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Millennium – Kingdom Come (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Kingdom Come is a horrible misjudged episode of Millennium, and the show’s first truly spectacular misfire.

Kingdom Come was notably the first episode to air out of production order. It had been produced as the fourth episode following The Pilot, between Dead Letters and The Judge. However, the episode was broadcast as the sixth episode of the television season, after 5-2-2-6-6-6 and before Blood Relatives. The official reason given for this delay was the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in mid-November 1996, following a long and public battle with cancer. It was suggested that an episode about a serial killer targeting religious figures would have been in poor taste at the time.

A light in the darkness...

A light in the darkness…

Still, whatever the official reason given, it cannot help but feel like the production staff were hoping to bury a stinker a little deeper into the season. Kingdom Come is an episode that does not work on any number of levels, offering a rather patronising and condescending view of religious faith as explained through stilted exposition and trite cliché. The show’s observations about faith and hope feel more like sentiments from Hallmark greeting cards than observations on the human condition.

The result is an episode that embodies the worst traits of Millennium, feeling just as crass and sensationalist as it does hollow and superficial.

The episode really bombed...

The episode really bombed…

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Earth X (Review/Retrospective)

To get ready for Iron Man 3, we’ll be taking a look at some Iron Man and Avengers stories, both modern and classic. We hope to do two or three a week throughout the month, so check back regularly for the latest update.

“Your kind does love to rewrite history, Richards,” the Watcher observes towards the end of Earth X, after we get an introduction and brief recap of the life of Tony Stark. Almost every issue of the collection opens with a review of an iconic Marvel character’s back story, as writer Jim Krueger and plotter Alex Ross attempt to tie the tapestry of the Marvel universe together in some way. It turns out that everything a character underwent wasn’t just their own personal development, but part of a broader tapestry of history within the Marvel universe. No character evolution, it seems, happens in isolation. Everything is interconnected, even if we (or the writers or the characters) never realised it at the time.

Earth X is really just an attempt to tie most of the Marvel universe up in one gigantic knot, to connect everything to everything else. In a way, published in 1999, it seems to foreshadow the current era of Marvel publishing, where absolutely everything within in the shared universe must somehow be connected to something else. Avengers vs. X-Men, for example, would connect the Phoenix from the X-Men to the Iron Fist mythology. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men connected the Weapon X project to the development of Captain America. The X-Men and the Avengers must be united as part of Uncanny Avengers.

In many ways, Earth X reads more interestingly as a treatise than as a comic story. It’s far stronger as a thought-experiment than an actual narrative. It’s more fun on purely technical level, watching Jim Krueger and Alex Cross connect all those dots, than it is as an adventure in its own right.

Stellar...

Stellar…

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Justice Society of America – The Next Age, Thy Kingdom Come (Parts I, II & III) & Black Adam and Isis

With the Justice Society of America perhaps the most high-profile title excluded from DC’s upcoming relaunch, I thought I’d bid them farewell by taking a look at writer Geoff Johns’ second run on the title.

The Justice Society of America is one of those titles that DC does so well, one based on legacy. Admittedly Marvel has made some attempts in recent years (The Immortal Iron Fist stands out as a big example, as does Ed Brubaker’s Marvels Project – focusing on the World War II heroes adopted into Marvel’s pantheon), but DC have always handled the nostalgia so well. In fact, the relaunch of the Justice Society of America was prompted by the outstanding success of James Robinson’s original superhero generational saga, Starman. This collection represents the first set of arcs from the third volume – writer Geoff Johns was a veteran from the second volume, which (along with his writing on Flash) brought him to mainstream attention. So he knows the cast of characters and their world inside out.

Pin-ups...

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Absolute Kingdom Come

The nineties were a tough decade for the comic book medium. Violence sold. “Grim and gritty” represented the direction for most major comic books. Superman died. Batman was crippled. Green Lantern became a genocidal maniac. The Flash had long since abandoned the comic book universe. This was the era back-to-back Venom miniseries, the rise of Rob Liefeld and the lethal vigilante. A lot of people trace back this trend to the success of groundbreaking series like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, which demonstrated that darker imaginings of conventional superhero comics could sell. Of course, that wasn’t the point of the comics at all, but such complexity is not the speciality of managers and executives. However, if the birth of that so-called “Dark Age” of comic books could be traced back to those roots, then perhaps Kingdom Come can be identified as the birth of a counter-movement against such trends.

Superman brings a lot to the table...

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Absolute Justice

They’ve lost their power. And I’m not talking about magic genie-rings or batarangs. I’m speaking about their real power. You don’t need them anymore.

– Lex Luthor discusses superheroes

Are superheroes redundant? In many ways, they’ve formed the basis of an American mythology in the twentieth century – many fo the classical superheroes represent a pantheon of gods not unlike the Greek or the Roman conception of the same. This is particularly true of DC’s panel of major superheroes, who may as well sit atop Olympus looking down on humanity. However, the past few decades haven’t necessarily been kind to the notion of the superhero – increasingly deconstructed and darkened and shaded and compromised beyond any similarity to their original status – and you’d be forgiven for wondering whether the genre has passed its sell-by date. This is the question at the core of Justice, the twelve-part maxi-series by Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger.

A league of their own?

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