyone else to die!” And Batman’s “Hmph. So that’s what it’s like.”
I knew the Dead Boy Detectives came from Sandman, but not where, exactly. So that’s good to know.

It’s also freaky to reread Kingdom Come and realize how many things showed up there first.

The Crazed Spruce

November 25, 2013 at 5:30 am

My picks for the top 6:

6: Son of Ambush Bug
5: Genesis
4: Armageddon: Inferno
3: Batman: The Widening Gyre
2: Secret Wars 2
And, naturally….
1: X-Men: The Draco

The Crazed Spruce

November 25, 2013 at 5:33 am

(Sorry, Travis, I couldn’t resist. :) )

You jest Crazed Spruce, but Son of ambush Bug was for me the pinnacle of Ambush Bug. I love that series.

Decent batch here after a dodgy couple.

I loved the first half of Maus, but found the second half a big let-down – largely because I was a lot more interested in the WW2 stuff than I was in the relationship between Art Spiegelman and his dad.

Kingdom Come has some great stuff in it – but I never quite loved it.

This is probably the second best Sandman arc (after Kindly Ones) for me.

Mark Waid has always been the master of the cliffhanger and Kingdom Come #3 may have the greatest comic cliffhanger of all time.

I remember Son of Ambush Bug for the cover squeezing on every possible cliche (“Is He Man or Monster?” “A Collectors Item Destined to Become a Classic!”) but the series never lived up to that.
I wonder if we can include Keith Giffen’s one-page ad for the All New, All Different Santa Claus (“They should never have called him mutie!”) in the Best Christmas Stories voting?

I meant squeezing in the cliches for humor. It was a good thing.

Yes, the final 6 are all pretty predictable at this point, but what order will be another question.

The “lock” I’m surprised didn’t crack the entire list was 7 Soldiers. I’m not too concerned it’s not here (it didn’t really stick the landing for me) but given voters’ predilection for modern comics in general and Morrison comics in particular, I’m surprised it’s a no-show. (on a related note, kind of interesting Bendis is nowhere to be found here either!).

Voted for Season of Mists, my favourite Sandman story. Although I’m always a little surprised it seems to be everyone else’s favourite Sandman story as well. There’s nothing about it that screams “the ultimate Sandman epic” or anything. But for me, it’s got cool Endless dynamics, very freaky Kelley Jones art, a unique conundrum, a beautiful resolution with Nada…not to mention the GREATEST depiction of Lucifer I’ve read anywhere, making him a great antagonist and all around interesting devil. Thor and Loki are fun, too. So listing all that, guess it makes sense it’s people’s favourite Sandman story…

Haven’t read Maus since it came out, but I remember it being powerful. I certainly won’t dispute a Pulitzer-winner in the top ten!

Also haven’t read Kingdom Come in a long time, but I remember it being very, very cool.

Hope the final six have at least swapped some positions to keep things interesting..!

I didn’t like Maus all that much. The whole thing about making the Jews into mice and the Germans into cats etc. felt too gimmicky to me.

Kingdom Come is wonderful, especially the art.

Season of Mists is a great story, though in my opinion far from being Sandman’s best arc.

I tried Maus a few years back, and it was so highly regarded that I was worried that even though it was good, it might suffer due to my expectations being built up too high. When I read it, I was surprised that as highly regarded as it was, it may STILL be UNDERrated. That’s a very rare and quite impressive feat.

Kingdom Come I thought was horrid, and represents so much of what I hate about modern comics and their approach to “iconic” [hate that word] heroes. I’ve explained why in the past and don’t want to bore people with it again.

interesting thought if maus even made the list it would be in the top five at least given how reading it you get a sad feel for the authors father being in the camps. and kingdom come been waiting to see it show up on the list. season of mist intersting that was the sandman story thought would be hgher

My #1 and my #2 in the same post. Loved KC and Season of Mists.

To clarify, it’s Matt Wagner art on the Dead Boy Detectives interlude there, right?

Yeah, I was just trying to credit Jones for his overall contributions to the arc, not the Dead Boy Detective issue in particular. I edited it to make that point clearer.

Gaiman is my favorite author but I’m not a fan off dead boys detectives. Easily the most boring part of Childrens Crusade. Reminds me that I should try to pick up the black orchid series.

T I was never that impressed with Kingdom Come either, although I do not think it is horrid. I also do not like the ‘hero as icon’ approach that we get so much of these days. I much preferred the Byrne through Jurgens Superman over the Superman who is worshiped by his teammates we had just before Flashpoint.

Have not read Maus or that Sandman story. I do want to read Sandman for the Kelly Jones art, which is where T and I must part…

Kingdom Come was #3 on my list. Waid is the only creator to get 2 entries into my Top 10. Pretty much from the moment I read it KC was in my top 3, and on subsequent re-readings that opinion hasn’t changed.

Sandman definitely has the most storylines from any one series on the list, right? It’s kind of weird that Gaiman is going to end up as probably one of the Top 5 or 10 creators on this list, point-wise, and all of it is for the same series. This list is making me want to go back and re-read Sandman, though. It’s been a long time.

I’m pretty sure I own Maus, but I haven’t read it. That’s something I know I need to correct at some point.

Funny, I dearly love SANDMAN, but the Season of Mists isn’t my favorite part of it. I enjoyed more the storylines with human protagonists, or the “short stories” that were set in historical times. But SANDMAN is so good that even my least favorite stories are still better than 99% of other stuff that is out there.

KINGDOM COME is one of the comics that I think is a little lesser now than it was at the time. It was very much written as a response to the Image Comics anti-hero, and that sort of anti-hero type isn’t as prevalent today. As long as we’re talking Alex Ross, I think MARVELS has aged better, the themes are more timeless. But KINGDOM COME is still a very good read.

I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t read MAUS. I really have to do that soon.

Maus and Season of Mists were great. Kingdom Come was crap, though.

Season of Mists is probably my all-time favorite.

Kingdom Come went to hell at the end (though it stayed pretty), but the climax of #1 is an all-time great moment.

Maus is clearly #1 Spiegelman took the most serious topic of the 20th Century and told two great stories about it and it did not come across as over simplified or trivializing which some critics who see comics purely as a childs medium accused it of being Their comments showed their ignorance of what comics actually can do Works like Maus and the work of Joe Sacco Craig Thompson show that comicbookds are not just adolescent power fantasies and do not have to be

I wish I could get a print of the Captain Marvel/ Superman page without the dialogue. There were so many comparisons between the two from the ’40’s on. It was fun to see Captain Marvel kick Superman’s ass for a few pages.

Maus is amazing. It’s the only comic I was ever assigned to read in school, and I devoured it in a few nights. I found the present-day sequences as effective as the Holocaust scenes but they resonated with me in different ways.

Season of Mists is my 2nd favorite Sandman story, marred only by the deus ex machina ending. For me, the fun was in seeing all the gods and other beings interacting. Kelly Jones’s art was very well-suited to the unreal setting and strange characters. I especially liked the scenes with Thor and Loki.

Kingdom Come is not a favorite. I think the climax didn’t work. As good as Ross’s surfaces are, I found his art numbing after awhile. The easter eggs were fun, though, and some of the story was compelling (particularly the Batman/ Superman/ Secret Society dynamics).

In my opinion, Kingdom Come was the best comic-run, ever. It should be #1 on everyone’s list. In all of the shitty artwork and storylines that were coming out in the 90’s and 2000’s, Alex Ross was doing masterpieces like Kingdom Come and Justice. This shit is beautiful, artwork and writing.

If Maus and Seasons of Mist were 1 and 2 on this list, I wouldn’t complain. Not only is Mist the best overall story arc of Sandman, but it also includes several of my favorite single issues of that run as well.

Kingdom Come is the lesser of the three here, but it’s still good and I don’t really have no problem in its placement.

Maus is the most overrated thing in the history of comics. A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that the degree of seriousness of the subject matter somehow determines the quality of the work based on said subject matter. Maus’ reputation has benefitted tremendously from this, even though the actual story/storytelling is not anywhere even remotely close to that level. The average Dan DeCarlo Archie story is 100x better, but because it’s “not serious” it will never get the same dues from self-proclaimed “experts” on the medium.

Keep in mind that I’m not even saying “MAUS SUCKS LOL”, just that its reputation benefits from cultural attitudes and social etiquette as opposed to more objective standards.

Kingdom Come disappointed me slightly upon its initial release, but having reread it in recent years I think it’s actually gotten better with time and perspective. A lot of people though seem to forget how it wasn’t just offering an alternative viewpoint to the dominant trends of the 90s comics industry, it was also to some way, shape or form satirizing them. The big difference between Silver Age superheroes (which is basically what Waid used the Justice League of America to represent in general) and 90s style anti-heroes is that the former developed organically and the latter arbitrarily. That’s where the whole idea came from that after they killed all the super villains they had to keep fighting because that’s all they were created for in the first place, regardless of context or whether or not it even made any sense. And since there were no super villains left they just fought each other because… that’s just what superheroes were “supposed to do” according to the suits/editors who’s mandates had lead to their creation in the first place. Kingdom Come was basically just showing the inevitable consequences of this once logic and “realistic” standards were applied to it.

@The Crazed Spruce: Dammit, I was going to make the exact same joke! (With a bit of Secret Invasion and Fear Itself thrown in for good measure).

Spiegelman releaed a book a couple years back called metaMAUS that is a very interesting behind the scenes look at Maus. It’swell worth checking out if you enjoyed Maus!

Kingdom Come is an interesting reflection on the superhero trends of the 1990s.

It is set in the future, a world where “grim and gritty” superheroes have basically taken control of the DC Universe, leading to vast amounts of chaos

Sooooo, the New 52, then.

Maus, such an amazing story. You have to be in the mood for it, and by that, I mean, don’t be having an awesome day and try to squeeze a few pages of Maus into it, it will ruin that awesome day.

Season of MIsts is still the only real Sandman I have read. I have read the Death miniseries but Sandman never captured me. I will have to try to get some of these other Top 100 storylines Sandman entries to get a better grasp on the series.

Kingdom Come, was a story I really liked when I was younger. I remember really liking the contrast of how Marvels was an Origin story and how Kingdom Come was an Ending story. Some great moments in it, I will still reread the Batman pages, even the Superman ones from time to time. Wonder Woman going to Superman and bringing him back is such a powerful moment – I just like that he went back to being a farmer. That was a great touch.

My favorite part of Season of Mists (partial spoiler) was the final lines. I can still quote them from memory.

“And they all lived happily ever after.

Happily ever after, in Hell”

Get to teach Maus next term. If you’ve only read volume 1, volume 2 has a whole different feel to it and is worth reading. I’ve always (potentially…I haven’t read metaMaus but will look for it now) attributed that to Vladek’s real life death happening between the volumes and maybe Spiegelman being more self-reflective in the second volume on everything.

Nevertheless, an utterly unbelievable work.

KC I have no issue with. It was designed as an Elseworld’s. It took a long hard look at where super heroes were heading, and it had the right resolution where there was an ending but no real victories. I do wish we would have gotten more of the future heroes and what they were like and less of the Superman/Wonder Woman bits, but it works for me.

I like all of these a lot!

As the “critically acclaimed graphic novel memoir” genre goes, I like Maus more than Persepolis but less than Blankets and Fun Home.

As Sandman arcs go, I like Season of Mists less than Brief Lives and Kindly Ones but more than any of the others.

As Mark Waid comics go, I love Kingdom Come but I’d rather see Superman: Birthright up here.

So, everything’s pretty locked in here, it seems. Would now be the time to ask how the hell Seven Soldiers (which wound up being my vote from the Morrison camp and my number 2 vote overall) dropped off the list entirely?

The top 9 were pretty clear so I tried to guess the order. I know you have no reason to believe me, but I totally nailed 7-9 in order. We will see how the next 6 go.

I’ve read all three of these! Kingdom Come and Season of Mists I read when they were brand new, issue by issue from the comic book shop. I read all of Maus soon after Part II was collected.

Maus would definitely go in my Top Ten. It’s really amazing. Everyone who’s been putting it off should just stop what they’re doing and read it. You heard me! Right now!

Season of Mists was my introduction to Sandman. I could hardly believe what I was reading! If it hadn’t been for Sandman luring me to the comic book shop every month for the next four or five years, I might have gotten out of comics entirely. It’s not my favorite Sandman arc. (Well, sometimes it is.) It’s just barely beaten by The Kindly Ones and A Doll’s House. But it’s still a great story, even if you’re not a 16-year-old Goth girl.

About six months ago, I was looking through a comic box I hadn’t looked at for awhile, trying to remember what all was in there, and I came across Kingdom Come. I didn’t really remember it. So I read it and I probably enjoyed myself all afternoon. I do remember the nice nice nice Alex Ross art. I don’t remember the story much. Thinking of Kingdom Come always makes me think of the Alex Ross stories that I do remember – Marvels and Justice. I’m not so enamored of Kingdom Come.

Anonymous, you should re-read MAUS. It has so many subtleties to it; in fact, you should read some of the critical literature on it to reconsider why the book is so highly praised. It is not merely because it tackles a weighty topic. The fact is that Spiegelman’s storytelling feels so effortless, it is easy to miss how much craft went into it.

@fraser there was a one shot Ambush Bug Christmas special. It should qualify for the Christmas list. Speaking of lists…Briam, why not have a top list of funny books?

@Jim Sheridan —

critical literature

These are two phrases that send up red flags every time that I see someone use them. It’s like people are trying REALLY hard to intellectually justify their excessive praise of something that doesn’t hold up to the same standards — relative to how much praise they give it I mean — that would be applied to determine the quality of other types of works.

Kingdom Come is my #4 and it still holds up very well for me.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the sometimes excessive religious overtones, other than that it’s pretty much a masterpiece.
KC is also the only time I’ve ever like Shazam Captain Marvel in anything. Yeah that last page of issue 3 is possibly my favorite cliffhanger of all time and I would so love to have that as a huge poster on my wall.

I’m sure Maus is as great as it’s always been hyped to be, but I know it’s the kind of story I’ll have a terrible time trying to read. I still might get around to it one of these days.

Ok, I was thinking more conventional comics and less graphic novels, otherwise I definitely would’ve voted for both Maus and Persepolis.

BTW, has anyone seen the Persepolis animated movie ? My wife, not a comics person at all, but she likes indie films, enjoyed it.

Sandman never really clicked with me until I read it via Comixology, and now am enjoying reading the full run. Really, not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but certainly deserving of its praise.

Kingdom Come has that beautiful art, and of course that great @ss whooping Cap gives Supes, but the story just never really resonated with me. Not to be harsh, but it wouldn’t have come close to making my list.

Others have said too, no Valiant ? I didn’t figure they’d make the list, but I still listed 2 storylines that are in my top 10.

@Iam Fear — The only thing I don’t like about it is the sometimes excessive religious overtones

Really? That’s an odd criticism.

Keep in mind that I’m not even saying “MAUS SUCKS LOL”, just that its reputation benefits from cultural attitudes and social etiquette as opposed to more objective standards.

I’m inclined to agree. Maus is very good, but because of the subject matter people do tend to put it on a higher pedestal than it probably really deserves.

I’m sure Maus is as great as it’s always been hyped to be, but I know it’s the kind of story I’ll have a terrible time trying to read. I still might get around to it one of these days.

For what it’s worth, Maus is actually quite easy reading considering the subject matter.

I haven’t seen the Persepolis graphic novel, but the movie was excellent.

Yeah, Maus is actually a pretty breezy, not-dense read. If you can make it through V for Vendetta or From Hell, Maus ain’t nothin’.

My only gripe in Kingdom Come was (and still is) how Mark Waid gravely wrote Tagalog/Filipino so wrong.

I was very tempted to include Maus in my list

While I felt that the main story being a depiction of his Father’s narration caused characters to seem lacking in depth and emotion (except for occasional moments)
BUT the modern segments (the inclusion of which was a stroke of genius) provide these wonderfully

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