Thumbs Up (if not all the way up)
The series (now graphic novel) "Kingdom Come" was recommended to me by friends, shopkeepers and online recommendation wizards for a decade before I finally got around to reading it. As can be expected from something that was been on the "to read" pile for so long, a great deal of anticipation was built up in my mind. Did it live up to the hype?
Let me explain. "Kingdom Come" was a DC Comics 'Elseworlds' (parallel universe - unaffected by long range continuity) stoy of the DC superheroes - all the big names are here: Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman, etc. (although it should be noted that DC's 'heavy hitters' like Superman and Batman hog the "screentime" while a lot of DC's midlevel charcters receive short shrift, and the principle antagonists - a host of new 2nd generataion heroes - are almost reduced to nonentity status, their names recorded only in the books back matter). There is no doubt that the comic was groundbreaking at the time of it's release - with Alex Ross' painted panels adding a wonderfully epic feel to this DC Ragnarok. Unfortunately, some of the material seemed to go over ground which had been covered better and more extensively in other truly great graphic novels; such things as the golden age heroes (and by extension the comics medium in general's) loss of innocence, philosophical discourse on the moral compass of an ubermensch, and the conflict between the mortal/human superheroes (e.g. Batman, Green Arrow) toward the immortal/superhuman ones (e.g. Wonder Woman, Superman) ALL had been given better treatment in such outstanding graphic novels as the "Miracleman" volumes, "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Watchmen". And have since been covered further (and again better than in "Kingdom Come") in such volumes as "JLA:Tower of Babel", "Marvels" (also illustrated by Ross), the graphic novels of Kurt Busiek's "Astro City" and perhaps to a lesser extent, Marvel's "Ultimates" series.
The upshot being that after having already read all of those titles, the power of this book seems somewhat diminished, and repetitive. Which is not to say that it is a bad book. In fact, it remains a great read today, and judged in terms of its place in comic history - a milestone. In fact, it is nearly flawless on it's own merits.
One of the few complaints I did have was that my copy came with a promotional CD-ROM which promised lots of great comic art and previews. The disc was attached to the back cover - making the book inflexible in the center, and difficult to read. The disc proved impossible to remove without damaging the book, and it was a major let down in terms of contents. I'd have prefered that it came seperately, or not at all.
So, in closing, if you are expecting something as good as "The Dark Knight" or "The Watchmen" you are in for a let down, but if you want a good graphic novel in the superhero genre, you could do a lot worse than this one.