The superb artwork of Alex Ross is, for me, the primary strength of Kingdom Come, a graphic novel that struck me as “Marvels in reverse” for the DC Universe. Whereas Marvels mines the past, Kingdom Come speculates on the DC universe’s future: one in which the classic crimefighters have retired, and a new wave of reckless vigilantes rule the streets. Finally the situation deteriorates enough that Superman, alone and embittered, comes out of retirement to lead an attempt to re-establish order, which creates something of an ideological war among the world’s superpowered.
I didn’t grow up with the DC Universe, so Kingdom Come didn’t hold the same nostalgic charms for me that Marvels did — and features fewer familiar faces. But it’s a similarly compelling story, beautifully drawn and well written, with interesting subtexts about the ethics of power and order. Very cool stuff.