Graphic Novel/Comics Review

DC: The New Frontier vol.1

(2005) Darwyn Cooke, Titan Books, 15.99, trdpbk, 208pp, ISBN 1-84023-939-5

This is the most wonderful, improbable title of recent memory. Between the Golden Age (typified by the heroes of the Justice Society of America) and the Silver Age (the JLA and onwards) are serious lacunae. Was there nothing happening in the universe, apart from World War II that is? This is Cooke's take on what was going on. The 'mystery men' of the Golden Age have been outlawed and only Superman and Wonder Woman are operating under government sanction, and Batman, of course, who does his own thing (slightly reminiscent of Dark Knight). Not that everything's rosy between the sanctioned pair - one of the best scenes in the book involves Wonder Woman giving Supes a telling off in Cambodia that celebrates WW's warrior status and points up the hypocrisy of the US. Meanwhile, Lois Lane's getting stuck in to South Korea, the Martian Manhunter is drawn to Earth, Hal Jordan's just getting employed by Ferris Aircraft while dreaming of becoming an astronaut, Barry Allen gets hit by lightning, and the Challengers of the Unknown meet and survive a plane crash. Something big is going to happen, but you'll have to wait for volume 2 (due June 2005) to find out what. The artwork may turn some off, but I think it works, and it's sympathetically coloured by Dave Stewart. The script, though, is faultless with loads happening without seeming rushed, but with plenty more time for excellent characterisations, and intelligent and witty dialogue. All this against a familiar 'real world' backdrop, including McCarthyism, JFK and the Space Race. I can't wait for more of this...

Tony Chester

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