One of the most acclaimed DC Comics stories — in the main DC Universe’s continuity or otherwise — is Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come. The 1996 Elseworlds miniseries depicted an alternate future where a new generation of super-powered figures that used their incredible abilities more recklessly and lethally surfaced as the classic DC heroes fell into seclusion and perceived public irrelevance.
The book smash hit with critics and audiences alike, Kingdom Come would be revisited and expanded in two subsequent tales that saw its characters interacting with the main DCU to prevent this alternate future from coming to pass.
Years after the relative present of the DCU, the Joker massacred most of The Daily Planet‘s staff, including Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane. While a grieving Superman called for a conventional trial for the Clown Prince of Crime, a new superhero named Magog appeared and murdered the Joker in front of the courthouse. Instead of being denounced, Magog’s lethal force was widely praised, and a disheartened Superman retired to the Fortress of Solitude while a broken Bruce Wayne had his identity discovered and carried out his ongoing war on crime from the safety of the Batcave by employing an army of robot drones.
After the battle between Magog and his team of superheroes and several villains results in the mass irradiation of Kansas, Superman decides to emerge from his self-imposed exile to train the new generation of heroes by any means necessary, imprisoning the non-compliant in a gulag within the ruins of Kansas. As the imprisoned broke free and fought the older heroes, Lex Luthor dispatched a mind-controlled Shazam to fight Superman while the United Nations attempted to eradicate the world’s super-powered population with a nuclear warhead. Ultimately, Shazam would sacrifice his life to destroy the warhead, though dozens of superheroes were still killed in the blast. Superman vowed to lead the superhero community inspired by Shazam’s selfless example while making amends with Batman and forming a romantic relationship with Wonder Woman.
With artists Ariel Olivetti and Mike Zeck, Waid would return years later to craft a sequel in The Kingdom, The 1999 miniseries began 20 years after the events of Kingdom Come, with an unhinged man gainly omnipotent powers and becoming the villainous Gog. This new antagonist would repeatedly kill Superman across time, traveling further back towards the relative present of the DCU to help accelerate the events of the Kingdom Come reality into becoming permanent.
As Gog reaches the point in the timeline when Superman and Wonder Woman’s son was born, the time-traveling superhero Rip Hunter recruits the modern-day Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to join him and the elder heroes of Kingdom Come in stopping Gog from causing Kingdom Come into becoming the main DCU’s reality. Using artifacts acquired across Hypertime — all the divergent timelines stemming from the main DCU — the heroes are able to defeat Gog while the Kingdom Come future lives on in its own divergent future.
While putting out a massive industrial fire, Starman — a member of the Legion of the Super-Heroes who had traveled to the DCU’s relative present — accidentally opened up a wormhole resulting in the Superman from Kingdom Come‘s Earth-22 to appear in the main DCU the moment the nuclear warhead that killed Shazam struck. Believing his world to be dead, this Superman joined the Justice Society of America for a time while the team confronted a new incarnation of Gog and Magog.
Together with the JSA, the two false deities were defeated before they could cause further harm to the DCU. Following their battle, Starman returned Superman to his own world where he discovered that a handful of superheroes had survived as seen in Kingdom Come. In an epilogue, Superman is seen raising a family with Wonder Woman, attending Batman’s funeral and watching as a new generation of superheroes live up to his idealistic example in the far future of Earth-22.
Kingdom Come unveiled a harsh, alternate future for the DC Universe, but that wasn't the end for its DC heroes.