Friday, July 23, 2010

Kingdom Come

Grade: O
Title: Kingdom Come
Author: Mark Waid
Artist (or as he likes to call himself "painter"): Alex Ross

As you can tell from my grade, I was less than impressed with Kingdom Come. In fact, I would say that it is the most overrated graphic novel that I have read. It has so much hype - "great story" "terrific art" "It'll blow your mind!" Let me just say, I found that I disagreed with pretty much all of these observations. Part of me feels bad - as if I have missed something huge, but then the other part (the much larger part) knows that I'm right. Of course, the fact that the introduction to this book rubbed me the wrong way (call me crazy, but I don't take too well to patronizing narratives) did not help my outlook as I began to read.

Let's begin with the artwork (Yes, that is Superman in overalls sans shirt . . . . classy). This is what is usually highlighted the most within this work - everyone told me I would love Ross,; sadly, I did not find it so. I really wanted to like it. In fact, I felt like I should, but I just couldn't force myself. I do appreciate parts of it (which is why I didn't give it a "P"), but it just does not connect well with the story. The paintings (as they are referred to) seem to lack power and emotion at the most important parts. For example, when a superhero is winding up to hit someone it feels like it is simply a tableaux. We all know it is not really happening - a very bad sign in any kind of fiction or story.

Also, I feel like the images in this story are too inundated with bright, sunny light. It doesn't work for me when I find myself thinking of Thomas Kinkade,

which I try at all costs to avoid, rather than looking at say a Vermeer (who is a good example of a painter who is both realistic and uses light a great deal - of course, he does so much more successfully, as seen below).

Not only did the art fall short for me, so did the text. There were parts that simply did not ring true. For example, at one point in the story Spectre (who acts as a kind of guide) is talking with a priest (the prophet-esque person he is kind of guiding) about Superman. Spectre uses the term "otherworldly" to describe him, to which the priest responds, "Otherworldly . . . ? Of course. Superman is an alien." Now, let's break down why this statement didn't work (although I am sure they could give me a reason for putting it in): A) It simply didn't it in the context of the dialogue B) redundant for anyone who has ever known of Superman (which, one presumes, all are who would find themselves reading this book) and C) awkward in its flow and presentation. Also, there are elements that revealed a disconnect with plot follow through. For example, at one point the priest is pulled out of his placement in time and space, rendering him visible to Superman and the gang - they respond, but when he disappears they act like it is not a big deal. Very odd behavior and not believable.

Essentially, it comes down to the fact that I don't care about the story they have created. It is not believable to me at many points (which is unusual because I love fantasy - good fantasy - and these type of dystopic tales). I believe that the sun-inundated hyper-realism of the art just doesn't work with this story, which makes them both fail.

Now, don't get me wrong. This piece does have some elements that are good and even beautiful. For example, I quite enjoyed the irony and humor present in the restaurant of Superheroes where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are eating served by people dressed up as them ( as well as Nite Owl - in fact, all throughout this story there was little homages to Watchmen, as well as almost every comic book, which are pleasant enough to pick up on). There was also a very humorous moment to me when Batman and Superman are talking in the Bat-cave and Batman turns around and Superman has disappeared (as he was want to do) and he responds by saying "So that's what that feels like," which I really enjoyed because I love Batman so much.

Thus, there are some good parts in this piece - enough to perhaps merit a reading. Indeed, many people do love the art and this story, so you might as well. However, it falls far short for me and failed in just too many ways, forcing me to give an "O" (don't I feel harsh). Until next time; go enjoy some art!

1 comment:

  1. I will indeed enjoy some art - I liked the look of this book at first glance, but you're right, it doesn't ring quite right. Much like Tim Burton movies - in the opposite direction. I just don't enjoy them because they are "off" feeling to me due to the coloring. But I don't think you would agree with the comparison perhaps. Smooch!