You have to love DC Direct's Elseworlds line: rather than focusing on just one story, which could only support so many characters, it covers dozens of books from the past few decades. Brilliant! It even allows DCD to resurrect pre-existing lines that may have run out of steam, such as Kingdom Come, which hasn't been seen in two years. It gets a bit unweidly, since Elseworlds Series 2 contains Kingdom Come Series 4, but the numbers don't change the toys. The plastic's what matters, so let's get to it.
The wandering spirit of God's vengeance, the Spectre has grown distant from the humanity he has been charged with observing. Recognizing that he may not be fit to judge the coming events, he seeks a human anchor - Reverend Norman McKay, a simple preacher who has been experiencing prophetic visions. Together they bear witness to the march toward armageddon.
This set is actually a two-pack, giving us both the Spectre and Norman McKay, which really works out to a "one and a half" pack, but maybe not the way you think. We'll start with Whitey.
The Spectre was created by one of Superman's two daddies, Jerry Siegel, and was the first superhero ghost - regular cop Jim Corrigan was killed, but was turned away at the pearly gates and sent back to earth to avenge wrongdoings. His power level has fluctuated over the 60+ years since his introduction, from simple magic tricks to casually re-writing reality at a whim. By the time of Kingdom Come, a decade in the future, the Spectre has pretty much lost his humanity due to his near-infinite power. He is, now, a divine presence, an angel.
The old Spectre used to appear fearsome and dreadful to scare the criminals he was tormenting - not this one, though. The Kingdom Come Spectre looks human, but is scary and unsettling just by being so removed from us. He doesn't try to look threatening because he's forgotten what we consider a threat. His power is conveyed by aloof indifference, not cheap scares. All this was conveyed, in Alex Ross' art, by a simple and subtle costume change:
having removed himself from human concerns, he's also lost human modesty. Gone are the gloves, trunks and boots; now he wears nothing but his hooded cloak. Yes, folks, the Spectre is going commando.
The Spectre has only his cape to cover him,
but it's draped in such a way as to cover his shame. Not that that was really a concern - clever readers will remember that there was already a nude male figure in this line, Kingdom Come Flash. From the neck down, Spectre uses the same sculpt as KC Flash, but since all we can see is his chest, stomach and one arm, the re-use is anything but blatant. He moves at the Big Five, but three of those joints (left shoulder and both hips) are concealed by his cloak.
The head is new, and it looks great. The green hood drapes well around his pale white face,
and his black eyes are rimmed with a grey that matches his mouth. The only minor complaint is that his eyes are solid black: in the comic, one of the cooler details was the small gleam in his eyes; zoom in on a close-up, and you'd see not a reflection of light, but a tiny skull. Neat! His skin is solid white, and I have to say, DCD missed an opportunity here: Ross always gives the Spectre an ephemeral haze in his paintings, so make the figure glow in the dark. The last Spectre did, and it would have worked here, too.
The Spectre is looking down not out of sadness, but because he is taller than the others - his cape already falls lower than his feet, but to help sell the idea that he's floating, he comes with an inch-high pedestal to raise him up. All together, he's 7 3/4" tall, so most of the other figures barely crest his shoulder.
Rev. Norman McKay is our point of view character for the series, as he's the one who asks the questions the reader would ask. The Spectre drags him all over the place, narrating the end of the world. The only time he even interacts with the story is when the Flash grabs him, and then at the end when he and Jim Corrigan are eating at the Planet Krypton restaurant (they ordered the Spectre Platter: spinach and cottage cheese).
Though he's a minister, it's of the plainclothes variety - he's not wearing robes
and a collar or anything crazy like that. No, his vestments are the same as any generic old man: black slacks, brown shoes and belt, a white collared shirt and a blue knit sweater. The sculpt is darn realistic, with no outlandish wrinkles or anything. He's even got a red pen and his glasses case in his breast pocket. Detail! He's even got old-man hands, with thin skin and prominent veins.
Like Norman Rockwell, Alex Ross often bases his paintings on real life people.
For example, the model for Norman McKay was a real minister, Clark Ross - it's Alex Ross's dad! You'll see a lot of people dressed as comic characters walking around any convention, but Alex Ross's Dad might be the only actual comic character. He's recognizable, even from a distance. If you see him, shout "it's Alex Ross's dad!" in surprise. I'd imagnine he loves it. More than anything.
Norman's looking pretty good for an old man.
He looks almost exactly like the comic version - the only real difference is that his eyes are open a bit wide. The Rev. was always a bit squinty in the story. The tiny, tiny wrinkles around his eyes and on his brow are brought out by a truly subtle paint wash. His eyes, unlike the Spectre's, actually get a highlight. He stands 6 1/2" tall and moves at the wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. The head is the only balljoint in the set. He gets a simple black disc base, like many of the DCD Kingdom Come figures.
Despite the fact that these figures are part of Elseworlds Series 2, they share the same packaging style as the first three series, which is good for the MOC crowd. No sane person cares about that, of course, but it shows that DC Direct is thinking. Especially since the other Elseworlds 2 figures come on blister cards and these are boxed.
It's been 10 years since Kingdom Come was published, which means we're now living in the future it prophesied. It would have been a shame if this year had passed without some recognition - that we got this particular pair, the only witnesses to the whole story, seems perfect.
What KC figures would you still like to see? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.