Wednesday, June 21, 2006


New Frontier

Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier was one of the best books of the last few years, and arguably the best thing to feature DC superheroes in a damned long while. A kind of "real time" superhero yarn, it features the characters of DC's silver age comic, set in the time period in which those books were first published. A note perfect evocation of the late 50s, warts and all, with all of the jetsetting and glamour, but with the seamy underbelly of rampant racism and Cold War paranoia and the like, as well.

Yesterday came the news that the book was getting the full "Absolute" treatment in October, a 464 page oversized hardcover packed with "new story pages, detailed annotations, alternate sequences and an extensive gallery of sketches, pinups, action figure art and much more." Exciting, right?

Well, it gets better. Today I stumble upon the news that the book is to be adapted into a direct-to-video animated feature, written by Stan Berkowitz and produced by none-other-than Bruce Timm. How awesome is that?

That could be great! The JLU was fantastic and I loved every page of Cooke's NEW FRONTIER.

I remember reading in an interview, when New Frontier was first hitting the racks, that Cooke was writing the series as a thematic sequel to Robinson/Smith's wonderful THE GOLDEN AGE. If you haven't checked it out, you should. Same storytelling sensibilities and features the JSA. I revisit about once a year.
I'm a big fan of The Golden Age, no question about it, though Robinson's Starman was probably a bigger influence on me.

I loved how the leftover golden age characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were treated in New Frontier. I wondered for a second whether New Frontier could actually be read as taking place in the same world as The Golden Age, but as the latter didn't have any of those three characters (as it was ostensibly the post-Crisis universe) I guess it wouldn't work, would it?

I wonder if it would be possible to do a similar realtime approach in the early Eighties, featuring all of the characters introduced in that decade. Or would it just get too terribly complicated, to have to address how Batman had been around for forty years and hadn't aged, for example?
An Eighties project in that vein could work pretty well, but I'd even stretch it back to the late 70s a bit. Get characters like Firestorm, Booster Gold, the Detroit League into the mix.

I think Mark Millar has something like this in the works over at Marvel called 1985. From what I remember, it might be his next project after Civil War.

That said, I'm more of a DC fanboy anyway.
That's Millar's fumetti project, right? I might check it out. But Marvel's pretty much lost me with this Civil War nonsense, and the only books of theirs I'm following at the moment are Runaways, Young Avengers, the Ultimates titles, and anything by Dan Slott or Robert Kirkman. I'm looking forward to Agents of Atlas, but I'm on the fence about getting the individual issues or waiting for the trade.

That said, I was deeply nonplussed about the end of Infinite Crisis, and I've cut almost all of the DC books I was following. I'm buying 52 because there's a one in four chance that any given page is written by Grant Morrison, but the rest of the event stuff is lost on me.

Booster Gold was definitely one of the characters I was thinking would have to be included in an 80s series. And how could you not include Vibe?! Firestorm would be a good addition, too. Hell, even Jemm and Silverblade, for that matter...
I've been less than thrilled with the majority of Millar's output. I like what's going at DC with Batman and Superman, though.

Other 80s characters - Amethyst, Blue Devil, Suicide Squad although that is later 80s. There are plenty of oddball characters from the era.
Yeah, I've been impressed with Busiek's and John's take on Superman, and Robinson's Batman (and I'm eagerly looking forward to Grant Morrison and Paul Dini on their Batman books. And, of course, Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman has been genius. And while there's only been one issue so far, I've been impressed with Allan Heinberg's Wonder Woman. That said, the rest of the line has pretty much lost me, dancing back and forth across the line of status quo, or else gone so needlessly grim and dark that they don't really appeal to me at all.

But man, this 80s idea is really growing on me. You'd have to have Night Force in the mix, of course. Essentially anyone from a book I was reading in 1982. Hmmm...
Yeah, I can rifle through my old DC Presents and probably pick out some of the obscure characters. Get Atari Force into the Mix and Warlord (even though he's being 'reimagined' right now).
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