The coming of Magog: Behind the Kingdom Come villain’s shocking return
Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s classic Kingdom Come has its lethal antihero Magog resurface in the most unlikely place and closer to Superman than ever.
Over 25 years ago, Alex Ross and Mark Waid presented a potential future for the DC Universe in their universally acclaimed miniseries Kingdom Come. Set in an era where Superman has retired in the face of enduring an immense personal tragedy amidst the rise of more lethal antiheroes being embraced by the public, one of the most controversial figures of this dystopian future is Magog. While potential origins for Magog have been presented before, this all changes with Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #10 by Waid and Dan Mora.
World’s Finest introduced David Sikela, a refugee from an alternate universe that mirrored the main DCU. In a backstory echoing Superman’s, David’s parents sent him to the DCU as the sole survivor of his doomed world as it collapsed to a harrowing apocalypse. Discovering he had superpowers of his own in this new environment, David dubbed himself Boy Thunder and became a protege for Superman, teaming up with the original iteration of the Teen Titans to learn the ropes.
However, after being subjected to the most twisted elements of the DCU, a vengeful David is revealed to be the once and future Magog, hinting at the DCU heading towards a version of Kingdom Come’s events.
The Surprising Origin of Magog
As Superman began to work closely with David, he started to be concerned by David’s struggle to fully regard the destructive potential his powers gave him with caution, his pronounced temper, and his growing alienation from the superhero community. David’s inexperience and relative isolation made him a high-profile target for the Joker, who kidnapped Boy Thunder and whisked him away to an interdimensional hideout provided by his supervillain ally The Key.
At the hands of the Clown Prince of Crime, David endured prolonged torture, as the Joker interrogated the young hero for Superman and Batman’s secret identities, becoming violently frustrated when David didn't reveal the desired information.
Superman and Batman led the Teen Titans to track down The Key’s otherworldly lair and free David, with Boy Thunder visibly traumatized and now bearing a scar over his right eye – a scar that Magog maintains decades later as an adult. The heroes are taken aback by how far David takes his revenge on the Joker, vowing to kill the supervillain if he ever sees him again. To remove any doubt of David’s future, a glimpse of him making good on his vengeance is shown, with Magog towering over a slain Joker.
Magog possesses strength, speed, and endurance on par with Superman and is similarly able to fly. Magog can form immense amounts of plasma energy around him and usually channels it through a large spear to emit devastating projectile attacks. Some depictions of Magog outside of Kingdom Come have him able to teleport, whisking away people with him around the world.
Magog’s Kingdom Come Future
Years after the current DCU time period, the Joker attacks the Daily Planet building in Metropolis, wiping out most of the venerable newspaper’s staff, including Lois Lane. Even having lost his wife and many of his friends and colleagues, Superman is a firm advocate of the Joker facing justice for his crimes in court. This desire to adhere to the established justice system is completely undercut when Magog publicly executes the Joker as he is led outside of the courthouse, with overwhelming public support for the brash move leading Magog to be acquitted.
Disgusted by this subversion of justice in favor of a growing wave of vigilantes who openly operate as judge, jury, and executioner, Superman retires in seclusion at the Fortress of Solitude for years. During Superman’s absence, Magog leads a team of superheroes to confront the supervillain Parasite in the Midwest, resulting in Captain Atom being destroyed and much of the American Heartland being irradiated, leading to the deaths of millions and food production to be put into disarray.
Magog, who survives the harrowing incident, is brought into custody by Superman, who emerges from retirement in the wake of the tragedy and forms a new, more proactive Justice League. Overcome with remorse for what happened to the Midwest, Magog is seen chastising his counterparts who don’t respect the older generation of superheroes, before adopting a peaceful way of life in Themyscira where he cares for the wounded and helps teach new generations of heroes to avoid his mistakes.
The Kingdom and Thy Kingdom Come
Waid revisited the world of Kingdom Come in the 1998 sequel The Kingdom, with a survivor from the Midwest incident becoming empowered by the Quintessence, dubbing himself Gog.
Driven mad with power, Gog continually killed Superman through time, moving closer to the main DCU timeline, while hinting that Superman and Wonder Woman’s son was destined to be his protege and become Magog. This proved to be a misdirection, with the superhero’s child growing up to be Hyperman while Gog was defeated, and the future of Kingdom Come was averted for the main DCU.
A more definitive origin for Magog within the DCU is provided in the Justice Society of America storyline 'Thy Kingdom Come' by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham, and Fernando Pasarin. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s great-grandson David Reid is recruited by the JSA after developing superpowers following exposure to an ancient artifact in Iraq.
While battling a paramilitary organization in Africa, David is struck by a stray rocket and revived by the presumed deity Gog to become his servant on Earth, Magog, watching his Kingdom Come counterpart’s appearance and powers. Shortly after turning on Gog and defeating him, Magog comes his own way to carry out justice as he sees fit.
Magog’s Redefined Role
The Magog reveal in World’s Finest #10 does not necessarily undo the origin story provided in 'Thy Kingdom Come,' but it does provide another interesting wrinkle in Magog’s backstory. Waid and Mora’s Kid Thunder has been identified from the outset as being an individual from an alternate universe whereas 'Thy Kingdom Come' had its Magog come from within the DCU. Both iterations of David Reid could theoretically exist, though Waid and Mora’s version has an added reason to want to kill the Joker himself.
In the years since Kingdom Come, Alex Ross and Mark Waid have, with the help of their own respective collaborators, provided their own differing origins for Magog. Created as a commentary on the rise of antiheroes in ‘90s comics, Magog has since become something of Ghost of Christmas Future for the DCU, providing a glimpse at what could become of the universe if its heroes become complacent.
What Waid and Mora have done, however, is make Magog more intrinsically connected to Superman, twisting the knife all the more painfully for the Man of Steel when his old protege inevitably breaks bad.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #10 is written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Steve Wands. The story continues in issue #11, on sale Jan. 17 from DC Comics.
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