In today’s volatile, if not uncomfortably awkward political climate where the distinct divergence of ideals has decided to rear its ugly head, it’s sometimes easier to just go back in time to our comfort zone where super heroes made everything better. This is not meant to be a symbolic shrinking into a corner all curled up in the fetal position kind of escapism, this is simply a reflection on one way to cope with the now through the heroism of our childhood.
Back in 2004, DC Comics published the short series DC: The New Frontier, originally released in six issues and compiled later in the year as a 2-volume trade paperback anthology (the library version reviewed here). Written and illustrated by the talented Darwyn Cooke with distinct color by Dave Stewart and Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher, this collection of work brings the classic style and emotion of the early DC super hero hora and takes a more direct look at the cold war era with modern social concerns and expectations. In essence, this series is all about the past with today’s insight. In short, it’s really cool.
Cooke takes readers on a creative journey back in time by combining some classic moments in history with a more modern version of the DC superheroes. By removing the characters from an archetypal stoic patriotism and reintroducing them with a more genuine vulnerability, real world issues and social concerns are illuminated as the story progresses through such an unstable era in history.
Cooke’s use of the classic rendering style of the Golden and Silver Age of DC bring these characters to life with a sense of comfort for the longtime fan and a new perspective for the younger audience. This combined interpretation of both art and memorandum is the soul of what has become the New Frontier.
The author was born in the twilight of the era, but sadly passed away in May 2016 of lung cancer. MD Jackson posted a worthy tribute to the artist at Amazing Stories. An influential artist and writer, Cooke has left fandom an example of what comics can and should be.
The message is powerful and should be experienced by those interested in both history and the DC universe, but it is through this vintage graphic imagery that many fans will find the most fulfillment and pleasure. Even if it is just for a little escapism form the improbability of today’s reality, it is a good place to go. DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke is a work of art.