DC: The New Frontier Vol. 1

By Darwyn Cooke
208 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

One of the things that struck me the most about DC: The New Frontier is that creator Darwyn Cooke’s entire focus is on telling a good story. It’s not wondering on how the book fits into the continuity of 1950s comics, or if the book should be an “Elseworlds”, or if there’s some sort of agenda or big event spin-off that needs to get across. To me, DC: The New Frontier felt like a book with a singular goal, and that’s to be written and drawn as best as it possibly can. It succeeds, too.

As the Cold War begins, the globe is gripped in a state of panic. Not only are there massive, world-destroying weapons in the possession of more than one country, but there are individuals who alone possess almost as much power in their own hands. Even as heroes are forced to register their identities and loyalties with the country, there’s a greater menace stirring—but will anyone be left to fight it?

There’s a bit of irony that a book titled DC: The New Frontier is in many ways exploring a sensibility of an earlier age. It’s a book where a young Hal Jordan could serve in the Korean War and get away with using non-lethal force, or where the Losers fight prehistoric monsters to not only fulfill a mission, but the needs of honor as well. It’s a more innocent book, concerning itself less with technical details and more with the general feeling and mood that it’s trying to convey. Maybe Captain Cold’s scheme being foiled really wouldn’t have made it snow over Las Vegas for several minutes, but the way that Cooke writes the scene gives a feeling of wonder and excitement and that’s what really matters to me. That’s not to say that DC: The New Frontier is solely concerned with mood and less with plot, mind you. In just this first of two volumes, Cooke’s story is already shaping up quite nicely. What seemed like harmless if fun diversions at the start of the book are already tying into the overall storyline, and as each chapter unfolds it draws the reader more into the story and the menace being hinted at around the corner.

Cooke draws DC: The New Frontier in a simple, almost classical style. Characters look iconic with their solid faces and square jaws, and it’s a very attractive look for the book. Cooke draws the book as a series of three panels stacked vertically on the page, and it’s a very effective form of storytelling. It’s almost like getting a “widescreen” look at the events of DC: The New Frontier, with Cooke packing each panel full of attention and detail not only to the foreground but to the backgrounds of every scene. There’s a lot of great stuff going on here, with little scenes like Wildcat’s hallucination when he’s been knocked out during a boxing match really coming to life because of the care in which Cooke draws it, or the beauty of Wildcat’s victory pose as the crowd applauds his efforts. This is a truly handsome book in every sense of the word.

DC: The New Frontier may remind me of an earlier time, but it’s also the perfect book for this time. It’s uncluttered with excess baggage and angst, instead cutting right to the heart of these characters and the story that Cooke wants to tell with them. I’m utterly hooked and desperately want to see the conclusion; this book is nothing short of a knockout.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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