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And we just call you Dad, Wraith.
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We short people type mightily, riding high on our Napoleon Complexes, to crash the gates of Valhalla!


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I'm gonna touch the butt

"Wow, you look great tonight."

"Oh, you're too much. Besides, you don't look so bad yourself."

"Man, it's so nice that these last few years have been building up to the satisfying emotional climax that tonight presents."

"I know. There's nothing worse in this world than being alone," Nic said to himself in the mirror. With his black sport coat on over his red t-shirt, it occurred to him that he looked like he'd stepped out of a nineties rom-com. He wished he had. "It's high time for my meet-cute. I wonder what everybody's up to."

It had been an unusually lonely couple weeks. Not anyone else's fault. His solitude was basically entirely self imposed. It's just hard to imagine that he's out here with all these parahumans. His dad would have had a heyday. Out of habit, his first inclination was to study everybody but, although it felt right, it felt very wrong. So he mostly walked around, smiling almost ditsily, avoiding eye contact. Even the act of getting to know people, the act of making friends, out of earnest curiosity, felt like a personal betrayal.

He'd literally spent the last forty-five minutes looking at himself in the mirror, thinking. Thinking far too clearly for his own liking. His muscles were wound far too tight. His mind even tighter. Everything felt so crisp. So dry. He felt kinda thirsty. Nope. That's not happening. Not dumping the last 593 days of progress down the drain or, perhaps more accurately, down his throat.

"Y'know what? Fuck it. Tonight I'm gonna dance with somebody and we're gonna fall in love. And they're gonna know all about me implicitly, inferring things. Making unreasonable jumps in logic. And understand and respect me for who I am... Like that means anything. The fuck do I expect? No!" His fists clap down against his bathroom sink. "I just gotta get out of this bedroom before I go stir crazy."

And so, after standing in front of a mirror for almost an hour, he still hadn't done his hair. But he took a few brave steps out into the common area, seeing almost no one dancing, unless their eyes darting back and forth with obvious intent counts as a dance.

And so he did a dance of his own. He did the wallflower, walking in a tight little circle every time the song changed. He saw a girl he wanted to talk to. She looked at him. He thought she wanted to talk. He smiled at her. She smiled at him. Reasoning it would be better not to talk without any idea of what to talk about, he stepped out of the room for a moment. But then he kept going, thinking he'd probably have a better idea by the time he came back if he walked further away.

Soon enough, he found himself stumbling out into the nearby woods. It was dark. Too dark to see. And that was just how he liked it. He couldn't see anything. Not with his eyes nor anyone else's.

But he could hear a helluva lotta noise nearby. So he mosied on over, making his way into a forest party. So he put on a smile and prepared for combat conversation.
I withdraw. Love you all.

This is the cover of Kingdom Come's first issue, entitled "Strange Visitor". I love it. It doesn't look like a comic book. Sure it has grown men with weird outfits, but this looks like a representation of history meant to be put up in government building. This looks like the way that George Washington and his posse were portrayed by Emanuel Leutze when they were #CrossingTheDeleware. But instead of carrying the American flag, they're just standing there, menacing you, as The Spectre (God's Spirit of Vengeance) stands among them. But The Spectre isn't staring you down. He's just keeping his head down. Is there a metaphor there? Probably.

When Kingdom Come came out, it was the summer of 1996. Mark Waid had spent a great deal of the decade writing stories like The Legion of Super-Heroes, The Flash and Justice League. He'd only recently gotten knee deep writing X-Men, Onslaught and Deadpool before he began production on this story. Basically the premise of the story is that the old superheroes were pushed out of the limelight by younger, edgier heroes who stand in stark contrast to the previous generation with their characteristic lack of mercy and hyperviolent ways. My personal theory is that this is less of a commentary on other comic writers output and more of a meditation on his own bibliography. To back this up, you even see a cameo from The Legion of Super-Heroes amongst the old heroes, even though that would make absolutely no sense from an in-universe chronological perspective.

You could argue that this story isn't even about superheroes, though. The character that we start the narrative by focusing on is a preacher who is reading from the book of Revelation. Wanna guess who he's reading to? Too bad. He's spending time with the geriatric Wesley Dodds, once a wiry and spry superhero, now reduced to an unraveling knot of bed-ridden organ failure. He used to be The Sandman. He used to be a superhero. One page-turn later and he's just dead. So the preacher dude goes out into the world and checks out a restaurant where everyone is dressed up as a classic superhero, mostly Justice Leaguers. One of the waiters is dressed up as Hal Jordan, but he literally doesn't even know whose costume he's wearing. It really hammers in the theme of the previous generation being deemed more and more irrelevant and, even worse, forgotten.

It reminds me of Grant Morrison's New X-Men, where Professor Xavier tells Magneto "The only thing you have that they want is your face on a t-shirt". Don't get me wrong. I hate Hal Jordan, but I also refuse to wear clothing with symbols or logos on them that I haven't thought about intensively because I refuse to allow people I dislike to use me as a billboard. So it's against my personal philosophies and probably isn't a universal takeaway.

He ends up stewing on how the new heroes battle each other just for the thrill of it and how the old are fading fast. Then he starts receiving intrusive visions of the future that unsettle him. It gets to him so bad that he ends up preaching doom and gloom in a sermon to his congregation before cutting himself off, apologizing and dismissing his audience. Shortly afterward, he's met by The Spectre, who explains that he is assigned to punish the wicked and deliver vengeance, but he literally cannot because his faculties are not what they once were and that he needs to a host to accomplish his plan. He wanted Wesley because he had been having visions of the future, but Wesley's dead. So this dude winds up with the Spectre by process of elimination.

They go on a little spirit walk where they see Wonder Woman check up on a gray-tinged Superman in the fortress of solitude where he's living out a fantasy of being a simple farmer. She tells him that they need him in order to stand up to the new generation of super heroes because everyone follows his lead. Even the old timers who didn't entirely give up still were changed remarkably. The Green Lantern created an Emerald City that looked upon the Earth from below, an idea that I love, btw. The Flash runs through Central City and literally never stops, correcting everything with a faux omnipresence that only the fastest man alive could muster. Hawkman is acting as a protector of the remaining natural environment, which has become very minute after the new generation of superheroes attacked The Parasite viciously and literally relentlessly before The Parasite cracked Captain Atom open in an attempt to end his suffering, destroying the midwestern United States, and therefore causing an ecological/economic disaster.

Superman has been living in a self imposed exile for the better part of the past ten years when he was essentially outshined by Magog, one of the antiheroes we keep mentioning, and the public refused to heed his warnings that this style of heroism would destroy the world. Diana attempts to snap him out of his complacency by insisting that they need him to take the lead, not because of his might but because he is Superman, the epitome of heroism. If he doesn't stand up then neither would the rest. Superman declines, dismissing Wonder Woman.

That's where the vision ends. That preacher dude is, like, super let down by Superman's bogus response, and asserts that The Spectre was supposed to have provided hope. The Spectre quips that he, in fact, did not ever promise hope. Hold that in mind for a second. Then they take a peek at a fight between superheroes and villains. You literally can't tell who is who on account of the massive amounts of damage that is being done. Preacher-dude screams "We need Hope" and guess what. All of the guns are crushed by hands more powerful than a locomotive. In a whirlwind, a dangling cablecar is deposited safely and Superman has brought the battle to a close.

Which is one of the best executed superhero interventions ever because it's strongly implied that Superman had truly retired. Unfortunately, the world rejects him once more. The final page displays him being overtaken by a redness that I presume to be either radiation or magic. The point of origin isn't given away in this particular issue. A real cliffhanger. Having never read it, I imagine it might be this Magog that keeps coming up. But yeah. For a second it looked like everything was gonna be okay. Though the spectre of God's vengeance had been insufficient, Superman had not forsaken the world.

Anyhow, I'm off to bed. If anybody has any interpretations of this that they wanna bounce off of me, I am, like, all ears. Or at least, like, 87 percent ears. I assume I probably have some blood and serotonin left in me given that I feel an overwhelming need to slump off to sleep.

When I was a kid, the first Blue Beetle that I knew was Jaime Reyes. I liked him a lot because he had a really neat gimmick with the whole Scarab thing going on. But I had no idea about Ted Kord, who I now adore thoroughly. Jaime is a cool kid. But Ted was a real hero, complete with a completely self sacrificing loyalty to his friends and allies. He was uncompromising on his principles and was willing to do what was necessary to save the day even though he deserved better personally. Reading his death was the first time that a comic book made me cry. I was, like, fifteen. Man, that was a great story. Great character.

Keep on keepin' on, @Hound55.
Nightly Ramblings

In Which Comic Books Are Dignified As Literature
Worthy Of Consideration Beyond That With Which
They Are Usually Ascribed

Or NR IWCBADALWOCBTWWTAUA for short and if that acronym seems insufficient, I recommend NI for shorter. Anyhow, I like comic books. I like 'em a lot. I always have. In fact, in my youth I developed a literal code of chivalry that I had sworn to, upheld through my middle teenage years and have since forgotten the actual terms of, based upon the behaviour and tenets of superheroes (one of which was Always Get Back Up).

I got into comic books because I was fixated on The Batman when I was a lad, and, not counting the Bionicle comics which confounded me at the time, my first actual comic book that I personally owned was Scott Snyder's Batman Annual #1, from back when the New 52 first launched. I loved it. The first series I would actually read all the way through was the first run on Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man, trailed by Watchmen, Geoff Johns Green Lantern (My copy of Green Lantern: Secret Origin got stolen out of my locker when I was in middle school. I would've reaped my revenge had I known who it was. I hadn't finished reading it), and Vince Vaughan's The Runaways.

It wasn't the presence of violence, bright colors or the scantily clad women. I felt like comic books were the perfect storytelling medium. With opportunity for text and illustration, sometimes acting as one, usually working in concert that allowed me to get totally immersed. I didn't hate TV, but I'd usually rather have been reading a comic book. I found it much harder to think actively while watching TV. I didn't like my attention being steered at someone elses pace. I loved the intimacy of leaning over a page and ignoring everything else. I was a pretty solitary type for a litany of reasons.

You can't really share a comic book like you can an episode of a television show or an audiobook. It makes for an awkward experience. But I think that the fact that it's something you kinda have to do alone, makes it feel all the more communal when you'd get together with whatever buds you had that actually engaged with it on the same level, with similar immersion and neurotic single-minded fixation on the pages.

I guess NI is supposed to be that. I want to update this every Saturday, which means I'm already late, but hey, better late than never (sometimes). So the idea is that every week we're going to discuss a single issue of a comic book. From now until August 31st, we're gonna be focusing on Mark Waid's seminal Kingdom Come #1, at which point we'll get to talking about #2, until we're done and pick a new series/arc/run. Thanks for joining. I gotta fly to get to work, but I already read the first issue and I'll post my thoughts later.
<Snipped quote by Lord Wraith>

I don't understand what I did? Outside of my post-high casual writing style.
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