Another addition to SUPERMANIA’s series of recommended comic reading for fans of the Superman Movie series is this epic graphic novel published by Titan Books in 1997. Collecting the Elseworlds run originally published by DC comics and written by Mark Waid, Kingdom Come is a grand, ambitious project permitting creatives to indulge themselves with the characters of the DC Universe without consequence as outlined below;
“In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places – some that have existed or might have existed, and others that can’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t exist.”
Ironically, besides the awesome and touching dedication to Christopher Reeve on page 1, there is little content thereafter reminiscent of anything seen on the big screen. Despite Kingdom’s astonishing hand painted art by the unparalleled Alex Ross, every panel may well be suitable for framing but purposefully portrays alternate versions of all the DC frontrunners -some more convincingly than others.
In fact, Kingdom is a heavygoing, sometimes exhausting read, just as the definition above precludes. Its an epic tale crammed tightly into a format that can’t really accommodate it and therefore does it little justice. The dialogue is sharper than the premise and in a similar vein to Alan Moore’s Watchmen, you realise from the outset this is a doom-laden morality tale. Kudos, however should be given to the characterisations of Batman and Wonder Woman and the notion of making Captain Marvel an atomic version of Lenny from Of Mice And Men…
Though lacking a merchandising campaign on the scale of her cousin, Touchstone Pictures adaptation of the Maid of Might still yielded some global treasures. From the top, UK Poster magazine by London Editions, Japanese program book, (unusually presented in landscape format but featuring customary outstanding imagery) UK Exhibitors Campaign Book and last but not least, the Storybook based on the film.
In retrospect, with all the creative elements (not to mention budget) in place it seems mystifying now quite why the picture itself failed so dramatically. Many seem to attribute it to a hurriedly rewritten script excising the appearance of Superman as Christopher Reeve infamously rejected the project last-minute. As those early Super-team drafts to my knowledge have never been published I’m reticent to place the blame solely there though undoubtedly it would have been an entirely different experience (not to mention a cinematic first).
Director Jeannot Szwarc was quoted as saying “I don’t think it was a failure, It just wasn’t what people were expecting” neatly evading responsibility for flat direction whilst simultaneously making it the audience problem. In truth, Supergirl did bear more similarity to other fantasy epics of the time such as Krull and The Dark Crystal rather than her Super-namesake due to the inclusion of magic as a plot device intended to emulate The Wizard of Oz but poorly realised. Even the stunning flying effects (by the original Superman unit, perfecting their techniques) and a memorable score by Jerry Goldsmith (finally joining the Super-team having narrowly missed out previous entries) can’t save the flimsy story and a sweet but inexperienced lead actress from being gobbled up by scenery. That being said, such is its cult appeal I must recommend the Anchor Bay DVD release featuring an extended cut as, if you’ve yet to see it, you’ve really not seen Supergirl at all…