The Silver Age of DC Reborn
The late Darwin Cooke is famous for his fantastic art style. He usually was called in for stories published by DC Comics, such as Catwoman and Batman Ego. In 2004, He was approached to make a Justice League story that would bridge the Golden Age of Comics to the Silver Age. He quickly got to work in creating this story, and soon DC: The New Frontier was born. How does this take on the transitional era hold up?
**Some Spoilers Below**
Due to the size of the story, focusing on the age, we follow three protagonists closely. The first is J’onn J’onzz, who, after being brought to Earth on accident, seeks to find his way home. With rising tensions of the Cold War, he worries he’ll be found out as he goes about his daily life. However, it’s not just J’onn as Barry Allen also tries to find a peaceful existence in a world where masks are frowned upon.
The last character we follow is Hal Jordan, a former air force pilot, as he is recruited for a space mission to Mars alongside Task Force X. The group learns of J’onn’s existence and worries his people will end up a threat to the world.
This story is big, and even that is an understatement. While the summary may focus on three characters, it truly focuses on the period between the Gold and Silver ages of comics. We see Golden Age DC heroes such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman adapting to a world that questions their intent. At the same time, the Justice Society of America is put on trial. It’s genuinely fascinating to see how this time period looked to their heroes as one war ended and a new one began.
Out of the three listed above, Barry’s story is shown the least, yet it is the most intriguing. While Jonn’s evolution from visitor to cop to hero is very well done, Barry goes through a bit of growth himself. He takes the name of The Flash and does his part to help Central City and is appreciated for it. When the government tries to capture him, Barry begins questioning his position. Should he continue down this path when the government would try to vilify him? While it’s obvious what he chooses, Barry’s story is a prime example of the real issues of this time.
Darwyn Cooke is well known for his fantastic art style, and it fits perfectly here. He captures an old school feel, calling back to the style of the legendary Jack Kirby. To keep up with the authenticity, he looked to design the heroes as close to their original looks as possible. Superman is designed to match his old cartoons, Batman and Jonn match their original comic appearance, even an explanation of why Hal wears his Green Lantern mask.
Cooke also manages to include a variety of references to the period. Television personalities, celebrities like Cassius Clay and Frank Sinatra, and even C-List heroes by the time the final battle comes around. This DC world of a time long past looks excellent even by today’s standards.
DC: The New Frontier presents a fantastic recreation of a time long past. This world is full of references to the history of these characters we’ve grown to love. The art matches this world perfectly, calling back to the comics of yesteryear. The issue, sadly, is it’s too big to enjoy fully. The story is good, but the amount of hopping around we have to do detracts from the plot. Darwyn Cooke created more than just a story when he made this series. He made a world where legends were born.