Best Shots Extra: JSA Kingdom Come Special - Superman

Best Shots Extra: JSA Kingdom Come

JSA Kingdom Come Special - Superman

Justice Society of America | Kingdom Come Special: Superman

Written and Illustrated by Alex Ross

Published by DC Comics

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A long story got a little longer this month when Justice Society of America's "One World, Under Gog" storyline got some extra depth in the form of three Kingdom Come specials. The first here, with the spotlight on Superman -- that is, the Superman of Earth-22 -- gets off to a respectable start, though revelations come at a premium. There's been many a mystery behind the appearance of this Superman in the contemporary DC Universe, and you may feel underwhelmed by book's end as to where the bigger story is going. Not always the best thing for a storyline so lengthy. Though recalling the sequel to the original Kingdom Come series, 1999's The Kingdom, I found this one issue to be patently better than anything that came from that little underachiever.

For one thing, artist Alex Ross' stamp has been all over this storyline, going back to the premiere issue of Justice Society of America, to be exact. As fantastic as Mark Waid's contribution was to the original series in the mid-Nineties, at least most of it, the KC Universe is pointless to even tackle if Alex Ross is not involved. This was his labor of love from the beginning, and it is evident in Justice Society of America | Kingdom Come Special: Superman, as Ross breaks some new ground here as an writer AND artist. As most of you got to see for yourself in sneak peeks made available earlier this week, Ross handles art chores throughout, and any fan of his will love the finished product in that several bonus pages at book's end provide detailed insight as to how he went about the entire creative process. It's truly insightful stuff. Pages and panels fully painted by Ross, as we've seen throughout "One World, Under Gog" (when the Man of Steel recalls the events that led him mysteriously from his Earth to the one already featuring a Superman), are actually in the minority here as he actually employs an all-pencils technique with colors done by Alex Sinclair. The step-by-step process is too much for me to cover here, but I will let you know that Ross doesn't ink his own penciled pages so much as he uses a combination of computer coloring and the blackest pencils available to create depth and definition. Whatever it is they did, Ross and Sinclair deliver a lustrous 23 pages of story -- these are pages to savor over time.

That was the other thing that threw me initially before further analysis. At first I was surprised to get four pages past the midway point only the reach the conclusion of "Superman." I half thought I mistakenly picked up an Image book with a dozen pages of story and just as many pages devoted to house ads. Ultimately, however, there are twelve pages of informative bonus material, so I didn't feel stiffed by the $3.99 price tag. 23 + 12 = not unreasonable. Storywise, we do get a whole lot of navel-gazing from the Man of Steel, something Ross seems to have a penchant for with this character (Superman: Peace on Earth comes to mind, as another example). All indications are that "Superman" picks up right after issue #20 of the main JSA book, and this team's resident Superman is finally taking some initiative to find out what the motives are behind his unexplained arrival on a world not his own. The story veers away from the specifics of "One World, Under Gog" and serves more as a serviceable update to the original Kingdom Come. When a potential terrorist incident at the Daily Planet distracts Superman from his fact-finding at JSA headquarters, he's forced to relive the most traumatic event of his life as Metropolis' protector. His subsequent soul-searching leads him to meet the counterpart of his old Earth's Norman McCay for possible insight into his plight, and later he encounters the one woman he cannot even look in the eye. Here we find that Superman's sorrow goes deeper than we even saw in Kingdom Come, and one can't help but hope that he soon finds peace. With Justice Society of America | Kingdom Come Special: Superman, Alex Ross successfully returns to a story that made him a DC Comics legend, but we'll probably know in a month if you can truly go home again.

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