Page 45 Review by Stephen
There have been several moments in which the ever-reliable Mark Waid has stood out from his superhero peers. KINGDOM COME was undoubtedly one of those, and this is another.
"Let me tell you the kind of world I live in. It is a world of miserable, bitter, ungrateful paramecium who lash out at you in a state of perpetual anger for not solving their problems fast enough."
The Plutonian was a superman of rare humility and infinite kindnesses. An altruist fighting to keep people safe, he was intuitive enough to help allay insecurities in his cohorts as he did so. He was approachable enough to joke "Call me Tony!" Much admired for this selfless heroism, he still couldn't help overhear cynical jeers in the crowds, and it... it niggled him.
As the story opens a pair of hardened eyes beginning blazing with incandescent rage, a heat-vision about to boil into an inferno of destructive energy. Its target? A young girl asleep, arm curled round a teddy. A masked man, her father, bursts frantically into the bedroom to snatch her away, terrifying his wife and their baby to action as the house bursts into flames, but the cold, dark man is relentless, remorseless and the family are immolated one by one.
One week later and his superpowered ex-colleagues are gathered at night round a smartly dressed young man with a gem on his forehead, buried up to his waist in the ground. His name is Sam, and they're coaxing him to remember his first meeting with the Plutonian, a gentle, joyful, archetypal superhero who immediately and instinctively embraces the young, innocent and exuberant Sam as his best pal. They're desperate for information, but he's having trouble remembering. It's as if there's a part of his brain missing. It is: there's a great big hole carved in the back of his head. What level of personal treachery has turned this hero into such a sadist, we don't yet know. But he's now out to punish not just those individuals who have transgressed, but the whole human race. And actually, he's toying with them. Because the thing about genocide is that there are so many countries and races to arbitrarily choose from.
Both the kindness and cruelty are effectively delivered by Krause whose clean, clear art style reminds me of Brent Anderson - so much so that at times I thought I was reading ASTRO CITY, particularly when it came to the personal relationships. The whole of that second chapter is devoted to the Plutonian's ex-girlfriend now living in the rubble of a city which the Plutonian just recently destroyed killing millions. Their romance blossomed beautifully, effortlessly and was full of surprises. Not least for Alana Patel, discovering he'd been secretly working alongside her as a civilian for years in a live-broadcasting radio station. But then he made a mistake: he told her the truth, which to Alana meant he'd been lying. And then she made a mistake too...
It's a well written chapter that, examining the devastating effects all-too-human slips of the tongue can have in an environment such as this. It's the last time we see the Plutonian as naive. Since then he's wised up, found imaginative ways to destroy entire islands, and the thing about his new cynicism under Waid is that it always proves to be well founded. As The Cramps used to croon, "People ain't no good."