Ok, I’m going to try and wrap this up today, but I keep coming up with more stuff, so if there’s a special part Four of Three, well consider yourselves warned, ok? Ok.
The next Superman story I want to discuss is technically not a Superman story at all, but rather about Rob Liefeld’s Superman knockoff, Supreme. Yep, I’m gonna talk about Moore’s run on Supreme. When Moore took on the writing duties of Supreme, he decided to go all in and give the character the full backstory that had only been hinted at in earlier comics. This meant giving the character many fake Golden and Silver Age adventures that had never actually happened, but were written and drawn so nicely, you wish they had been. But Moore wasn’t navel gazing, he used these “flashbacks” to examine the changes that happened in the comic industry over the decades since it’s creation. Particularly of interest is the issue (the number escapes me at the moment) where the Golden Age Allies face a menace resembling the EC Comics horror hosts on Dec. 31st, 1949. The adventure’s end leaves them with doubts and fear about the upcoming decade as the clock rings in the new year. Seduction of the Innocent and government inquiries loomed on the horizon for comics in the real world 1950’s.
But Moore’s Supreme wasn’t just a retro comic. He used the retro elements in flashbacks (mostly illustrated by Rick Veitch) to juxtapose against the more modern elements of comics. It was a combination retro/modern comic, taking the nostalgic feeling, putting it up against the current day and asking whether things really were better “way back then.” Something that Moore literally explores when the remaining Allies reunite in the present to rescue their missing Golden and Silver age friends.
Moore’s Supreme was so popular that it lead to him revamping Liefeld’s entire line of books. Unfortunately for those of us enjoying Moore’s work at the time, Liefeld’s company (Awesome Comics, actually on the verge of living up to that name) went out of business. The effects of this were many. Jeph Loeb, the main editor at Awesome returned to writing for Marvel and DC. At DC, Loeb worked on Superman proper, following Moore’s lead and reastablishing many Silver Age elements to the character to mixed results. Moore made a deal with Wildstorm to find work for himself and most of his Awesome collaborators to continue working and supporting themselves under a new line of comics. This line would be known as America’s Best Comics (and they frequently were. . .).
Moore’s Supreme is mostly uncollected, although Image has recently published Moore’s remaining Supreme scripts with full art, and Erik Larson has taken over the series.
Our feature image comes to you today from the final issue of Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s epic Kingdom Come. While KC is set amongst the broad landscape of a future DCU, it’s primary and pivotal character is Superman. A Superman who has spent a decade in retirement after failing to save Lois Lane from the evil of the Joker. Superman and most of his friends and allies have been replaced by a new breed of “superheroes” darker, more violent, not caring if innocent bystanders get hurt in their clashes. Superpowered gangs, essentially. ( The metaphor often used is “Image Era Type Characters” and there’s a bit of truth to that statement. Magog, considered the person to have taken Superman’s place, is a parody of Rob Liefeld’s Cable character. While Cable is owned by Marvel, the characters that Liefeld himself owns are pretty similar to the ones he created while at Marvel. )
Superman is urged out of retirement to end the violence and teach these new heroes how to behave before humanity itself decides to step in. The efforts of Superman and the Justice League, opposed not only by the new heroes, but also the remaining villains, and several of their old allies, seem ultimately doomed to failure as every step they take brings the world closer and closer to the brink. . .
The success of Kingdom Come spawned two different sequels years apart. The mostly unsuccessful Kingdom, which Ross left due to creative differences) started out as a proposal for an ongoing series set in the mainstream DCU. The heroes would be attempting to prevent the emergence of that particular dark future. Following Ross’ departure, the concept morphed into a “fifth week event” (wiki it, I don’t feel like explaining) involving a series of one shots focusing on different characters from the Kingdom Come world.
The second sequel taking place in the ongoing Justice Society title, saw Ross and Geoff Johns plot out a storyline where the KC Superman was thrown into the mainstream DCU during events in KC and temporarily joined the JSA. This storyline, Thy Kingdom Come, saw the emergence of KC’s Magog as his benefactor, (a being known as Gog that Ross had intended for the original Kingdom proposal) emerged and began attempting to “fix” the world and several members of the JSA. This rift in the team, partly generational, is partly overcome due to the efforts of the KC Superman, believing he’s lost one world, and being unwilling to lose another. Sound familiar?
Kingdom Come and JSA: Thy Kingdom Come are both available in collected editions from DC.
Okay, this has run on pretty long and I’ve still got more stuff to talk about, so look for part 4, probably next week. Enjoy your weekend, folks.