By Darwin Cooke (art & story), J. Bone (art), David Bullock (pencils), Micahel Cho (inks), Dave Stewart (colors)
Coinciding (a week later), with the release of New Frontier on DVD is this special one-shot by Darwin Cooke. Like his previous mini-series, this book perfectly encapsulates the time and imagination of the early Silver Age. The issue is a 48 page behemoth, divided into three self-contained stories, plus a small section at the end devoted to the art of the New Frontier animated movie.
The first story is the centerpiece. It deals with Superman’s loyalty to what the President of the United States refers to as “the greater good”. The President considers Batman a threat to the country, stating that a vigilante kept unchecked, no matter how righteous his intentions, is still unlawful. He tasks Superman and Wonder Woman to bring Batman in, thinking that once Batman is out of the way, other similar vigilantes will turn themselves in.
Diana instantly opts out. She knows that Batman would rather die than give up his convictions and she gives a stern warning to Clark about this. But when the President calls upon Clark, giving him a direct order to bring Batman in, he complies and heads to Gotham City. Batman, already ahead of the game, has prepared an elaborate trap to capture and en-prison Superman. Once the game is afoot, Superman falls into this trap, hook, line, and sinker.
My initial reaction to this was a lot of eye-rolling. How many times have we seen this story? How many times have writers hammered into our brains that Batman will always outwit Superman? For once, I’d like to see Superman beat the crap out of Batman. Well, as it turns out, Superman finally catches on that he’s being baited and refuses to let Batman win.
Superman eventually gets his hands around Batman’s throat, but Wonder Woman shows up to stop the fight. Realizing that they have to work together and form a bond of trust, Bruce Wayne extends the first olive branch to Clark, revealing his secret identity! I can’t begin to tell you what a brilliant moment of humility this is on Bruce’s part. What plays out from here on marks the beginning of the “trinity”. This story is so cinematic in being drawn and narrated so well, I could actually see it playing out as a movie. Good stuff.
The next two stories are written by Darwin Cooke and drawn by other artists. One story is about a solo Robin and how he first meets Kid Flash. It’s a teenage tale about kids trying to prove they can be just as good as adults. It also serves as a precursor of sorts to the Teen Titans, which is unexpected and a nice touch. The final story has Wonder Woman being repulsed by the chauvinistic nature of men and doing something about it. Going undercover with Dinah, she infiltrates a “men’s club” and initiates a series of hi-jinx that don’t go as planned. This story (and art) is easily the weakest of the three, but Dinah’s sarcasm does a nice job off-setting Wonder Woman’s snottiness.
If you loved New Frontier, picking up this follow-up is a no-brainer and worthy edition to your collection. For everyone else, I realize $4.99 is a bit on the high side, but for a one-shot like this, it’s worth the price. Check it out! (Grade: B+)
– J. Montes