In 1996, Mark Waid and Alex Ross‘s Kingdom Come revealed a dark possible future for the DC Universe. The series was set in a world that had embraced a new, more violent generation of superheroes, led by the murderous Magog. A disillusioned Superman had retired from public life, while an ailing Batman had retreated into the shadows to protect Gotham from the the safety of his cave. Over the course of the four-issue series, Superman returned after a tragedy caused by Magog led to millions of deaths, ideological battle lines were drawn between Superman- and Batman-led sides of heroes, and an epic showdown between those two sides resulted in even more tragedy, but also hope for the future.

Waid has written hundreds of comics since Kingdom Come‘s release, but that story is still far and away his best-known work. In 1999 Waid returned to the world of that series with the fifth-week event The Kingdom, which picked up in the aftermath of the original series and saw the heroes of the present day interact with their time-travelling future selves. Artist Alex Ross has also returned to the world of Kingdom Come with a prequel story, “Thy Kingdom Come,” told in the pages of writer Geoff Johns and artist Dale Eaglesham‘s Justice Society of America in 2011-12. The world of the original series has also been officially designated Earth-22 as part of DC’s multiverse.

Now Waid is set to return to Kingdom Come once more in the pages of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest. The series, illustrated by Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain, is set in the past of the current DC Universe, and has previously introduced David Sikela, a young hero who briefly served as Superman’s sidekick, Boy Thunder. That storyline, which ran in issues 7-11 of the series, ended with David being thrust to Earth-22, and revealed that David would eventually grow up to become Kingdom Come‘s Magog. Next month “Heir to the Kingdom,” the follow-up to the Boy Thunder storyline, begins in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20 as Superman, Batman, and Robin head out into the multiverse to try to rescue Boy Thunder – and find a world on the brink of catastrophe.

Waid sat down with The Beat to discuss the origins of both Magog and Boy Thunder, returning to the world of his most famous work, and what the World’s Finest team should expect when they arrive on Earth-22.

Joe Grunenwald: Take me back to 1996. When you introduced Magog, did you have any thoughts, outside of what’s in the text, for what his origin was going to be?

Mark Waid: I did not. I had no idea. But the Boy Thunder idea, I’ve had that bullet in the chamber for 30 years. The original plot for The Kingdom was going to be the Boy Thunder story. I mean, I didn’t have it fleshed out as much as I did, and it wasn’t the origin of Magog back then, but I knew I wanted to do something with a character like that. And then Dan Mora hit it out of the park. I sent him the costume, it’s from an old World’s Finest, and I said ‘Feel free to make it look contemporary, feel free to do whatever you want with it, it’s just a starting point,’ and he just drew the costume, God bless him.

Grunenwald: So it is sort of based on the [Nova] costume [from World’s Finest #178]?

Waid: It’s exactly the Nova costume.

Grunenwald: Was it seeing Dan’s drawing that led you to having Boy Thunder become Magog, then?

Waid: No, by the time I thought of doing the Boy Thunder story in World’s Finest I had the Magog thing in my back pocket. I thought, ‘That’s a good way to connect them, because that way, I can then later on do a Kingdom Come riff.’

Grunenwald: Was returning to the world of Kingdom Come something you’d always wanted to do?

Waid: Not really. [World’s Finest] is selling really well, which is nice, but I’m always looking for ways to make sure it keeps selling well, and that just seemed like the way to go. I talked with Alex [Ross] at great length and he was cool with everything. I told him I didn’t want to do a sequel, it’s more of a prequel. We get a glimpse of post-Kingdom Come, but just a glimpse, to sort of justify why Superman’s in the black and red insignia, and then it’s before then. We go back to what’s roughly the same period of time that the World’s Finest book is set in, but it’s doppelgangers and Boy Thunder is there, and he’s grown up a little bit and there is some real tension because he doesn’t really believe that Superman looked for him.

Grunenwald: It’s always seemed like there was more to the relationship between Superman and Magog in Kingdom Come. It’s very personal between the two of them, and now you’ve taken it to an even deeper level with the ‘sidekick’ angle.

Waid: Right, and again that was never part of the plan with Magog ever, but I realized there was so much I could do with that character before he became Magog and sort of explain why he became that kind of character.

Grunenwald: As far as your experience goes, how does it feel to return to those versions of the characters?

Waid: Oh, it’s great. It’s so much fun. I didn’t demand it. DC’s remit for the series was, ‘Please do a classic version of these characters, and you can use all the toys like the Batcave and the Fortress of Solitude, and not worry about what’s happening in current continuity.’ If you had to, then, you know, Superman’s in space for a year, what do you do?

Grunenwald: Right, you’d be beholden to everything else.

Waid: Right. But Dan Mora is the reason it doesn’t feel like a retro book. It’s also my goal, I mean, I cannot afford to make that feel like a retro book, because you get [typecast], and I don’t want to be that guy. So no, it’s a blast. DC’s letting me do pretty much whatever I want to do and I’m so grateful for that.

Grunenwald: You talked a little bit about where it falls in relation to the original Kingdom Come series timeline-wise. How do you feel like what we’re going to see informs what we know happens in that series? What’s the thematic relationship between what’s coming up and what comes before?

Waid: The tricky part is that, by that first issue, our Superman and Batman know what happens in Kingdom Come, and now they’re back in that past, so they’re struggling to find a way to steer it away from that, but not tell anybody because they can’t really reveal the future. And it’s a struggle, because we know that happens. So the trick is, and what the story is really about it, is finding some way for Superman and Batman to achieve some sort of victory even though, at the end of the day, Kingdom Come still happens.

Grunenwald: So it’s a fixed point in time that that happens.

Waid: Exactly.

Grunenwald: You mentioned The Kingdom earlier, so you’ve been with these characters again before. How does this feel different to you, or what’s different about coming back to them this time versus when you did it with The Kingdom?

Waid: I mean, it’s because we’re doing a prequel. It’s much different. With each character I have to decide where they are in their development. Is Flash that fully developed Speed Force character or is he more like our old Flash? Is Green Lantern Alan Scott or is he Hal Jordan? This is on a case-by-case basis. The tricky part is trying to figure out what fits in that continuity. And then again, like I said, I’m having a lot of talks with Alex. He doesn’t have veto power per say, but it’s just a courtesy. I felt like talking to him about this stuff. And then Gog is a huge part of the story, and [Alex] had some very definite ideas about who Gog is, which is great. So he gave me a lot to feed off of.

Grunenwald: Alex and Geoff Johns did the whole Kingdom Come thing with Gog in Justice Society. Is there any relation between the two or is this its own separate thing?

Waid: A little, not strictly. We’re playing with it a little bit, but it’s similar. I’m not trying to justify anything that we’re not doing.

Grunenwald: Gotcha. You mentioned Green Lantern and The Flash. Are we going to see the state of the larger DCU on Earth-22?

Waid: Definitely, at that time, yeah.

Grunenwald: How do you feel about the legacy that Kingdom Come has had? It was very much a reaction to what was happening in comics at the time, and then things started to react to Kingdom Come. How do you feel about that looking back on it?

Waid: I could never have seen it coming. For the most part I’m pleased. I’m less pleased with people treat it like a prophecy and not like a warning. When people say ‘We’re leaning into that future,’ I’m like, ‘No! Don’t do that!’ But it’s nice that people still come up to me about it. It’s still the #1 thing I sign, the #1 thing people talk about, apparently it’s going to be on my tombstone. I’m okay with that.

Grunenwald: “Thy Kingdom Come” on your tombstone feels appropriate.

Waid: Exactly. There’s worse things.

Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20 is due out in stores and digitally on Tuesday, October 17th. The final order cutoff date for the issue is this Sunday, September 24th.


  1. I love Kingdom Come and how Mark Waid talks about its legacy- I haven’t been reading World’s Finest but this makes me want to pick it up and catch up on the trades.

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