Kingdom Come #3 Annotations
(updated 18 December 2000)
[Annotator's Note: the page number in parentheses is the page number of the bound edition; I've retained the original numbering of the separate issues]
All descriptions, unless specifically noted otherwise, are done moving left to right and top to bottom within a panel or a page.
Front Row: Tula, Blue Beetle II, Red Hood, Flash IV, Green Lantern VI, Batman, Captain Marvel, Black Canary III.
Second Row: Phantom Lady II, Spy Smasher, Darkstar, Fate, Nightstar, Condor, Lightning, Oliver Queen, Dinah Queen.
Third Row: Steel, Menagerie, Ralph Dibny, Mr. Scarlet, Obsidian, Wildcat III, Nuculoid.
Last Row: Bat-Knight, Deadman, Huntress III, Cossack, Ace II, Batwoman II, John Jones, Mysteryman, Zatara II, Samurai, Dragon, Bat-Knight, Creeper.
Tula is described in the card set as "seafaring malcontent and daughter of Aquaman II." The Revelations supplement says this about her:
The Revelations genealogy establishes that, as unofficially rumored, Tula's mother is "Mizuko Perkins," aka Deep Blue (recently introduced into the DC universe in Aquaman), who is in turn the child of Tsunami and Neptune Perkins, the World War Two heroes formerly with the Young All-Stars. The idea for Tula's mother to be Deep Blue was originally Leah Adezio's.
The Revelations supplement gives the following information about Blue Beetle II:
Red Hood is Lian Harper, the daughter of Red Arrow (Roy Harper, formerly Speedy) and the villainess Cheshire. The Revelations supplement says this about her:
Flash IV is the daughter of Wally West (the Kingdom Come Flash III), and (according to the Revelations supplement) Angela Margolin (who was recently introduced in The Flash). Flash IV's costume is very similar to the costume that Wally West wore as Kid Flash I, while he was with the Teen Titans. The Revelations supplement says this about her:
The card set describes Green Lantern VI (currently known, in DC continuity, as the heroine Jade) as "daughter of Green Lantern I and Harlequin, and a living battery of the Lantern's power." The Revelations supplement also adds this:
The card set describes Batman as "a master strategist, and still the world's greatest detective."
The card set describes Captain Marvel in this way:
The Revelations supplement adds this information about Black Canary III:
Phantom Lady II is the Kingdom Come version of the GA heroine Phantom Lady and is described in the card set as "a literal phantom of the original." As Mark Coale notes, she seems to be visually based on Bettie Page, the 1950s pin-up queen.
Spy Smasher is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero seen in various Fawcett comics and recently introduced into the DC universe in the pages of Power of Shazam. The card set describes Spy Smasher as an "independent operative in the post-Cold War world." The Revelations supplement says:
Darkstar is Robert Long, the son of Donna Troy and Terry Long, Donna's first husband. Darkstar is wearing the uniform of the Darkstars, the galactic police force created by the alien Controllers; Donna Troy was a member of the Darkstars, and the card set describes Darkstar as "inheritor of her Darkstar role." His blond hair is inherited from his father. As Donald MacPherson notes, in an alternate DC future Donna Troy's son became a dictator named Lord Chaos, who had long, curly hair, just like Darkstar. Al Schroeder and Marc Singer also note that Robert Long's uniform is a combination of the Darkstar uniform and the caduceus, the symbol of Mercury--fitting, given Donna Troy's mythological background. The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Fate is the Kingdom Come version of the DC hero Dr. Fate. The card set describes it this way: "the Helmet of Nabu, a talisman that no longer needs a human host." The Revelations supplement adds the following:
Nightstar is the daughter of Nightwing (Red Robin) and Starfire. The Revelations supplement says this about her:
Condor is the Kingdom Come version of the DC hero Black Condor. The card set describes him as the "current inheritor of the Black Condor mantle." The Revelations supplement adds this:
Oliver Queen is described in the card set as "formerly Green Arrow, now married to Dinah Lance, Black Canary II."
Dinah Lance Queen is described in the card set this as "formerly Black Canary II."
Steel is the Kingdom Come version of the DC hero Steel, and the card set says he "has switched his devotion from Superman to Batman, and is accented with his bat-shaped battle ax." Alex Ross has said that the Kingdom Come Steel is a version of the character if he'd come under the influence of The Batman after Superman retired, rather than being influenced only by Superman, as he was/is in current DC continuity. (Thanks to Randy Patton and David J. Snyder for correcting my errors here).
Menagerie is described in the Revelations supplement as
Mr. Scarlet is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age hero seen in various Fawcett comics and recently introduced into the DC universe in the pages of Power of Shazam. Mr. Scarlet is described in the card set as "blue-collar bruiser, with bright red skin."
Obsidian is described in Revelations supplement as
Wildcat III is described in the Revelations supplement as
The Revelations supplement states the following about the Huntress III:
Cossack is described in the card set as the "champion of Russia, from the Batmen of many nations." DC had a tradition, pre-Crisis, that Batman (and Green Arrow) had inspired other, non-American crimefighters to take up costumes and war against evil; Detective Comics #215, "The Batmen of All Nations," listed them as the Legionary (Italy), the Ranger (Australia), the Musketeer (France), the Knight (Robin), and the Gaucho ("South America"); Batman #65 added "Northern Europe's Wingman" to the list. The Cossack, Samurai and Dragon were not seen in these issues, but their inclusion here is a logical extrapolation of that trend, as well as being a nice nod to the international-Batmen tradition. The Revelations supplement adds this about the Cossack:
Ace II is described in the card set as "otherworldy bat-hound, and Batwoman II's steed."
Batwoman II is described in the card set as "Batman admirer from the Fourth World." Obviously there is some backstory here. How did a Fourth World god become enamored of The Batman? In the 1940s and 1950s there was a tradition that the Batman had inspired beings on other worlds and in other, future times to fight evil; Waid and Ross may be making a reference to that long-lost tradition here. The Revelations supplement says the following about Batwoman II & Ace II:
John Jones is described in the card set as "former Martian Manhunter, now has psychological problems."
Mysteryman is described in the card set as "one of Batman's fellow crimefighters." Chris Gumprich and Hunter Rose point out that there was a Silver Age Batman story (Detective Comics #245, "The Dynamic Trio") in which Batman teamed up with a green-suited hero called "Mysteryman." The hood of that "Mysteryman" (who was later revealed to be Commissioner Gordon) is quite similar to the one seen here.
The Revelations supplement says this about Zatara II:
The Revelations genealogy reveals that Zatara II's father was John Constantine.
Samurai is described in the card set as "champion of Japan, from the Batmen of many nations." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Dragon is described in the card set as "champion of China, from the Batmen of many nations." The Revelations supplement adds this:
The Creeper is the Kingdom Come version of the DC hero, and is described in the card set as an "aging, wretched screwball superhero."
As was pointed out by Waid/Ross, while the original Teen Titans--Flash III (most likely Wally, formerly Flash IV), Red Arrow (formerly Speedy), Red Robin (formerly Robin, formerly Nightwing) Aquaman II (formerly Aqualad), and Donna Troy (formerly Wonder Girl) are siding with Superman, their children--Flash IV, Red Hood, Nightstar, Tula, and Darkstar--are aligned with The Batman.
As James E. Heath pointed out, all of the characters on the cover are lit from below, with the exception of Captain Marvel and Deadman. Symbolic, as he said, of intimate connections with higher powers, perhaps?
Page 1 (111). The Biblical quotation accompanying Norman McCay's vision of Captain Marvel is Revelation 10:3. As Donald MacPherson points out, this is an indication that Captain Marvel's role in the story is about to become important, even paramount.
Page 2 (112). Spectre once again points out to McCay that his role in Kingdom Come is as the divine judge; those events that are played out in the pages of this series are, in a very real sense, only the preliminaries to the Spectre's final judgment, and given the character, that judgment will indeed be final. McCay's role, conversely, is to lead the Spectre to that judgment; while the Spectre is McCay's spirit guide, in somewhat the same way that Virgil led Dante through Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in the Divine Comedy, the Spectre's knowledge of the future is as limited as McCay's. They are companions in this respect, rather than mentor and student.
"Ragnarok" is the Norse twilight of the gods, the final apocalyptic battle in which the Norse gods will die. Interestingly, one man and one women survive Ragnarok, and they go on to raise a new race of gods in a world of complete love and peace. Waid and Ross might be implying, through the Spectre's choice of this word, that an archetypal Adam-and-Eve couple may survive the coming battle--perhaps Superman and Wonder Woman (or, as Just Joe suggests, maybe Nightstar and Ibn Al Xu'ffasch)? This follows a similar implication in issue #1 in the Fortress of Solitude scene.
Page 3 (113). Superman's Gulag is visually based on the Hall of Doom, the headquarters of the Legion of Doom in the Challenge of the Super-Friends cartoon. The fact that the Gulag is a visual double of the Hall of Doom, and that the Spectre himself (a divinely appointed instrument of vengeance) calls the prison a "gulag," with all the connotations that word has gathered (it was originally a Russian acronym for the Soviet department responsible for "corrective labor"), is indicative of the way in which the moral centers of the series--Superman, Wonder Woman, and their fellow heroes in the Justice League--have lost their moral edge, and come much closer to the moral gray zone inhabited by their opponents.
Tony Pi notes the padlock design on the fins, quite fitting for a prison.
Pages 4-5 (114-115). The inside of the Gulag is a considerable contrast to both the exterior of the Gulag and the Kansas milieu in which it is placed--which is part of the point, of course.
Panel 1: Shade III, Demon Damsel, Nowhere Man (last seen in issue #2), Stealth II, Fantom of the Fair, Tyrant-Tula, Jeepers, Black Manta II, Killer Moth II, Shining Knight II, Dragonknight, Blue Devil II, Hawk II & Dove II, a Gulag-bot (my name for what the Waid/Ross Annotations calls a "Kryptonian-armored robot guard), and Rag Doll (lower right).
Shade III is the Kingdom Come version of the DC hero Shade, the Changing Man--not the Vertigo version, but the traditional, heroic character who appeared in his own comic in the 1970s and in the pages of Suicide Squad.
Tyrant-Tula (so named by the Waid/Ross Annotations) is a new character and was designed by Tony Akins.
Jeepers is the Kingdom Come version of a Fawcett character and opponent of Captain Marvel; he was an intelligent bat-monster and stooge of Mister Mind and served in Mind's Monster Society of Evil.
Black Manta II is the Kingdom Come version of the DC character (originally a male) and enemy of Aquaman I; we get a better view of her on page 7 (117), panel 1.
Killer Moth II is the Kingdom Come version of the Batman villain Killer Moth.
Shining Knight II is the Kingdom Come version of the Shining Knight, a GA DC hero & member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Shining Knight II's colors change as it moves from background to background; here it is black/silver/grey, while later, on page 7 (117), panel 6, it has a golden color
Several people noted that the "Gulag-Bot" seems to be based on the Kryptonian Battlesuits, which we saw on page 25 of issue #1, in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.
As Donald MacPherson noted, we can see the yellow grid of Superman's holographic technology on the top of the Gulag's dome, while the architecture of the Gulag is obviously derived from the Greek buildings of Wonder Woman's home, Paradise Island. There is an ironic, inner conflict here between paradise and prison.
Similarly, while the Gulag's interior is pastoral and placid in appearance, the uppermost level of the Gulag is ringed by arches similar to those ringing the Colosseum in Rome--a perhaps deliberate symbolic equation between those unfortunates forced to fight in the Colosseum, and the metahuman inhabitants of the Gulag? The Revelations supplement says the following about the Gulag:
Panel 2: Scott Free is the civilian identity of the hero Mr. Miracle; he is the child of the Fourth World New Gods Izaya Highfather and Avia (a different Avia from the heroine in this series). His mustache-less beard is similar to the beard of Izaya Highfather. As Donald MacPherson notes, his role as a jailer, rather than as an escape artist, is "consistent with the various role reversals we've seen in Kingdom Come so far." Donald also notes that the circuitry/tech-gear on his left arm could be a new configuration of the Mother Box, the sentient computer that guided him through many of his adventures.
Of the characters in the viewscreen panels: Pinwheel, Jade Fox, Mantis II, Fiddler, Kongo, Big Barda, Demon Damsel, Magog, Killer Moth II, Gulag-Bot, and Barda again.
Jade Fox is the woman in green in the lower left hand corner of panel 2, who was last seen blasting Red Arrow in issue #2, page 31 (89), panel 2; Tony Pi translates the ideogram tattooed over her left eye as "Hu'," meaning "orphaned, alone, abandoned."
Mantis II is a new character.
Fiddler (silhouetted figure playing a violin) is the Kingdom Come version of the Golden Age DC villain the Fiddler.
Kongo (with troll-doll hair) is a new character.
Big Barda is the New God, heroine, and wife to Scott Free. She is visually different--the eyepatch is a new addition for her--but she has Barda's mega-rod and, as Kenneth Jennings points out, the red hexagons on the belt and the black arm- and wrist-bands with golden circles that Barda always wore. Gustavus also points out the similarities between the physical build of this character and that of the DC continuity Big Barda.
Page 6 (116).
Panel 1: April Fool, Black Mongul (silhouetted), Goblin Lord, Stealth II, Buddha (silhouetted), Bloodlust, Somnambulist, Catwoman II, Tokyo Rose, Iron Bow, Big Barda, Blue, Gulag-Bot, Spade, Kongo and Nightmaster.
April Fool and Goblin Lord are visually based on, respectively, Columbia and Riff-Raff from the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Goblin Lord is also very reminiscent visually of Max Schreck's "Nosferatu" in the film of the same name.
Bloodlust is a new character, described in the Revelations supplement in this way:
Somnambulist is a new character.
Iron Bow, the stone-colored character on horseback, is a new character, based visually on a statue of a Native American on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Spade is a new character. The Waid/Ross Annotations identify him as based on "artist David Williams's signature persona."
The original Nightmaster was a 1970s DC sword-and-sorcery hero; it is unclear whether this is meant to be the same character, or the Kingdom Come version.
Panel 2: The repentant Magog; judging from the fallen (or thrown) wineglass, he is dealing with his captivity and his guilt no better than he dealt with his freedom. Although, as Just Joe points out, he isn't really confined to his cell, based on the freedom of movement that the other prisoners have.
Panel 4: Iron Bow, Norman McCay, Spectre, Gulag-Bot, Iron Butterfly, Oggar, Swastika, Goat-Man, White, Superman, Ibac, 666, Mr. Banjo, Crocodile Man, King Kull, Demon Damsel, and Mr. Mulch (with cigarette).
Iron Butterfly is, as Thad Doria points out, visually quite similar to the robot in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which in turn was the model for the robot villain Mechanique, who appeared in DC's All-Star Squadron. Michael Cavanagh completes the reference by noting that the blue wings were added on to the figure for the cover of the first Iron Butterfly album.
Oggar is the Kingdom Come version of Oggar, who was originally a Fawcett character, the "World's Mightiest Immortal." Oggar put up quite a fight against Captain Marvel across six issues, a minor record for Captain Marvel opponents.
Goat-Man (seen in silhouette here and more fully on page 7 (117), panel 5) is be the Kingdom Come version of the Goat-Man, originally a Fawcett character who was a minion of Mr. Mind in the Monster Society of Evil.
Ibac is the Kingdom Come version of Ibac, who was originally a Fawcett character. Ibac sold his soul to the devil in exchange for great power, but who never managed to best Captain Marvel; later, Ibac served in the Monster Society of Evil under Mr. Mind.
Mr. Banjo is the Kingdom Come version of Mr. Banjo, originally a Fawcett character who was a spy for the Axis and enemy of Captain Marvel.
Crocodile Man is the Kingdom Come version of one of the Crocodile Men of the planet Punkus. They were a part of the original Monster Society of Evil.
King Kull is the Kingdom Come version of King Kull, originally a Fawcett character and enemy of Captain Marvel. King Kull was the last survivor of a prehistoric race of Beastmen.
Mr. Mulch (so identified by the Waid/Ross Annotations) is a National Lampoon character.
C. Boldman points out that the hologram of Superman sports a double-S hair curl, rather than the traditional single-S curl.
Mark Semich and Jerry Stratton note that Superman's words in this panel are a direct quote from both of Elliot S. Maggin's Superman novels, Last Son of Krypton and Miracle Monday.
Page 7 (117).
Panel 1: White, Joker's Daughter II, Swastika, Marley, Jeepers, 666, Superman, Black Manta II, Demon Damsel, Stripes, Von Bach.
Marley is a new character; s/he is the figure on the edge of the Colosseum above Superman's first word-balloon.
Panel 2: Von Bach, Stripes, Mr. Banjo, Crocodile Man.
Stripes' "Who bagged Eclipso...who toasted Ra's Al Ghul" certainly implies that these more violent "heroes" did achieve one thing: the deaths of some of the more dangerous villains. Eclipso was a villain of various powers who was recently revealed to be a warped version of the Spectre; and Ra's Al Ghul, mentioned in passing in issue #2, was one of The Batman's most dangerous enemies. As well, here and on the rest of the page, Stripes and 666 actually make some valid points in attempting to rebut Superman's argument. Again, the moral boundaries between Superman and the imprisoned metahumans is not nearly so well-defined as they originally appeared.
Just Joe he notes that the "Who bagged Eclipso" line further establishes the distance between Superman and the new breed of hero; Superman spent his life helping to stop Ra's and Eclipso from criminal acts, while the new kids simply stopped Ra's and Eclipso from being. This is true; but Superman and the Justice League, by imprisoning the amoral new heroes without due process and seemingly without much legal justification, are violating any number of the prisoners' civil rights, and that is a very slippery slope to start down.
Panel 3: The Slaughter Brigade, mentioned here by 666, are new characters.
Panel 5: Gulag-Bot, Oggar, 666, and Goat-Man.
Panel 6: Stripes, Von Bach, 666, Iron Butterfly, Killer Moth II, White, Joker's Daughter II, and Shining Knight II.
Page 8 (118).
Panel 1: Captain Comet, Gulag-Bot, and Big Barda.
Panel 2: Von Bach, 666, Joker's Daughter II, Spectre, Norman McCay, Captain Comet, Gulag-Bot, Big Barda, Stripes, and, in flight, Shade III and Stealth II.
Von Bach calls Captain Comet a "pig-dog," a bad insult in German (Stefan Ullrich notes that "schweinhund" should actually be "schweinehund"). The word on Von Bach's left forearm is "hass," the German word for hate. In issue 2 we saw the German word for love on Von Bach's right forearm. Robert Mitchum's demented, evil preacher, in the film version of Night of the Hunter, had the words "love" and "hate" tattooed on his right and left hand (in somewhat the same manner that the Kingdom Come Mr. Terrific has "good sport" on his hands in issue #1). Given the depth of detail Ross and Waid have poured into this issue, this parallel is likely not coincidental.
Panel 4: (working clockwise from Von Bach), Pinwheel, Salamander, Cathedral, Fantom of the Fair, Trix, King Kull, Mr. Mulch, 666, Swastika (back of his head visible), Stripes, Ibac, Hippieman, and Kabuki Kommando.
Hippieman (identified as such by the Waid/Ross Annotations) is visually based on Glenn Carnagey, who is, as Michael Chary pointed out, a long-time net.personality and friend to Alex Ross.
Von Bach is being blasted off his feet by Captain Comet, who is a powerful telekinetic, among other things.
Panel 5: Hippieman, Captain Comet, King Kull, Von Bach and Kabuki Kommando.
Von Bach (in German): "No threat, Kosmonaut."
Kabuki Commando (in Japanese): "He's heavier than he looks." (Thanks to Tony Pi for translating this)
Von Bach's statement, "No threat, Kosmonaut," is, in my view, directed not at Hippieman, but rather at Captain Comet; given the meaning of the word "Kosmonaut" (a Russian word for astronaut), it seems to apply much more to Captain Comet than to Glenn Carnagey. Stefan Ullrich notes that Mr. Waid was apparently using an English-German dictionary published in the German Democratic Republic (the pre-unification East Germany); "kosmonaut" was the GDR word for astronaut.
Page 9 (119).
Panel 1: Hippieman, Von Bach, Kabuki Commando, White, Joker's Daughter II (not Columbia as I originally thought--thanks to Mike Schmidt for correcting my error), Blue, Manotaur, Big Barda, "Gulag-Bot," Stripes, Thunder, Swastika, Stars, Oggar. Flying is Dragonknight.
Von Bach (in German): "I will kill that guy."
Kabuki Commando (in Japanese): "Don't get mad at me...get mad at him!" (Thanks to Tony Pi for translating this)
Panel 4: Swastika, Fantom of the Fair, Marley, Stripes, Stealth II, Jeepers, Goat-Man, Stars, Crocodile Man, Dragonknight, Kabuki Kommando and Hippiman.
The discontented and angry looks on the prisoners' faces is another indication of how high the tensions are running in the Gulag.
Panel 6: Red, Lex Luthor, Captain Marvel.
How Red escaped capture is a question that may perhaps never be answered. Moreover, Luthor's control over Red seems to imply (as Dave Van Domelen suggested) that Red, White and Blue's attack upon the Americommando and the Minutemen in the beginning of issue #2 was perhaps engineered by Luthor, possibly with the sole intent of getting White into the custody of the heroes so that Luthor could monitor the prisoners; ideally, Luthor is crafty and forward-looking enough to pull this sort of maneuver off successfully.
As well, there's a multi-layered symbolism in this panel. The imprisoned metas are being watched by both Scott Free, their jailer, and Lex Luthor, who wishes to exploit them. Luthor is being watched by McCay and the Spectre, who will judge Luthor. Luthor in turn is being watched by Ross, their creator (for this comic, at least), and by the readers, who are exploiting him (in the sense that we are using the comic for our own entertainment and enlightenment). It may be far-fetched, but, given the statement Ross and Waid made in the first two issues about the state of the comics industry today, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Ross and Waid may be making a statement about the comic's audience and our complicity in creating the shallow, violent, grim-n-gritty (tm) "heroes" that Magog represents.
Or perhaps this is all in my head.
Page 10 (120). The Cosmic Conference, what the Waid/Ross Annotations refer to as "The Quintessence." We see Zeus, Phantom Stranger, Shazam, Ganthet, and Izaya Highfather. The Revelations supplement says this about the Quintessence:
Zeus is, of course, the leader of the Greek pantheon of gods. He is also, as Mark McConnell pointed out, one of the sources of Captain Marvel's powers, as well as being one of the gods that the Amazons of Themyscyra worship. Rob Harris notes that his portrayal here is similar to his appearance in the Greek myth sequence of Fantasia.
The Phantom Stranger is a character of some mystery and stature within the DC universe; his precise origin has never been determined, and theories range from the Wandering Jew to a fallen angel.
Shazam is the aged wizard/god who granted Captain Marvel his powers.
Ganthet is, in current DC continuity, the last remaining Guardian of the Universe, the group of figures who acted as universal overseers and who gave the Green Lantern Corps their powers. The Revelations supplement adds that Ganthet "supervised the passing of Green Lantern's mantle from Hal Jordan to Kyle Rayner and, in time, to Jade."
Izaya Highfather, mentioned earlier as Scott Free's father, is the leader of the New Gods of New Genesis. His seeming contempt for humans is a new wrinkle to the character, and, as the Spectre points out, not, perhaps, to be taken seriously. The "grand life equation" that he speaks of is presumably the opposite of the Anti-Life Equation which Darkseid (Izaya's opposite and arch-enemy) seeks and which will give Darkseid control over all life; Thomas Howard corrects my original observation and notes that something similar to the "grand life equation" was mentioned in New Gods #1.
Through the simple move of making the Cosmic Overlords much, much larger than McCay and Deadman, Ross and Waid successfully give Zeus, Izaya, the Stranger, Ganthet and Shazam the appearance of being truly powerful beings, cosmic in scope. This is a subtly managed effect, but a well executed one, I think. And as Just Joe pointed out, placing them beneath Earth illustrates their symbolic position; they are extremely powerful, but at the same time they are servants of humanity, rather than our masters.
Interestingly, it is Shazam who is pleading humanity's case with the other cosmic powers. Zeus has traditionally (in the DC universe, at least) kept himself apart (mostly) from humanity's affairs, but each of the other entities have involved themselves in the goings-on of the Earth. The noticeably-quiet Phantom Stranger was more often a detached observer than an active participant, but Ganthet and the other Guardians of the Universe, through their Green Lantern Corps, often took an active role in Earthly happenings. As well, Shazam seems to be pleading his case more on behalf of Captain Marvel than for humanity; and Ganthet, who might be thought to have some sort of attachment to Earth or the happenings upon it due to the direct involvement of Jade, aka Green Lantern VI, refuses to take part.
Page 11 (121). The spirit with whom Norman McCay speaks is Deadman, formerly the aerialist Boston Brand who was made into the agent of a higher power (as he says in panel 5) after his death.
As several people pointed out, Deadman's chatty, goofily-sarcastic manner is a change from his original, angst-ridden conception but is relatively close to the way in which he has been portrayed in the 1980s and 1990s, since Alan Moore wrote him that way in Swamp Thing Annual #2. Many folks also pointed out that his skeletal appearance here is a change from his original portrayal but is in line with his more recent appearances. Rob Harris notes that his appearance here resembles the medieval illustrations of Death as a skeleton, with strips of flesh and muscle hanging from the bones. Craig Kostelecky quotes Ross to the effect that Deadman's skeletal appearance signifies Boston Brand's "acceptance of his fate." The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Page 12 (122). The "Rama Kushna" that Deadman mentions in panel 1 is the name of the "Eastern Deity" that allowed Boston Brand's spirit to live on and fight evil after his death.
Deadman's comments on the evolution of the Spectre's character is in line with the character's history. As Elayne Wechsler-Chaput points out, the Deadman's down-to-earth (so to speak) nature is counterpointed with the Spectre, whose character has become even farther alienated from humanity than any of the cosmic beings with whom he is discussing matters.
Page 13 (123). The Brainiac Superman mentions here was one of Superman's deadliest enemies, an alien robot (pre-Crisis).
Superman mentions that he buried part of Brainiac on Argo, which is a reference to Argo City, a piece of Krypton which survived the planet's destruction; it is most notable as being the birthplace of the pre-Crisis Supergirl, but has recently appeared in DC Continuity. As Michael Denton notes, this fate is somewhat poetic justice for Brainiac, who (in pre-Crisis continuity) stole Kandor, Krypton's capital, from Krypton before the planet exploded.
Donald MacPherson notes that Superman, in panel 3, refers to his secret identity as another person, further evidence of the disassociation between Superman and his past.
As a few people pointed out, while Wonder Woman is restricted to a breathing apparatus and helmet, Superman needs only a radio and earpiece to speak with Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman here slips up and calls Superman "Clar--Kal"--another indication, perhaps, that Wonder Woman, like the Batman, is having a hard time dealing with the disappearance of Superman's civilian identity?
Michael Hazlett notes that both Superman and Wonder Woman were holding on to her lasso of truth in this scene. We can presumably take what they are saying at face value.
Clifford Schexnayder offers the following reflections on Clark's Pulitzer and his job as a reporter:
Donald MacPherson usefully notes that Wonder Woman's trial, described here, can be seen as a parallel to the trial of Magog. The freeing of Magog went against all of Superman's morals, so he rejected the verdict, and the society which produced it, and left. The verdict of Wonder Woman's trial went against all of her efforts, so she adjusted her outlook, unlike Superman.
Several people (but not me, originally) caught the (in retrospect obvious) symbolism of Wonder Woman's actions and Superman's actions in this sequence. Superman throws a small rock against several asteroids, knowing exactly where it will go and causing no damage. Wonder Woman throws a larger rock and shatters an asteroid; her control is not nearly the equal of Superman's. Superman then uses Wonder Woman's golden lasso to rope together the asteroid that Wonder Woman has just destroyed; he mends what she has broken. This mirrors their discussion, in which Wonder Woman's more militaristic tone is opposed by Superman's pacifistic argument. In a sense, Wonder Woman and Superman have switched places from their original, Golden Age conception; in Superman's early appearances he was rough and exercised little restraint with his enemies, while Wonder Woman was always precise in her violence and seemed desirous of peace, rather than combat.
Page 16 (126). Waid and Ross must have known that this page would remind some readers of the events in Miracleman #15, one of the grimmest issues of a superhero comic ever published. Marvelman was a thinly-veiled British copy of Captain Marvel published in the 1950s by the British publisher L. Miller and Sons; Alan Moore brought the character back in the 1980s (renamed "Miracleman" to avoid a lawsuit from Marvel Comics). In Miracleman #15 the hero waged a fierce battle against his ally-turned-enemy Kid Miracleman; most of London was leveled during the battle, which was preceded by Kid Miracleman's massacre of most of London's citizens in the most gruesome ways that writer Alan Moore could think of. As a reviewer for the Comic Journal said, the issue should have been wrapped in brown paper. Unfortunately, as we saw then and see now, this sort of slaughter would be all too real a possibility, given a no-holds-barred super-being fight. The fact that we see characters from the Fawcett line of comics, perhaps the most innocent of the Big Three superhero publishers of the Golden Age, makes this scene all the more sobering, and frightening.
Panel 1: Mr. Atom, Captain Nazi, Mr. Scarlet, Bulletman II, Black Adam, and Sivana.
The running figures are Fat Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman, Jr., Billy Batson, Uncle Dudley, Hill Billy Batson, and Mary Batson, holding on to a Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny doll.
Mr. Atom was originally an indestructible robot, powered by atomic energy, who proved to be Captain Marvel's toughest opponent.
Captain Nazi was the Aryan Nazi version of Captain Marvel, although not as tough (goodness being equated with toughness in the Fawcett comics). His costume here is somewhat different from his original, Fawcett costume, being a lighter shade of green, and the swastika chest emblem is horizontal, rather than being point down and in a circle.
Black Adam is the Kingdom Come version of the Fawcett character and Captain Marvel opponent Black Adam, who had been Captain Marvel's Egyptian predecessor but had become corrupted by his power. His costume here is different from the one he originally wore, with armored leggings and an Egyptian-style wrap around his waist. He also has an eye-beam power, which the original, Fawcett Black Adam lacked.
The robot ship is called "Sivana" in the Waid/Ross Annotations. It bears the profile of Dr. Sivana, originally a Fawcett character and the arch-enemy to Captain Marvel. It also incorporates elements from the post-Crisis Brainiac (mentioned by Superman on page 13 (123), above), who flew a massive metal ship, complete with tentacles. Sivana, here, is quite similar in appearance to Brainiac's metal ship, which was shaped in the profile of Brainiac, just as Sivana here bears the profile of Sivana. Sivana seems to be holding the corpse of someone or something in two of its tentacles--perhaps Pinky the Whiz Kid, the partner of the original Mr. Scarlet, or Bulletman's partner, Bulletgirl?
Fat Billy Batson was a Fawcett character and civilian identity of one of the Lieutenant Marvels (and member of Captain Marvel's Squadron of Justice), three children named Billy Batson (Fat Billy was a porky Brooklynite) who read about Captain Marvel in the comics and decided to see if they could get superpowers by saying the magic word "Shazam." They did, and became the Lieutenants Marvel, sidekicks and assistants to Captain Marvel.
Freddy Freeman, Jr. was the lame (literally--he had to make use of a crutch) civilian identity of Captain Marvel, Jr., who in Kingdom Come is King Marvel.
Billy Batson, seen here wearing his traditional red shirt (and unfortunately being blown apart), is the civilian identity of Captain Marvel.
Uncle Dudley is...well, to make a long story short, he's someone pretending to be Mary Batson's uncle and pretending to be one of the Marvels. He was modeled originally on W.C. Fields, but was much mellower.
Hill Billy Batson was the civilian identity of Hill Marvel, another of the Lieutenant Marvels.
Mary Batson is the twin sister of Billy Batson who shared Billy's ability to turn into a superbeing; Mary Batson would say the magic word and turn into the heroine Mary Marvel.
The doll Mary Batson is holding is a Hoppy the Marvel Bunny doll; Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, in Fawcett Funny Animals #1, was reading an issue of "Captain Marvel Comics" (not one of the Fawcett line) and decided to see if saying the magic word would work for him. It did, and he became Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, the World's Mightiest Bunny.
As Rob Harris pointed out, the silver arms of Bulletman and Bulletgirl is a reference by Ross to the 1970s Bulletman doll, which was a part of the G.I. Joe line of action figures. The Bulletman doll had no connection to the Fawcett character, but looked like him, with the exception of the silver arms, something that the original Bulletman lacked.
Panel 2: Freddy Freeman (in silhouette, being thrown back by the force of an explosion), Black Adam, Bulletman II, Spy Smasher II, and the corpses of Tall Billy, Hill Billy, Mary Batson, Hoppy and Billy Batson.
The newspaper headline identifies the enemy that is fighting the Fawcett heroes: the Monster Society of Evil. In the early 1940s the evil alien worm Mr. Mind gathered together the greatest assemblage of evil superbeings ever seen: The Monster Society of Evil. Captain Marvel defeated them, but only after almost three years of continual fighting. Interestingly, Mr. Atom and Black Adam were never part of the original Monster Society of Evil; their inclusion here significantly increases the threat and menace of the Monster Society of Evil. (Lou Mougin usefully corrects me and notes that both Black Adam and Mr. Atom -were- in the last version of the Monster Society of Evil, which appeared in the Shazam series in World's Finest Comics)
The newspaper is called the "Fawcett Journal," a reference to both Fawcett City, the home to Captain Marvel in the DC Universe, as well as to Fawcett Comics, the original publishers of the adventures of Captain Marvel et al.
Panel 3: Steranko, in his History of Comics, referred to Mr. Atom as "a grim parable in comic form." Captain Marvel first encountered Mr. Atom after he (Mr. Atom) had destroyed a world in a nuclear war; here we see Mr. Atom beginning to do the same thing.
Panel 4: There are some interesting parallels between this scene and the brainwashing scene in A Clockwork Orange. Both Billy Batson (here) and Little Alex (in ACO) were restrained, Little Alex by physical manacles, Billy Batson by the worms and chemicals Luthor has been putting into his brain. The films shown to both characters are of horrible scenes, each perverting things near and dear to the characters' hearts--Alex and Beethoven, Billy and his Fawcett friends. Alex is brainwashed to turn him from an Ignoble Savage into a decent, peaceful citizen. Billy is brainwashed to turn him from an innocent, even noble child to a frightened, obedient thrall.
Page 17 (127). Continuing with the Fawcett theme...the "Sivana" mentioned here is Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, the greatest of Captain Marvel's enemies. As Luthor says, Sivana is the quintessential mad scientist--his stated goals were "1 - To become the Rightful Ruler of the Universe in fact as well as name. 2 - To humiliate, discredit and ultimately to kill Captain Marvel. 3 - To spread horror, terror and nastiness throughout the cosmos." Yeechang Lee points out that the equipment behind Luthor "would be at home in every grade-B mad scientist flick ever made, complete with bubbling chemicals, electric sparks, old-style rotary dials, and a generally cobbled-together look." Thad Doria also notes that the lab seems similar to Sivana's vault, which was seen in the story "Sivana's Good Intentions," in which Sivana stored every one of his inventions that might actually help mankind. (Sivana really was delightfully evil) The Waid/Ross Annotations state that "some of Sivana's equipment is from Whiz Comics #1, which was the first appearance of both Sivana & Captain Marvel."
Luthor removes a worm from Captain Marvel's ear, then replaces it with another, quite similar worm. This is a reference/homage to Captain Marvel's other archfoe, Mr. Mind (the leader of the Monster Society of Evil), a sentient worm from outer-space. In the original GA series there was only one Mr. Mind, and he did not occupy anyone's body; the current Power of Shazam book has made Mr. Mind into a telepathic alien race of worms who control people's bodies by taking over their minds, in much the same way that Marvel is shown to be possessed here. Andrew Farrell points out that Luthor removes the worm from Billy's right ear and replaces it with one in Billy's left ear, implying that the worms are burrowing through poor Billy's brain.
Note the hanging bat in panel 6. His glowing red eyes seem to indicate that this is not a real bat, but one of The Batman's surveillance devices, a smaller version of the Bat-Monitors.
Page 18 (128). My guess would be that Batman, through the red-screened watch on his wrist, was watching Luthor via the Bat-Knight seen on the last page. This, and Batman's statement of "Don't double-cross me" to Luthor, indicate that The Batman has not gone into his alliance with Luthor unsuspectingly. (The Waid/Ross Annotations state that Batman "observes through bat-sized Bat-monitor via a Dick Tracy-style `wristwatch tv.'") The two characters at the near end of the ramp, in the lower-lefthand corner of the panel, seem to be two of Kobra's guards; they have snake-wrapped staves and cobra-like headdresses. Thanks to Donald MacPherson and Thad Doria for i.d.ing them.
Page 19 (129). Sitting at the table are Oliver Queen, Dinah Queen, Ted Kord, Selina Kyle, Edward Nigma, the King (with his back to us), Lord Naga, Vandal Savage (with his back to the reader), and Ibn Al Xu'ffasch. In silhouette we can see Black Canary III, Wildcat III, Ralph Dibny, Huntress III, and Captain Marvel (standing behind Ibn Al Xu'ffasch).
Keith Baird and Peter Li point out that Luthor's command center is a duplicate of the War Room in Dr. Strangelove. Austin Loomis notes that the Legion of Doom also had a War Room in their Hall of Doom. Yeechang Lee points out that Ollie is drinking from an espresso cup, which is appropriate for someone who has made Seattle his home base.
Note the grouping of the figures here; they may be allied, but Luthor's group (former criminals all) clearly have no love lost for Batman's allies (former heroes or children of heroes).
Donald MacPherson and Just Joe note that the "K-bomb," a bomb containing kryptonite, the element deadliest to Superman, has only been referred to once before, in the Amalgam Comics Super-Soldier, in which a combination of Superman and Marvel's Captain America appears. Super-Soldier was written by Mark Waid, as is Kingdom Come.
Page 20 (130).
Panel 1: John Jones, Tula, Flash IV, Darkstar, Red Hood II, Nightstar, Zatara II, Batman, Obsidian, Green Lantern VI, Wildcat III, Black Canary III, the Ralph Dibny, Huntress III, and Oliver Queen.
Note the groupings of the characters; the children of the Teen Titans are again together. As Marilee Stephens noted, Waid and Ross have changed the sexes of the kids of each of the Titans; all four of the original male Titans had daughters, and Donna has a son. Ross, at the Chicago Con, pointed out that while the original Titans are with Superman, all of their children are siding with Batman; this clash between generations is one of the central themes to this series.
Green Lantern VI's chest symbol is that of the Green Lantern Corps; she is the new Green Lantern. (Thanks to Elayne Wechsler-Chaput for this information)
Panel 2: Lex Luthor, Captain Marvel, and Ibn Al Xu'ffasch.
The large red dot on the map of the US in the background is presumably the site of the Gulag.
This is the only page in the series so far when Batman directly refers to Ibn Al Xu'ffasch as his son. Interestingly, he does in an exchange in which he and Ibn Al Xu'ffasch are discussing youth's tendency to rebel against their elders; this might be seen as a premonition of a coming conflict between Ibn Al Xu'ffasch and Batman himself.
Panel 3: (moving clockwise from the far left) Lord Naga, Vandal Savage, Norman McCay, the King, Ibn Al Xu'ffasch, Nightstar, Tula, Ted Kord, Zatara II, Flash IV? (behind Batman's head), John Jones, Green Lantern VI (behind Oliver Queen's head), Oliver Queen, Obsidian, Black Canary III, Darkstar, Ralph Dibny, Wildcat III, Huntress III, Captain Marvel, Dinah Queen, Batman, Selina Kyle, Lex Luthor, and Edward Nigma.
I very much like the body language of Nightstar and Ibn Al Xu'ffasch in this panel. Another nice touch is the interaction between Black Canary III and her parents.
Page 21 (131). Alas, poor J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter (he was literally from Mars), who has been credited with starting the Silver Age of comics, and who is one of the noblest and most respected of DC's heroes; as Batman says, he "fought the good fight longer than any of us." His fate is a sad one, reflecting this unhappy future. Conversely, the compassion shown for J'onn J'onzz by the Batman is very nice and fitting, and is a side of The Batman not shown nearly enough.
The Spectre "unveiling" J'onn's real identity is a very nice effect. It bears repeating that this is a lovely looking book, in addition to being a fun read.
Austin Loomis notes that the Manhunter, in human form, was traditionally known as John Jones--as the Spectre says, "In this form? An Everyman." As the Waid/Ross Annotations point out, this is "the only appearance of John Jones in his super-hero Martian form (still not his true Martian form though)."
The Revelations supplement adds this about the Martian Manhunter:
Page 22 (132). For facial expressions this is perhaps the best page of the series so far. Wildcat's wide-eyed glance at Captain Marvel, Ralph Dibny's typically silly expressions, then his recoiling from Captain Marvel, the hurried conversation between Flash IV and Green Lantern VI (a continuation of the traditional friendship between these two characters' predecessors), the mutual admiration/attraction of Ibn Al Xu'ffasch and Nightstar, and Zatara's glance at the departing Spectre, are all wonderful.
As Yeechang Lee points out, Marvel's interest in Canary's crossbow is natural; Marvel is a little boy at heart, "and what little kid can resist playing with a cool-looking set of arrows?"
Page 23 (133). That is the Living Doll perched on Superman's shoulders; she was last seen on the cover of issue #2, and is the daughter of Doll Man and Doll Girl. As Donald MacPherson notes, the Living Doll's position is quite reminiscent of the way the Ray Palmer Atom used to sit atop his teammates' shoulders in the early days of the Justice League of America.
In Panel 3 we see the original Teen Titans gathered together yet again.
The discussion in panels 3 and 4 is, as the Marilee Stephens and the Redheads said, quite similar to children's discussions behind their parents' backs, as well as recalling the clashes in the Teen Titans between Speedy and Robin.
Jacquelyn Koh Lian Ngee points out that Batman has a son on both sides: Xu'ffasch in the MLF, and Dick Grayson in the Justice League. She goes on to speculate that perhaps Robin's statements here were an effort to throw discord in the ranks of the Justice League, and that Dick Grayson is actually Batman's mole inside the Justice League. Although this theory didn't pan out, it's certainly an interesting one.
RJ points out that the star chart/navigational device in panels 3-5 is very similar to the navigation device on Lost in Space.
David Gross notes that in panel 5 Flash III is both with the Titans and watching Superman and the reader.
Page 24 (134). As Donald MacPherson pointed out, Power Woman's bad temper here--threatening to beat up an old man? for shame--is similar to her temperament in the DC universe. This panel is also an indication of the tension level inside the satellite; things are grim, and everyone seems to know it.
Kevin Lafferty observes that the voyeur symbolism of the series can also be seen in this sequence; in his words, "the placement of Norman as voyeur and narrator is a plot device, but it could also be a device which signifies the reader's relationship to the book (and, since the series is about comic books, the relationship of the reader to comic books in general). I hadn't thought about it too much until Flash III pulled Norman into his world. I found that scene exciting, because it took the silent voyeur (Norman, or by extension the reader) and planted him suddenly into the story, where the characters suddenly demanded to know who he was and what he wanted. (Also, when Flash III spots McCay, he (Flash III) is looking virtually off the page and at the reader)."
Page 25 (135).
Panel 1: Upper Row: Atlas the Great (last seen on the cover of issue #2), Green Lantern, Bulletman II, Bulletgirl II, King Marvel, Lady Marvel, Whiz, Tornado, Red Tornado III, Red Tornado I, Ray II, and Phoebus (legs only).
Ground level: Hawkman, Power Woman, Norman McCay, Superman, Flash III, Wonder Woman, Atom-Smasher, Midnight.
This is the first really good look we've had at King Marvel, and it quickly becomes apparent why he's named as he is: he's now a dead ringer for Elvis (The King) Presley. This is not merely whimsy on Alex Ross' part, however; the historical truth of it is that Captain Marvel, Jr. was Elvis Presley's favorite superhero. Moreover, Elvis based his stage costume on the Captain Marvel, Jr. costume as an homage. Thanks to Thomas Howard and Ed Mathews for that neat bit of trivia. The Revelations supplement adds this about King Marvel:
Jonathan Woodward points out that when Power Woman was about to punch out McCay, on page 24, a strand of her hair got caught in her mouth; in this panel she is seen picking it from her mouth. Alex Ross, clearly, has a splendid eye for detail.
Panel 2: Aleea Strange, Sandman IV, Starman VIII, Hourman, Robotman III, Norman McCay, Red Arrow, Aquaman II, Donna Troy.
Interestingly, McCay, who to this point has been a relatively articulate character, loses coherence, and is reduced to spouting phrases. The strain is obviously showing on him, as well.
Panel 5: Power Woman, Powerman, Superman, Golden Guardian, Norman McCay.
Powerman was, in DC continuity, an android who for the space of one issue replaced Batman as Superman's partner in the pages of World's Finest #94. Thanks to Jonathan Woodward and Nolan Hitchcock, for identifying his first appearance. Michael Grabois and Donald MacPherson note that contrary to what I'd originally written, Powerman actually showed up again in the 1980s. Rick Hodges notes that the Powerman costume originally appeared in the "Atom Man vs. Superman" serial.
The verses Norman McCay are quoting here are from, as usual, the book of Revelation--8:7, 9:2, 14:7--the same verses he quoted in issue 1, page 16, in the sermon which frightened his congregation.
Panel 6: Robotman III, Human Bomb, Norman McCay, Red Arrow, Donna Troy, Aquaman II, Superman, Red Robin.
As a few people pointed out, Robin's "Holy GOD!" is a sly homage to and use of Robin's traditional way of expressing his excitement--viz, "Holy knit-one purl-two!" "Holy invisible commander in chief!" etc. It's also a very good way of punctuating the gravity of the situation. And, as Yeechang Lee pointed out, it occurs in the same panel as Superman's dismissal of Pastor McCay's warnings of the impending Armageddon.
Page 26 (136).
Panel 2: Avia, Hawkman, Norman McCay, Red Robin, Powerman, Power Woman, Superman, Flash III, Wonder Woman.
The manner in which everyone looks at McCay in this panel, realizing that his seemingly incoherent ramblings might actually be the truth, is a very nice touch.
Panel 3: Superman, Red Robin, Wonder Woman, Power Woman, Atlas, Flash III, Green Lantern I, Bulletman, Bulletgirl, King Marvel, Golden Guardian.
Wonder Woman's interrupting Superman seems to belie her claim below, on page 27 (137), panel 2, that Superman was not reacting confidently or in an unqualified manner. Wonder Woman seems to be reacting against Superman's leadership style, rather than any orders he might give.
Panel 4: Red Robin, Hawkman, Superman, Power Woman, Powerman, Wonder Woman, Midnight, Golden Guardian, Atom-Smasher, Brainiac's Daughter.
A further, perhaps ridiculous comparison may be made in this panel between Superman/Wonder Woman and Martin Luther King/Malcolm X. Wonder Woman's "by whatever means necessary" echoes Malcolm X's "by any means necessary;" both are taking a more militant position and are opposed by the more pacifistic (Superman and MLK).
Panel 6: Just Joe points out that McCay's flesh-tones disappear as soon as the Spectre pulls him back out of reality.
Page 27 (137). The Waid/Ross Annotations note that the "use of a transportation beam device (is) similar to that of the old Justice League satellite."
Page 28 (138). Secretary Wyrmwood begins to live up to the connotations of his name with his barely-veiled threat against Superman and the Justice League.
The question might be raised as to what the UN might possibly do to Superman and the Justice League. Granted, they have atomic weapons (as well as bio-chemical ones), but a nuclear explosion was not enough to kill Alloy--who knows what effect it would have on Superman, Green Lantern I, et al.?
Page 29 (139).
Panel 1: Zatara II, Oliver Queen, Dinah Queen, Captain Marvel, Darkstar, Nightstar, Batman, Huntress III, Ibn Al Xu'ffasch, Lord Naga, Red Hood, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern VI, Flash IV, Wildcat III, King, Edward Nigma, Tula, Selina Kyle, Vandal Savage, Obsidian.
Another nice touch here is Nightstar's leaning on the back of Batman's chair, an affectionate gesture between granddaughter and grandfather. Just Joe notes that Flash IV is "putting her glasses back on; she knows that the game is afoot."
Just Joe also points out that Selina's interest in Wildcat's tail is natural, given her background; it makes sense that she would be interested in observing a human-feline hybrid at close range. Just Joe further notes that Nigma is reaching his arm out to Selina, perhaps protectively or to remind her to pay attention to what Luthor is saying.
The Waid/Ross Annotations note that "the Batman sits at the side of his natural son, Xu'ffasch, and they're both wearing the same suit."
Page 30 (140). Nightstar's whispering to Ibn Al Xu'ffasch, in panel 4, is somewhat curious; she seems to be warning Xu'ffasch that things are about to fall apart for his side, yet on page 31 (141), panel 2, she seems somewhat surprised at the turn events have taken.
This may have been obvious to everyone else, but it was only after repeated readings that I understood that Batman, in panel 2, is stepping on Billy Batson's throat to keep him from changing into Captain Marvel.
Anthony Sebro pointed out that Batman's line that he hates "wild cards" is a clear reference to the now-deceased Joker.
Ollie's line "You're KIDDING me! All this time, we've been in MORTAL FEAR of BILLY BATSON?" is not only a good line for a laugh, but in keeping with the DC Continuity Oliver Queen's irascibility.
Page 31 (141). Another page full of lovely little touches: Nightstar seeming to protect Ibn Al Xu'ffasch from Darkstar; Selina forearming Tula (more than one dance in that old dame yet), Selina's cat running for it, King's fear as Obsidian envelops him, Flash IV taking Edward Nigma for a spin, the shreds of clothing flying as Wildcat III tears into Vandal Savage, and Obsidian tipping his hat and grinning after dealing with King.
The exchange between Darkstar and Batman in panel 1 would seem to indicate that Batman's side were ready and waiting to spring the ambush on Luthor's forces. Nightstar, though, seems shocked (in panel 2) to have to protect Ibn Al Xu'ffasch; either Darkstar did not know that Ibn Al Xu'ffasch was Batman's mole within the MLF, or Nightstar was unaware of Batman's plans and is instinctively moving to protect Ibn Al Xu'ffasch. I tend towards the latter explanation, especially since Nightstar, as the daughter of the Red Robin, might not be fully trusted by Batman. (Of course, Nightstar might also be shocked at what Darkstar, who is virtually her cousin, is about to do)
Page 32 (142). Note the shape of Ted Kord's remote control.
We can also assume that the newly-activated Bat Knights did away with Kobra's guards, seen in panel 2.
This sequence reminded me of Hank Pym's demolition of Egghead and the Masters of Evil in the Avengers, where Egghead had Pym build a "Longevity Machine," after which Pym used it to single-handedly wipe out Egghead and all of the Masters of Evil. Any resemblance between that sequence and this one, of course, is likely coincidental and probably exists only in my brain.
Page 33 (143). In the finest tradition of comic books, Batman takes this opportunity to lecture Billy Batson on what he, Batson, already knows, but of which most of the audience is probably ignorant.
Page 34 (144). Note the smoke and Batman's fading away in panel 4, which is (as the Waid/Ross Annotations confirm) the result of Zatara's transporting Batman to the Batcave--we can see Zatara snapping his fingers.
Yeechang Lee notes that Zatara II keeps taking his hat off and putting it back on, and surmises that he's fidgeting out of nervousness: "quite appropriate for someone who's among the youngest there, and who no doubt feels the weight of his heroic heritage." Mike Denton points out that Zatara calls the Batman "Batman," rather than "Bruce," showing a measure of respect for his stature and prestige.
Xu'ffasch's appearance with Batman's group in this panel lends some weight to the argument that he (Xu'ffasch) was Batman's mole inside the MLF; I remain unconvinced, though I'll admit that Zatara's statement that "all" of Luthor's men are in custody, while Xu'ffasch is standing next to Nightstar, does help that argument.
Page 145. The Waid/Ross Annotations note the presence in panel 1 of a statue of Diana, the goddess of the hunt, in Wonder Woman's quarters. The Revelations supplement says this about Wonder Woman's armor:
Page 36 (146).
Panel 3: Alloy, Green Lantern I, Pepperguard, Avia, Human Bomb, Snapper Carr, Super Mike Nesmith, Red Robin, Super Mickey Dolenz, Super Davy Jones, Super Peter Tosh, Aquaman II, Donna Troy, Wonder Woman, Bulletman, Superman, Robotman III.
Snapper Carr was originally the teen sidekick to the Silver Age Justice League of America.
Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tosh were, of course, the tv stars/musicians The Monkees. As Dave Van Domelen and Johanna Draper noted, there were actually episodes of The Monkees in which the quartet revealed their superpowers and became the costumed "Monkeemen" (which is how the Waid/Ross Annotations identify them). With Ross' eye for detail, their costumes probably looked something like what we see here. (David Tai and Johanna Draper confirm this)
Panel 4: From the top: Stealth II, Killer Moth II, Blue Devil II, Shining Knight II, Dragonknight, Black Manta II, Vigilante IV, Black Mongul, Captain Comet, Von Bach, Trix, Kongo, Marley, Mantis II.
Vigilante IV is the Kingdom Come version of the DC cowboy hero Vigilante. The Revelations supplement says this about him:
Von Bach, unfortunately, was good to his word in killing Captain Comet. Heath Rosenbaum notes that Captain Comet is generally seen (along with the Martian Manhunter) as ushering in the Silver Age, and that his positive beginning there "inversely parallels the negative emergence of the hostile youth taking over the KC universe."
Page 37 (147).
Panel 3: Avia, Human Bomb, Wonder Woman, Super Mike Nesmith, Super Mickey Dolenz, Red Robin, Super Davy Jones, Super Peter Tork, Aquaman II, Superman, Lady Marvel, King Marvel, Hourman.
King Marvel's resemblance to Elvis Presley is pronounced in this panel.
Panel 4: Pepperguard, Donna Troy, Red Arrow, Whiz, Living Doll, Tornado, Wonder Woman, Superman, J'oan J'onzz, Aleea Strange (silhouetted on stairs), Norman McCay, Spectre.
The Super Beatles' appearance here seems to be, as a number of people have called them, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band turned into Transformers, what Ross, in the Revelations supplement, calls the "Pepperguard."
A number of people have speculated that the female Martian Manhunter seen over Superman's left shoulder is actually J'onn J'onzz. The woman has J'onzz's cape, green skin color, and bald head, but lacks his pronounced brow. Moreover, no explanation is given for J'onzz's defection from Batman's group to the Justice League. Craig Kostelecky quotes Ross to the effect that J'onn J'onzz had a daughter at one time, and the Kingdom Come female Martian Manhunter is a clone of that daughter; the Waid/Ross Annotations refer to her as "J'oan J'onzz."
Yet another of the numerous nice touches in this series is King Marvel and Lady Marvel seeming to tell their son Whiz to stay behind--a logical move for parents on the brink of such a battle.
Page 38 (148). We see Batman's bank of allies, again: Fate, Steel II, Phantom Lady II, Mr. Scarlet, Spy Smasher II, Batwoman II and Ace II, Menagerie, Creeper, Samurai, Dragon, Condor.
As Randy Patton notes, Steel is carrying a bat-headed axe; again, this shows how, in Kingdom Come, the character was influenced by The Batman, rather than Superman.
A number of people pointed out that rather than flying around the Earth and descending into the Batcave, Superman took the most direct route, entering the planet through an Asian country (note the pagoda silhouette in panel 3), boring through the middle of the planet (note the magma streaming from his body in panel 4), and entering the Batcave from below. This is, yet again, an indication of the urgency of the situation, in both our eyes and (more importantly) in Superman's; Superman, noble character that he is, has always tried to do as little harm as possible. Only the gravest of situations would drive him to an action like this.
Page 39 (149). Superman here is finally letting himself go, something that has rarely been seen in the comics. His speech might be described as a fit of pique; but Superman has been driven to the edge and is desperate, and this comes through in his plea to Batman.
Just Joe notes that Batman has the layout of the Gulag on his viewscreen. He's studying up.
As a few people pointed out, McCay, in panel 4, is looking (through the Spectre's cloak) at the events of page 40.
The Waid/Ross Annotations point out that the Batman is working on "the wing armature for his suit of armor seen in chapter #4."
Page 40 (150).
Panel 2: Snapper Carr ("fat and old," according to the Waid/Ross Annotations), J'oan J'onzz, Pepperguard, Bulletgirl II, Sandman IV, Bulletman II, Robotman III, Midnight, The Monkeemen (in flight), Atlas, Avia, Wonder Woman, Aquaman II, Red Robin, Donna Troy, Hawkman, Thanagarians (in flight), Alloy, Red Arrow, Starman VIII, Brainiac's Daughter, Lady Marvel (in flight), King Marvel (in flight) and Atom Smasher.
The presence of the Thanagarians (the Silver Age Hawkman's alien race) here is somewhat curious; the Revelations supplement emphasizes Hawkman's solitude, apart from everyone of his own kind, including Thanagarians. It may be, though, that Ross just wanted to draw a bunch of hawk-people.
Batmite reappears again in panel 3.
Page 41 (151). For my money the superheroic ideal and ethos has rarely, if ever, been summed up as well as Superman's speech in panel 2. Batman's expression--he is undoubtedly thinking about the death of his parents, the motivating factor that drove him to become The Batman--shows that Superman, at least in this panel, struck a nerve.
The naked desperation on Superman's face in panel 3 and his surprise and dismay in panel 4 are a marked change from the impassivity he has shown through most of the rest of the series. It is also a contrast to the more craven fear that showed up on Billy Batson's face on pp 30 (140), 32 (142) and 33 (143).
Superman's appeal to The Batman to join him and become "the World's Finest Team" is a reference to the World's Finest Comic, in which Superman and Batman regularly teamed up, back in the pre-Crisis days. As Chris Blakeley notes, World's Finest was in fact the first place that Batman and Superman teamed up.
Batman's wry "so that's what that feels like" is an amusing reference (even he is smiling as he says it) to the many times that Batman has disappeared during a conversation and left Commissioner Gordon talking to himself.
Page 43 (153). I don't remember if this was a part of the original Legion of Doom headquarters or not, but the giant locks along the top of the Gulag are yet another reminder that what we are looking at, despite its pastoral inner appearance, is a prison.
Aquaman II and Donna Troy holding their ears at the sound of the explosion is another of Ross' many well-done touches.
Panel 5: Silhouettes of King Crimson, Black Mongul, Demon Damsel, Kongo, Catwoman II and Buddha.
King Crimson is a new character, described in the Waid/Ross Annotations as the "big demon version of the (Golden Age hero and member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory) Crimson Avenger."
Page 44 (154). I can't definitively identify every character on this page, no matter how hard I try. Further effort will only result in more migraines for Yr. Obd't Srvt. Contributions are of course welcome.
Panel 1: Silhouetted, in foreground: King Crimson, Kongo, Buddha, Pinwheel, Catwoman II, Spartian, White, Von Bach, Black Mongul, Trix, Swastika, Manotaur, Cathedral, Nowhere Man, Tyrant-Tula, Blue, and Salamander.
Spartian is a new character; the Revelations supplement says this about him:
Page 45 (155). That's Captain Marvel, in costume, and looking more evil than we've ever seen him. One point that several people raised was, since Captain Marvel shares his power with Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr., how do all three have their power at the same time? The Revelations supplement refers to this somewhat:
Among the characters in the background are King Marvel, Red Tornado III, Lady Marvel, Tornado, Red Tornado I, Brainiac's Daughter, Alloy, Spiderman, Hawkman, Captain America, Atom-Smasher, Donna Troy, Thor, Red Arrow, Red Robin, Aquaman II, Wonder Woman, XO Manowar, Atlas, Monkeemen, Midnight, Avia, Robotman III, Pepperguard, Sandman IV, Dr. Strange, the original, Golden Age Blue Beetle, Bulletman II, and Bulletgirl II.
Thanks for various notes, corrections, contributions, and good thoughts to:
Michel Alpert, Keith Baird, Chris Blakeley, C. Boldman, Jason Borelli, Don Brinker, Michael Cavanagh, Mike Chary, Mark Coale (of course), John S. Danknich, Delfuego, Mike Denton, David Diano, Jim Dirig, Thad A. Doria, Johanna Draper, David Drewelow, Duggy, Elmeaux, Andrew Farrell, Jason Fliegel, John Forbus, Daniel Frank, Matt Gore, Michael R. Grabois, Grendel824@aol.com, Jack Grims, Chris Gumprich, Gustavus@iglou.com, Askia Hale, Rob Harris, Nolan Hitchcock, Jesse Hochstadt, James E. Heath, Rick Torgo Hodge, Thomas Howard, Jay J, Kenneth Jennings, Just Joe, RJ, Paul.Kaczmarek, David Knott, Kevin Lafferty, Yeechang Lee, Sonny Lemmons, Peter Li, Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni, Austin Loomis, Sean MacDonald, Donald MacPherson, Ed Mathews, Mark McConnell, Lou Mougin, Jacquelyn Koh Lian Ngee, Randy Patton, Tony Pi, Chris Rednour, Hunter Rose, Heath Rosenbaum, Clifford Schexnayder, Mike Schmidt, Al Schroeder, Anthony Sebro, Mark Semich, Dselberg@tfgdirect.com, Joel Shin, Hal Shipman, Marc Singer, David J. Snyder, Marilee Stephens and The Redheads, Derek Stevenson, Joseph Sturgeon, David Tai, Alan Turniasky, Dave Van Domelen, the divine Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, Andrew Woodard, and Jonathan Woodward.
All characters mentioned and described and text quoted herein are copyright 2000 DC Comics. No infringement of copyright or trademark is intended by this annotations, nor has permission been given by DC Comics to quote from Kingdom Come. The text to this annotation is copyright 2000 Jess Nevins. This annotation may be quoted in its entirety as long as this acknowledgement is included.