DC: The New Frontier Volume 2

DC New Frontier Vol 2By Darwyn Cooke (W/A) and Dave Stewart (C)

Cover Price $19.99. Published by DC Comics. Originally printed as DC: The New Frontier 4-6.

Click here for the Library of Doom entry for DC: The New Frontier Volume 1.

Plot: Against the backdrop of the 1950s, all of America’s heroes unite to challenge the greatest threat humanity has ever known.

Strengths: This is the DC Universe we all know and love. Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow and Aquaman are all present and accounted for. Even Adam Strange, Dr. Fate and the Spectre make appearances. New Frontier Volume 2 includes all the superhero action you wanted to see in Volume 1 but couldn’t because the superheroes just hadn’t come into the story yet.

If it’s even possible, Darwyn Cooke’s art is better in this volume than it was in the last. There are subtle changes in character designs from the first volume, like the shape of Batman’s cowl, which let you know that these characters and the story are moving forward in time. One thing’s for certain: you’ll never look at Wonder Woman’s invisible jet the same way.

Cooke’s writing is just as important as the art. The story starts out small, with a black superhero fighting alone against oppression in the South. From that point it grows and grows until the story quite literally becomes a struggle of epic proportions. Along the way, Cooke addresses some of the biggest issues of the day, including racism and the anti-war sentiment. Strangely enough, he even tackles the idea of superhero vigilantism vs. government registration, the major aspect of Marvel’s crossover Civil War, and does so in a manner far superior to what’s happening at the House of Ideas. The strongest aspect of Cooke’s writing, however, is his ability to capture the innocence of the time. While we as readers have grown accustomed to something like a man running at the speed of sound or a giant pterodactyl showing up out of nowhere, it’s something the characters in the story can’t even begin to comprehend. That naivety shows in the writing and it rubs off on the reader, so it’s almost as if you’re experiencing everything for the first time all over again.

One of most fun aspects of the story is the way Cooke likes to throw in Easter eggs and in-jokes to keep the more well-versed readers on their toes. Names are dropped regularly, from the fairly recognizable Ray Palmer and Will Magnus to the more obscure Rex Tyler and Nathaniel Adam. When Hal Jordan charges his ring for the first time in silence, he remarks that the act seems to warrant some sort of a “pithy” catchphrase to go along with it. And you can probably guess what happens when Hal tries to call his mechanic “Pieface.”

Weaknesses: None.

Grade: A+. New Frontier Volume 2, even read independent of the first trade, is an amazing story. While it is the second half of a larger arc, it reads as a complete story in and of itself. This should be required reading for anyone that considers themselves a fan of superhero comics. With time, DC: The New Frontier will take it’s place beside Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and Kingdom Come as one of the all-time great superhero stories.