This was a four-issue limited series set in an alternate reality outside that of the mainstream DC Universe designated as Earth-22.
The setting for Kingdom Come took place some twenty years into the future of the year that it began publication. The older, more established super-heroes had gone into retirement, giving rise to a new generation of anti-heroes, who did not uphold the same noble values as their predecessors.
Mark Waid and Alex Ross wrote Kingdom Come as an indictment against the growing trend of violent anti-hero archetypes that had sprung out of the early 1990s.
Norman McCay is now seeing a vision of “seven angels” bathed in the fire of what appears to be the torch of the Statue of Liberty. He and the Spectre are taken to where the vision leads them: to the Statue of Liberty where the Americommando, a gun-toting fascist, fires upon immigrants approaching Ellis Island with his Minutemen, warning them to leave America or else.
He is soon diverted by a trio of robots, Red, White, and Blue, attacking him, but their personal battle is in the middle of innocents who they care very little for. This battle is interrupted by Superman…and he isn’t alone: he is joined by seven others from the Justice League who have returned to duty to deal not only with them, but also with two psionics called the Brain Trust who were using this personal battle for their own ends. They are both rendered unconscious by the appearance of Red Robin, a former partner of Batman who has also joined Superman’s team.
After the successful confrontation, Superman and his Justice League allies appear at the United Nations to address the press conference gathered there. They announce that they will deal with the rogue superhumans currently on the loose. However, the Secretary-General of the United Nations isn’t confident of Superman’s means to achieve their goals, and neither is Bruce Wayne, who has retired as Batman but still has the desire to continue working as a hero, willing to join Superman’s reformed Justice League for that purpose. Nonetheless, Superman and the Justice League press forward with their intended goal, negotiating with superhumans who are willing to join the cause and using force on those who oppose them.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has assembled a team of retired villains, calling themselves the Mankind Liberation Front, intending to use the battle between Superman’s Justice League and the rogue superhumans to their own ends and purposes. Among them, Norman McCay and the Spectre see an adult Billy Batson acting as a servant to Lex Luthor, pleasantly giving him a shave.
At a nightclub where a group of random superhumans cavort, Superman gets their attention to deliver a message: that they should willingly join the League or else they will be dealt with. As Nightstar and Avia consider taking up Superman’s offer to join him after he leaves, Oliver Queen shows up to offer them an alternative.
However, Superman is beginning to see more superhumans choosing to turn against the League rather than join them, so after some failed negotiation talks with Arthur Curry (who has surrendered his Aquaman identity to his former protege to take on his role as the king of Atlantis) and with Orion (who has killed his father Darkseid and has taken his place as the fearsome ruler of Apokolips), he turns to Mr. Miracle and his wife Big Barda for the answers.
Soon they find Magog standing on what’s left of the Kansas landscape, futilely trying to rebuild, and Superman confronts him about the disaster he’s caused. Magog blames Superman for the disaster, saying it all started when the Joker killed the Daily Planet staff, including Superman’s wife Lois Lane.
As the Joker was being brought into custody, Magog had killed him with a blast from his energy staff. Superman had brought Magog into court for his actions, but the judge ruled in favour of Magog, considering his actions “justifiable” and acquitting him. Rather than accepting Magog’s challenge to fight him, Superman had then simply flown off and was never seen until the present time.
It is at that moment that Magog realises the real reason Superman took off: it wasn’t that he had feared Magog, but rather he feared that Magog was the kind of hero people wanted and the kind of future he represented. As Superman mockingly says to Magog, “You must be proud”, he angrily blasts Superman with his staff before kneeling down in defeat, wanting Superman to kill him or do anything to take away the voices of a million ghosts haunting him.
While Superman and the Justice League are busy building “a stronghold of justice” using plans given to them by Mr. Miracle, Bruce Wayne is seen making an unseemly alliance with Lex Luthor’s team of villains.