cover image The New Frontier: Volume 2

The New Frontier: Volume 2

Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stewart, .. DC Comics, $19.99 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0461-7

The versions of the classic DC Comics heroes that baby boomers grew up reading were developed during comics' "Silver Age," from 1956 through the 1960s; after that time, superhero comics aimed at older, more jaded readers turned "grim and gritty." Writer/artist Cooke attempts to recapture the Silver Age's heroic and optimistic ideals within the more sophisticated vision of contemporary comics. His strategy is to portray DC's 1950s heroes in the context of postwar American culture. Hence, Cooke links the virtual disappearance of superheroes early in that decade to McCarthy-era witch-hunts and connects the Klan's murder of an African-American superhero to detective John Jones's fears of being exposed as an illegal alien—from Mars. Later, he successfully parallels the formation of the Justice League with President Kennedy's "New Frontier," both embodying a new idealism to cope with a dangerous world. The simple, handsome, expressive figures recall not only the work of animator Bruce Timm, but also art by such comics masters as Jack Kirby and Alex Toth. Implying in his afterword that "New Frontier" is an allegory of post-9/11 America, Cooke has stirringly laid out a promising new path for the superhero genre. (May)