DC: The New Frontier #1 Review

Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Our Fighting Forces

Dedicated to: Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, Harvey Kurtzman and Alex Toth

Written and Illustrated by: Darwyn Cooke
Colored by: Dave Stewart
Lettered by: Jared Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Valerie D’Orazio
Editor: Mark Chiarello
Publisher: DC

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our little corner at 411 that I am a big fan of comics’ yesteryear. Near Mint Memories, a column I co-author with Chris Delloiacono, allows me to indulge and sift through the gold mine of comics’ history and look at its influence on our contemporary reads.

With that said, its probably easy to make the leap of logic and figure out that I have been eagerly awaiting DC: The New Frontier since I first heard about it many moons ago. Damn, I hate being so predictable!

In all seriousness, this tale is likely the closest we’ll see to a sequel to James Robinson’s Golden Age for some time. A sequel titled Silver Age has been rumored for years, but, sadly, never materialized. DC: New Frontier may not be Robinson’s rumored project, but it is its philosophical twin.

The first book of this six-issue mini-series chronicles the transition from DC’s Golden Age to its Silver Age had their only been one earth — leaving the golden roots of Superman, Bat-man, and Wonder Woman firmly in the 1930’s.

While I have been eagerly awaiting this mini-series, I initially wasn’t pleased at the price. At $6.95 U.S. or $10.75 Canadian it is a pricey read. However, once I started reading, my concerns were allayed — this is a meaty 60-plus page read with no advertisements. It’s all story!

Darwyn Cooke also adopts the storytelling format of yesteryear by dividing the book into three chapters.

The first chapter follows DC’s military Losers team, in 1945, when they are tasked to retrieve Rick Flagg (of Task Force X and Suicide Squad fame) and the Axis scientist that his own military team was sent to recover. Dinosaurs, duty and death mark this truly poignant tale nods at DC’s fine tradition of military comic books.

This chapter ends on a more fun and optimistic note with a story chronicling the first meeting of a wide-eyed boy named Hal Jordan and his hero-pilot in 1948.

The second chapter chronicles the end of DC’s mystery-men in 1952 with the death of a Golden Age hero, and a really nice bonus article “written” by Iris West, destined to be the wife of the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) and Aunt of DC’s current Flash (Wallace West). West’s article ties up the “loose ends” of the Golden Age and leads too…

The third chapter and the end of the Korean War in 1953. A now adult Hal Jordan faces almost certain death if not for the heroics of fellow flyboy Ace Morgan (of Challengers of the Unknown fame). Readers also encounter war correspondent Lois Lane and her teenaged photographer Jimmy Olsen.

This issue is really a compilation of many touching human stories. It’s not about brightly-garbed “heroes” in long-underwear. It’s a book that weaves together the tapestries of the Golden and Silver Ages of DC Comics and, I think, thrusts upon Hal Jordan the father ship of the Silver Age, from Barry Allen — whose first appearance as the Silver Age Flash in 1956’s Showcase #4 actually ushered in the Silver Age of Comics. As many may know, Hal Jordan is destined to become the Silver Age’s Green Lantern, following in the footsteps of his Golden Age predecessor Allan Scott.

Is DC: The New Frontier a great read? I think it is. It doesn’t require you to know DC history, but if you do you’ll appreciate all the research and work that is crammed into this issue.

Cooke’s writing is touching, and not your traditional super-hero fare — for this issue of the mini-series anyway. His art meshes well with the type of moving story that he is starting to tell.

This issue is well worth the price of admission.