Breaking New Ground
Tripwire continues its daily recommendation of 100 graphic novels people should read while stuck inside with DC’s DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke, reviewed by its editor-in-chief Joel Meadows…
DC The New Frontier
Writer/artist: Darwyn Cooke
Colours: Dave Stewart
The death of Darwyn Cooke in 2016 cut short the life of a true visionary and modern comics is poorer with his absence.
Originally published back in 2004, the late Darwyn Cooke’s affectionate love letter to DC’s most iconic superheroes and superheroines was a revelation when it was first published.
Then DC republished it as a chunky 520-page lavish hardcover, which is now available in trade paperback. You can still get the hardcover, but be prepared to pay a lot for it.
Cooke put DC heroes like Green Lantern, The Flash, Superman, Martian Manhunter and Batman in a real-world historical context, placing them in factual conflicts like the Korean War and alongside historical figures like Eisenhower and the racism of 1950s America, allowing him to distill the era’s Cold War paranoia via the treatment of Martian Manhunter.
Cooke’s art is classically elegant while staying contemporary and fresh at the same time. Cooke’s ambitious intention was to refract the history of the DC universe through the prism of real-world history, and sometimes his reach exceeded his grasp, but this still holds up as an innovative and enjoyable distillation of Cooke’s obvious love for classic comics. Visually, it feels classical yet very modern at the same time and Cooke shows off his exceptional storytelling and page composition. It really feels like the work of a single creator, operating at the peak of his powers. The colour work of Dave Stewart, best known for his Hellboy collaborations, is a perfect foil for Cooke’s vibrant lines.
The book also includes the one-shot that accompanied the New Frontier animated special, which acts as a rather nice postscript to the series, and the various covers and promotional art for the project. It’s a hefty tome but if you’ve never read The New Frontier before, it is a must-get for aficionados of American superhero comics with a rare streak of intelligence and nostalgic cool running through it.
Cooke was a great writer and incredibly talented artist, and this series holds up just as well as it did when it was first published fifteen years ago. He was taken far too early from us but DC The New Frontier is an exceptional piece of work, a true love letter to the form and the characters that we all adore.
DC: The New Frontier is out now from DC.
Here’s a link to the first six of our 100 GNs too