Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kingdom Come #3 - Oct. 1996

"Kingdom Come Book 3" by Mark Waid and Alex Ross.

After featuring almost every single character in the DCU (and then some), we finally get to see where The Phantom Stranger has been during the worldwide battle between the old and new heroes:

...sadly, the Stranger doesn't get a line here, and he makes no further appearance in the series (as far as I know--you can never tell with Alex Ross!).

Interesting that the Stranger is considered in the same league as Zeus, Shazam, Ganthet, etc. Good for him!

Tomorrow: one of the Stranger's most unusual appearances!


Will K. said...

I liked the idea of these super-powerful individuals serving as a sort of checks-and-balances system with one another. I think it works well in the context of the story. There's really no more appropriate place for him to be in Kingdom Come than on the sidelines, considering the Spectre plays the kind of guiding role the Stranger usually fills.

However, I don't like how the idea of "The Quintessence" was shoehorned into regular continuity. The Stranger's unspoken restrictions on what he can and cannot do and say are an integral part of his character, and I don't really like the explanation being something along the lines of "Because Ganthet and Izaya Highfather might get mad."

Unknown said...

Will hits the two points I was going to make (Spectre taking the usual Stranger role and "Ganthet and Highfather might get mad"). Though that might meet the strange (pun intended) limits that the Stranger has always had. You know, mostly helping the individual cut through the bull but allowing said individual to make it's choice. Maybe, maybe not.

RC said...

Did the quintessence appear in the DCU proper, beyond that awful Kingdom sequel? It does seem stupid for the Stranger to get saddled with them.

In a way I'm glad the Stranger doesn't have any lines here. At least he doesn't seem like as big a jerk as the others. Poor Shazam!

Why is Zeus there? Has he really been that involved in humanity?

You've got to love the way Ross has composed the scene, with us mere mortals looking up at the cosmic giants, and the earth hanging overhead. I think it's one of my favorite visuals in the series.

Will K. said...

I think Zeus makes sense if you think of them as being representative of the forces that could easily intervene but shouldn't: Zeus there for the more traditional pantheons, Highfather for the New Gods, Shazam for the magical and supernatural, and Ganthet as the unearthly and cosmic. That leaves the Stranger as a bit of an anomaly. Depending on how you interpret his origins, you could consider him a representative of the Lords of Order (and maybe Chaos as well) or an agent of Heaven. Though I think the idea that the Stranger represents only himself is much more appropriate to the character.

As for the Quintessence, they definitely show up (by that name, no less!) in JLA's Crisis Times Five arc. I think they were also in an issue of Superman that dealt with the fall-out of Our Worlds At War (Superman was on "trial" for saving the day or something). Bleh to the both of those appearances, I say.

RC said...

Good points. And I guess you could argue that Zeus has been involved, in a way, through Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, if indirectly. I actually like the way this scene is presented in today's (very cool) audio clip. The implication that Shazam sent out a call for help and these are the four that answered, not that they're some kind of cosmic club that has regular meetings.

RC said...

...on the other hand...now I can't get the concept out of my head of Zeus, Highfather, Ganthet, Shazam and the Phantom Stranger teaming up to fight crime. Cosmic crime! Satellite headquarters that orbits the entire universe! Fistfights with living nebulas! Crime scenes that stretch across 8 dimensions! An alternate universe for a trophy room! Plus they all have secret identities. "No one must know that I, mild-mannered Izaya of New Genisis, am actually the Crimson Galaxy..."

Will K. said...

I'd read a comic where Ganthet rides around piggy-back on Zeus, ala Master Blaster.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Agreed all around. A clever one-off pun in KC became one of the worst ideas in the modern DCU-- incidentally undermining the coherence of the KC usage (or else implying that five cosmic powers had stood around giving each other the stinkeye in space for twenty years and never doing anything else). In KC, crucially, the Stranger *doesn't* say anything, so we don't know whether he's part of, or just observing, the Highfather-Zeus-Ganthet standoff about intervening-- a standoff that makes good sense on its own.

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