Holiday Gift Bag: The New Frontier

Prepare for the shock of your life — Christmas is only a month away! Hully chee! Time to panic and run around wildly, jabbering nonsensically and purchasing stuff like underwear and bow ties and vitamins for stocking stuffers. Now hold it, hold it, you can solve many of your holiday gift-giving needs… with comics! So I’ll spend a little time over the next month passing along some tips for some gifts you can get for the comics-loving person on your shopping list.

Let’s start with a new favorite that looks likely to become a classic:


DC: The New Frontier

This series was published by DC in 2003 and 2004, and was written and illustrated by a guy named Darwyn Cooke. The story is set, for the most part, in the late 1950s. It stars a huge array of DC characters, from Superman and Wonder Woman to the Flash and the Challengers of the Unknown, but the central character is definitely Hal Jordan, who starts out, not as the superhero Green Lantern, but as the only pacifist fighter pilot in the Korean War. The general plot, without dropping too many spoilers: We follow the emergence of a new generation of heroes as we slowly become aware of a growing alien plot against the earth.

There is a lot of cool stuff in this series. The whole thing opens with an incredibly cool, incredibly cinematic sequence with a quartet of soldiers facing off against dinosaurs during World War II. Everything set in Las Vegas is cool, including the boxing match and the fight between the Flash and Captain Cold. And the book also has one of the coolest characterizations of Wonder Woman around, gorgeous and curvy, sure, but also absolutely hardcore, and tough enough to stand up to Superman and tell him to take a walk.


You’ve noticed that artwork by now, haven’t ya? Beautiful stuff. Cartoony, but also like something out of a pulp magazine. There are also some animation influences in there, too. Superman looks a lot like he did in the Fleischer cartoons back in the ’40s, and just about everything else is filtered through the animation styles of more recent cartoons like “Justice League Unlimited” and “Batman: The Animated Series.” Yeah, it’s simple, clear artwork, but there’s something more complex going on there, too. It’s great for emotion, great for characterization, great for evoking the spirit and styles of the ’50s. It’s absolutely outstanding for action and motion, too.


You can pick up “DC: The New Frontier” as a two-volume collection for about twenty bucks apiece. You can also get what they call the “Absolute New Frontier,” which is oversized, comes in a nice slipcase, and has a bunch of other extras. That one will set you back about 75 bones. You may not want to get this for a kid — though the art has a retro, cartoony feel, numerous people die, and there is some cussin’ in it.


Go pick it up.

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