I know this is a re-post, but the other thread overrun with unsubstantiated comments like, “Kingdom Come /thread.” I hope this gets more thoughtful attention.
So, first of all, why even compare the two comics in the first place? They share elements, the most obvious being a questioning of the role of superheroes in society, but other than this, the two are quite different. Kingdom Come is more of a one-shot fable, whereas Civil War is more of an event, as the subtitle states. But despite their differences, I suppose people want to compare the two, so here’s my take.
I enjoyed Civil War much, much more than Kingdom Come. But I am obligated to say I’ve always liked Marvel more. But my bias put aside, in terms of the big picture narrative, I think Kingdom Come is the superior comic for one simple reason: Civil War had no ending. Captain America sees that he is fighting just to fight, that justice is nowhere involved, and then he decides to turn himself in. This is the climax. And it’s a weak one at that. The denouement is even weaker. Things just hastily wrap up. It was as if the writers were tired of writing and called it quits. By contrast, Kingdom Come has one of the most beautiful denouements I have ever read. The scene with Superman, Wonderwoman, and Batman at the restaurant was a spectacular ending, as was what was done with the Norman McCay. A good story needs a good ending, and a great ending uplifts a mediocre story. I think this was the case in Kingdom Come, which points out why I think it was also weaker than Civil War in fundamental areas.
The pacing of Civil War was right on point. The fight scenes were very fluid and the drama was given the appropriate distancing and anticipation. The two big fight scenes were amazing, and when Thor was introduced, it amped things up, and then the death of Goliath answered. By contrast, Kingdom Come seemed to drag on a little too long with the introduction, and Norman McCay’s narrative never seemed to settle in. This was part of a bigger problem in pacing. Kingdom Come seemed to drag along at points and then speed a long at others, only to come to another halt where the pace dragged again.
Overall, Kingdom Come had more of a prophetic feel, more of an epic feel. Helping this was, of course, the artwork. Alex Ross’ painting added a life-like element to the drama. But the epic feel also worked against Kingdom Come by making the brevity of certain character’s development stand out. Think of how small a roll Captain Marvel had, how fast some scenes ended only to run into more scenes given the same treatment. Think of all the minor characters with cameos that didn’t really matter. In my opinion the epic quality gave the whole comic a heavy handed feel that was only reconciled in the denouement, which is in itself what makes the comic stand out—but in the end, I don’t think this is enough to say Civil War is not in its league.
Sorry for the bad writing. I’m really tired. Cheers.