Overview

Justice League: The New Frontier Special

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Justice League: The New Frontier Special

Credits

  • Words: Darwyn Cooke
  • Art: Darwyn Cooke, Dave Bullock, & J. Bone
  • Inks: Darwyn Cooke, Michael Cho, & J. Bone
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: Chapter X: For the Greater Good, et al.
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release Date: Mar 5, 2008

To quote Rip Hunter in the prologue to this issue: "Let’s just go with it and have some fun."

Timed to coincide with Warner Bros.’ release of the direct-to-DVD New Frontier animated movie, this special issue revisits Darwyn Cooke’s magnum opus. The results are some cool jazz and young rock-n-roll riffs. Take a blast into the past, cats and kittens, to see how it all went down…

Those who have read New Frontier know that passing mention was made of a battle when Superman tried to capture the "illegal" vigilante, Batman. In the first tale of this special, readers learn the secret story behind that battle in 1955. The second installment involves Robin flying solo to bust a ring of thieves and drag racers. The Boy Wonder meets a speed demon of a different type, though, and a fast friendship is born. Finally, in the last story of the issue, Wonder Woman decides to try to teach men a little something about respecting women and she starts her crusade at the opening of a certain club (I’ll give you a hint: the waitresses wear rabbit ears). Black Canary tags along to try to keep her friend out of too much trouble… In addition to these three stories Darwyn Cooke provides some New Frontier style comic book ads and a round of back material and artwork on the development and designs of the animated movie.

I will say this right from the start: if you read The New Frontier and enjoyed it then this special is a must have – even if you have no intention of seeing the animated film. Cooke returns to his old stomping grounds here without missing a stomp. The three short tales he gives readers are action-packed and emotionally thrilling and yes, funny as all get-out. Even the Batman-Superman fight, despite being done-to-death in comic books, takes on a new freshness as Cooke portrays a Superman and a Batman before they became friends. These are two men who do not really know each other and each end up fighting the other for the sake of their freedom and Cooke makes you feel every inch of it. Likewise, Cooke catches some of the ‘60’s cool flavor with his Robin story – tagging back to the roots of the Teen Titans but giving these kids a little edge and rubbing away some of the saccharineness of the original stories.

Of course, the art cannot be ignored. Cooke provides the pencils for the opening prelude as well as the Batman-Superman story. To say the least he does his usual superb job at catching elements of the Golden Age/Silver Age and mixing them with his own square-jawed, animated style. Dave Bullock, however, takes over the reins for the Robin story and presents readers with a fluid, equally animated style that echoes Cooke’s own but with a few softer edges. Either way you slice it, the two are a perfect complement to each other. For the final story, J. Bone, Cooke’s long-time inking collaborator, takes center stage. For the borderline burlesque comedy of this piece he provides a broadly cartoony style that goes just as far over the top as the rest of the humor does.

If nothing else, Justice League: The New Frontier Special would be a triumph in tone alone since all of the scripts and the varied artists work in tandem to create something that feels so very like a coherent whole. This title goes beyond that, however, and allows us a little feel for the past, a little glimpse at how that shapes our present, and does so in a manner that thoroughly entertains. Could you ask for anything more?

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