Book 42. Kingdom Come, by Elliot S Maggin. Paperback. Based on the story by Alex Ross & Mark Waid.
When it comes to reading novelizations, the choice one has to make is the right order in which to consume the various versions of the story. In the case of Kingdom Come, I think I made the right choice, by starting with the original comic books, before moving on to the audio drama, and then finally this novelization. Each successive version that I experienced added more depth and more details.
The second and third generations of superheroes fail to abide by the guidance offered by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. After a self-imposed exile, Superman returns to active duty, in an attempt to rally the superhero community to stop an oncoming apocalypse. An apocalypse of their own making.
The story is told through the viewpoint of Pastor Norman McKay, and his spiritual guide, The Spectre. Pastor McKay has seen terrible visions of the coming war, fearing that prophecies from the book of Revelation are coming to pass. He has been tasked by the Spectre with the unenviable job of judging the world for its sins.
In this novelization, Maggin digs into the main characters, giving us insights into the psyches of many. The relationship between Wonder Woman and Superman is one of the strengths of the book, as Maggin explores how their different worldviews lead them to draw conclusions about the best course of action to follow. The fleshing-out of Pastor McKay’s biography and the working out of his theology is extremely well-done. Batman, Lex Luthor, and Green Arrow are also among the characters we get an insight into.
The comic book version of this story is rightly considered an all-time classic. I recommend this novelization (and the audio production) to anyone who appreciates the original, but wants to spend more time with this story. Maggin's novel adds more details about the characters, more details about the backstory, and more details about the action.
To hear a more detailed discussions of the plot and characters of the story, listen to this episode of Views from the Longbox, in which Emily & I joined host Michael Bailey. For a more detailed discussion of the religious imagery and content, the three of us discussed that on this episode of Dorkness to Light.
Source: My friend Michael Bailey sent it to us, in preparation for the above-referenced podcasts.