Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Justice League of America
A 6-part mini-series
Dedicated To: Jack Kirby
Written and Illustrated by: Darwyn Cooke
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Valerie D’Orazio
Editor: Mark Chiarello
A Moment of Reflection
This series is all about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great challenge. Its an important message for any time, although particularly relevant and poignant in our new century where so much of what we knew and believed prior to September 11, 2001 has changed forever. We have lost our innocence, but is our new self awareness an asset or debilitating? Can we effectively harness strength from unbelievable pain? These are the very same themes explored in a series set in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Upward, Onward and Forward…
At what price freedom? America’s protectors had gone about their duty of preserving the American Way with such zeal, the price seemed to be the very freedom they vowed to defend.
How free is a nation that forces its citizens to subscribe to a governmental definition of proper thought?
Where would Americans find the spark to rekindle the spirit that had created the world’s first free nation?
As is often the case, it would take an external threat of catastrophic proportions to wipe secular interests off the table and strip existence of its essence.
America belonged to them, and if they didn’t take her spirit back into their collective heart… she would not survive. – from the inside cover.
Setting the Table… On The Moon
It all comes to a head in this action-packed issue as Darwyn Cooke concludes his Silver Age-inspired opus DC: The New Frontier in an explosive finale!
The book opens with the Spectre and Dr. Fate traveling to the Moon to enlist the aid of DC’s powerful magicians and occultists to tackle the major threat faced on Earth – referred to as the Centre. However, the Phantom Stranger, the scantily glad lady conjurer Zatanna, and a remarkably Solomon-wise boy named Billy Batson, of Shazam / Captain Marvel infamy, feel that its time for DC’s next generation of heroes to come into its own:
“Mankind needs a new road to travel, carved by the heroes of tomorrow. If the Centre is to be defeated, it will be by these new heroes.”
Chapter Fifteen: Shall Earth Endure?
Lois Lane, ace journalist for the Daily Star, is grappling with the stunning defeat and seeming demise of “America’s Greatest Champion, the mighty Superman” from the last issue.
In Gotham City, Batman‘s alter ego Bruce, head of Wayne Enterprises, commits what it can from planes to parts to help Earth’s heroes in the South Atlantic tackle the massive threat of the Centre.
Also, the worlds-traversing hero Adam Strange finally convinces the Arkham Asylum staff that he isn’t crazy and departs to enlist the aid of Ray Palmer and his cutting edge, but unstable shrinking technology. In the future, beyond this series, once that technology is refined Ray will become Earth’s shrinking hero the Atom, but for now the flawed nature of his technology may prove to be the key to defeating the Centre!
Hal Jordan, Earth’s new Green Lantern, uses his powerful ring to fix and power his damages spacecraft so that he too can join Earth’s forces in the South Atlantic.
Chapter Sixteen: The Dawn Patrol
Doc Magnus, of Metal Men fame and the Challengers of the Unknown rally the human and super-human troops. Their plan is to aerial assault the Centre by having some of Earth’s greatest fly boy pilots drop a nuclear payload within it and have the Black Hawks attack from the outside.
Larry Trainor (who will later become Negative Man of the Doom Patrol), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Nathaniel Adam (later to be known as Captain Atom) Ace Morgan, and Hal Jordan are the fly boys tasked with destroying the Centre from within.
Free from the mental grasp of the Centre, a newly-coherent Martian Manhunter rages against the beasts as he realizes what and who his freedom cost!
The rest of this chapter? Its a mega-battle as all of Earth’s able-bodied heroes, super-powered and otherwise, engage the hordes of beasts emanating from the Centre and provide cover for the dangerous mission of the fly boy fleet.
Chapter Seventeen: The Pure Rugged
Within the belly of the beast, the surviving three fly boys (you’ll have to read the issue to figure out, um, Who’s Who) weaken the Centre. But, at what cost?
The crippled threat and its horde of defenders are now subjected to Phase II of the plan – the hands (and feet) of Earth’s new super-speedster the Flash and Ray Palmer’s flawed technology.
Why does all hope rest with one new hero and some flawed technology?
Will it be the difference maker?
Who will live?
Who will die?
And, where is Superman?
You’ll have to read this issue to find out!
Epilogue: The New Frontier
Since this part of DC: The New Frontier is called Justice League of America could an appearance of the JLA be far behind?
I won’t spoil the ending of this great series, but I will quote from this last chapter:
…The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won — and we stand today on the edge of the New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960’s — a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils — a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.
The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises — it is a set of challenges…
… Are we up to the task — are we equal to the challenge? Or must we sacrifice our future in order to enjoy the present?
That is the question of the New Frontier…
All mankind waits upon our decision…
Silver Age Excellence!
I’m amazed at the amount of research that Cooke has done on this series. Not only in terms of comics history, but “real” history including speech quotes from U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
The whole concept of this series was to answer the question that what if there was no Earth 1 or 2 and no Crisis on Infinite Earths and the like. What if the Golden Age in the DCU truly spawned a Silver Age on that same world? That would relegate (perhaps that’s the wrong word) Batman and Superman as Golden Age heroes and allow others to “fill in their (archetypal) spots”, so-to-speak.
It also incorporated properties that DC had picked up over time from Fawcett Comics, Charlton and others firmly in this new “continuity”.
This leaves characters that were created in the Golden Age in that time chronologically and doesn’t reinterpret them for the Silver Age. The characters from that time are older in this new age and interact with the newbies of the New Frontier.
This allows Cooke to give more screen time to the heroes that actually came onto DC’s comics’ radar in the Silver Age: Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and others.
This mini-series also served as a way to link those non-brightly garbed, but more human “heroes” that came onto the scene prior to the dawn of the flashy “super-heroics” of the Silver Age like: Suicide Squad (Task Force X), the Challengers of the Unknown and others.
I feel that DC: The New Frontier is a faithful steward of the spirit of the Silver Age and is a great extension of James Robinson’s the Golden Age.
Maybe we’ll have a Bronze Age -type series in the near future. Although, the 2 most exciting periods in (DC) Comics have already been covered in James Robinson’s the Golden Age and Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier.
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