Current Reviews


DC:The New Frontier: Book Three

Posted: Monday, March 22, 2004
By: Ray Tate

"The Brave and the Bold"

Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stewart(c)
Publisher: DC

Easily the weakest issue thus far of Darwyn Cooke's DC:The New Frontier, the third book still offers some fun in the depiction of a vital piece of the overall theme to be uncovered in future issues. You may however wish to read the important part at the end of the tale in your comic book shop--that is if you have a patient vendor.

The fun and important part of the story derives from the interaction of Bat-Man and the Martian Manhunter. Cooke's depiction and writing of Bat-Man is pure nostalgic bliss. His sharp intellect is the only thing that shines through his stealthy, svelte look.

Unrelated but establishing what many already knew, that even if DC forgot to label the book properly DC:The New Frontier is in fact an elseworlds series, Cooke takes a modern day hero and re-incorporates him into the past. Cooke once again uses real history within this character's new origin.

The Ku Klux Klan resurged in power during the late fifties and early sixties. For DC:The New Frontier the evil of the murderous misspellers catalyzes the birth of an antiqued fan favorite hero. Cooke impressively re-imagines this character. The appearance belies the paucity of description: a black man wielding traditional African-American folklore weapons and disguised by a black hood. Cooke divests this character of his scifi elements because this would make him seem weak when compared to the slack-witted Klansmen. All this man needs is the drive to win and a few weapons of his own to balance the odds. The re-imagining works beautifully and fits in the context of the second rise of the Mystery Men.

The first wave of Mystery Men was as we learned in previous issues combatted by scum like Rick Flagg and King Faraday. Unfortunately, it is Flagg and his Task Force X(The Suicide Squad) that occupy the majority of the book. Because Flagg is a villain and Task Force X are patsies, I find it difficult to care about them. There is some amusement to be found though in Hal Jordan recognizing Rick Flagg as a nut job; Hal refers to him as a "Section Eight." Flagg and Task Force X simply lack the power of imagery and origin enveloping super-heroes. No matter how hard Cooke tries, he cannot add depth to these non-powered players and their certifiable commandant. Compare them to Doc Savage and the Amazing Five, and they pale in that comparison.

Flagg's brother in mania King Faraday provides a history lesson that bores Hal, but worse it bores as well the reader. We honestly did not need to know about Project Paperclip and the splitting of the purely fictional organization of Suicide Squad and Argent from the CIA.

More extraneous information comes from the form of the Challengers of the Unknown. I suppose it is possible that some readers are unaware of the Challengers' origin and background. That origin however has been summarized in one or two panels for three generations of pre-Crisis and post-Crisis readers at one time or another. Nobody denies that Cooke is a great dramatic artist, but the expansion of the Challengers' origin from two panels to about ten pages is simply unnecessary.

The third issue of DC:The New Frontier is the most padded and dull issue. While there are costumed moments that elevate the story, Cooke here mostly deals with Rick Flagg, a sociopath who deserves to be sidelined, rather than the center of attention. While all of the book is a stunning example of Cooke's artistic sensibilities, given the expense of the story, this issue can be left on the shelf with little impact on further reading.

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