Tuesday, April 12, 2005

DC: The New Frontier

I'm normally a little skeptical about JLA-based Elseworlds. There have been a few, and I only ever really enjoyed Age of Wonders, and then because I am so damnably enamoured with Victorian England.

But New Frontier...god. It goes right back to the meat of what DC is about. It goes back to those long forgotten, halcyon glory days of the 1950s. It captures the innate heroism of the time without the goofy gimmicks forced upon the characters by the CCA. It's a comic about real people, and real heroes...real heroes who also happen to be superheroes. Its a world where Superman isn't just some idiotic boyscout, but someone who honestly believes in the ideals he upholds, and gives a glimpse that he doesn't just naievly trust the government...he's actually trying to change it from the inside. To be the microcosm of what he feels America should be. And Wonder Woman...a Wonder Woman who shows the two sides of the Greek goddesses she follows: she is both the motherly and protective Hera, and also the wise and battle-hardened Athena. And she doesn't buy into political BS anymore than Superman.

And Green Lantern. This is possibly the most human portrayel of Hal Jordan I have ever seen. He has...feelings, fears, hopes, dreams. His dissapointments seem more real, especially when you watch how much he struggles with things before he gets the ring. In my mind the only thing that would have made New Frontier better is if he had said the Oath. He makes a comment, as he charges his ring, that "I feel like I should say something heroic"...but I can imagine how Cooke would break up the panel structure for the Oath, to center on the climax at the words "Green Lantern's light!".

And the little cameos. Vandal Savage in a cell, ranting about knowing the secrets of a primordial horror. The Chief, talking science and strategy, presumably...but he never says a word in the panel in which he appears (though there is later a picture of him surrounded by the heads of Robotman and Negative Man, with Elastic-Girl's silhouette in the background). Doctor Magnus BEFORE he made the Metal Men.

And the final issue. Dear god. A speech by JFK, summing up, really, what it was to be a superhero back then. A real speech, but the art that Cooke applies to it is just perfect. The glimpses he offers of things to come are of a larger, brighter, fuller world of heroes, proudly marching into a new dawn, a new age, a new frontier where the world is there's to defend. Embracing their purpose. Embracing their duty.

I HIGHLY recommend DC: The New Frontier. Volume 2 came out last week. You can buy them both. Don't let the slightly simplistic art fool you. Yeah, its a bit closer to Mignola than it is to the regular JLA team...but it WORKS.

Also, I think I like the Challengers of the Unknown now. It helps that I actually understand now who the hell they are. Before I only knew them by the TPB title "The Challengers of the Unknown: MUST DIE!" (greatest TPB title EVER!).


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