Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Before Alex Ross returns to Marvel, he first returns to the universe he helped create in DC's critically-acclaimed Kingdom Come way back in 1996:

The JSA gets its most powerful member ever: 'Kingdom Come' Superman! Alex Ross and Geoff Johns explain the effects for the DCU's first superteam.

By Ben Morse

Posted September 4, 2007 2:00 PM

The Justice Society of America gains a powerful new member, and he may be just the guy who blows the entire DC Universe straight to Kingdom Come.

Beginning in September’s Justice Society of America #9, series cover artist Alex Ross revisits the dystopian future of the fully painted, 1996 classic that put him and writer Mark Waid on the map as comic book superstars, in which a weary Superman returned to contend with a new generation of unruly superheroes. Along with Justice Society of America writer Geoff Johns and artist Dale Eaglesham, Ross promises to shake up the DCU’s most tenured heroes as the Man of Steel from the world of Kingdom Come joins the ranks of the JSA.

“In many ways, this story is almost the opposite of Infinite Crisis,” explains Johns, who also penned that tale. “In that story, we had a Superman come here and look down on our world, judging it unfavorably. This Superman sees our world as almost being heaven.”

Ross quickly points out that while the Superman who joins the Justice Society arrives from the world of Kingdom Come, he comes from a point before the story concluded, a crucially important distinction: “The importance of [Kingdom Come] was that, just like Dark Knight Returns was to have been the very last Batman story, this was the last big story of the DC Universe,” explains Ross. “They hang up their costumes at the end. So this is not the guy from after the last page of Kingdom Come; he’s pulled right out of the story.”

That said, how could the Justice Society potentially affect the outcome of their new ally’s tragic future?

Kingdom Come was more or less a world without a JSA,” notes Johns. “This story poses the question: If they had existed there, could they have made a difference?”

By the same token, the foreboding presence of the aged Man of Steel has some of the JSA’s younger members asking some hard questions. “It deeply affects Stargirl, who thinks she may ultimately fail to make a positive difference, but also some of the more troubled guys like Damage and Citizen Steel, who have to wonder if they could go wrong,” says Johns. “Does it make them try harder, or does it make them give up?”

While Kingdom Come may have been established as an alternate world in the new post-52 Multiverse, the presence of Superman serves to warn the JSA and the DCU that it could still well be what’s in store for them as well.

Kingdom Come is a timeless story of warning of what not to let happen to your world,” insists Ross. “It’s not definitely the future of DC—but it’s a haunting future that could be.”

Take a closer look as Alex Ross reveals the exclusive secrets behind the JSA's whereabouts during 'Kingdom Come'!

SOCIETY SCOOP: Superman’s feisty lieutenant during Kingdom Come, the all grown-up Power Woman displayed an even more aggressive attitude and pumped-up physique.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “I wanted to go back to the original [Power Girl artist] Wally Wood style, but also address that if she’s got these huge breasts, wouldn’t she also have this buff weightlifter type body? I based her upon this woman called Zap from the then-popular show ‘American Gladiators.’”


SOCIETY SCOOP: The Kingdom Come version of the Flash incorporated visual elements of Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West. In writer Mark Waid’s follow-up The Kingdom, he revealed the Scarlet Speedster in question to be West, humanizing the character and portraying him as the father of twin children, one of whom became Kid Flash.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “The [Kingdom Come] Flash was always intended to be a combination of the three Flashes, and the character was to be called Mercury with the young female Flash just being the new Flash. But then [writer] Mark [Waid] had him show up just as ‘The Flash’ in the first issue and renamed her Kid Flash in The Kingdom. It was always intended that she would be the daughter of Wally West and Linda [Park].”


SOCIETY SCOOP: Stationed in his emerald city orbiting the Earth, the stoic Green Lantern of Kingdom Come broke away from the common man ostensibly to guard his planet from extraterrestrial threats. After subtle hints, the KC GL stands revealed as Alan Scott when he joins the United Nations at the end of the tale.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “It was meant to be a bit of a mystery—could that be an older Hal Jordan? He’s got both the Golden and Silver Age Green Lantern symbols on his armor, and was meant to resemble Hal as Parallax. Ultimately, it’s shown to be Alan Scott, and the clue is in the final battle when Green Arrow pierces his armor with wooden arrows.”


SOCIETY SCOOP: An environmental terrorist, the Hawkman in Kingdom Come bore an inhuman avian appearance that the original Winged Warrior’s godson Northwind would adopt six years later in the Geoff Johns-penned JSA.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “Leading up to Kingdom Come, [then-Hawkman writer] William Messner-Loebs had done a lot of work establishing the source of Hawkman’s Nth metal as being this other-dimensional Hawk god. I [took] that beast form of the Hawk god and [made] it the next housing for Prince Khufu, the original Egyptian version of Hawkman.”


SOCIETY SCOOP: A background player in Superman’s new Justice League, Dr. Mid-Nite appeared as little more than a cloud of smoke beneath the character’s familiar cape and cowl in Kingdom Come.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “In doing what I did with Red Robin, it took away so much of the look of Dr. Mid-Nite that when I got to Mid-Nite, I had to come up with something to make him look distinctly different.”


SOCIETY SCOOP: An animalistic ally of Batman, Kingdom Come Wildcat’s background remained largely untapped. Tommy Bronson, the long-lost son of original Wildcat Ted Grant, recently showed up in Justice Society of America sporting a similar look.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “[The Kingdom Come] Wildcat was never intended to be Ted Grant. We don’t answer the question of what happened to Ted Grant, we just assume that…he would be too old to still be out there. One idea I had was that Ted Grant raised this new Wildcat who was dropped off on the doorstep of the JSA as a skinny cat-kid. He would be Ted’s spiritual descendant, but not literally his son.”

SOCIETY SCOOP: Another of Batman’s covert operatives, Obsidian forsook his traditional spandex in Kingdom Come for a pulpy jacket and fedora.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “[The design is 1940s pulp hero] the Shadow. The [current day] Obsidian is in his 20s, so 20 years from now [when Kingdom Come takes place], would he be wearing the same spandex outfit?”

SOCIETY SCOOP: Though she didn’t play a significant role, a redheaded bombshell with powers of wind manipulation calling herself Red Tornado did show up in Kingdom Come a decade before Maxine Hunkel became Cyclone in Justice Society of America.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “When Geoff was telling me about [Cyclone], I asked if she could be a redhead to hint that she’s [Red Tornado] from Kingdom Come. In Kingdom Come, I based the character on Cindy Crawford and made her a super-fox, but in [Justice Society of America], she’s more of a ‘girl next door’ type. My idea is that she has a bit of a Gwen Stefani look, where she’s a bit more approachable when she’s younger, but she’ll mature into that ‘va-vavoom kitty’ in the future.”


SOCIETY SCOOP: Three years before Sanderson Hawkins experienced a rebirth as Sand in JSA, Ross had the former Sandy the Golden Boy eschew the gas mask of his mentor Wesley Dodds—whose death set the events of Kingdom Come into motion—for the traditional superhero outfit of another former Sandman.

ROSS REVELATIONS: “I loved that old [1970s Jack] Kirby costume (inset). That was the very first Kirby comic I ever got as a kid, and it was a f---ing awesome costume, cooler than anything I had seen done with the Sandman. The coolest thing about Kingdom Come was that I had the chance to pay homage to anything I wanted to in any way I wanted to."

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