Fresh Looks at Classics
One of the things that I am jealous to hear is when a friend tells me he/she hasn’t read a classic comic book. I am jealous because they get to experience these classics for the FIRST time, which I won’t get to do anymore. It got me thinking that perhaps it would be neat to hear from some of these folks, to hear a fresh look at comic classics.
Here’s the first one, courtesy of my pal, Sean, who just recently read Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier for the first time.
So some of you may have heard about this little comic called New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. In short, it’s a run down of DC’s Silver Age history. For someone like me, who has by and large been mostly a Marvel fan, and only got into comics in the early 90s, New Frontier serves as an excellent introduction to many of the classic, iconic versions of the DC heroes.
To start off with, let’s look at J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. My basic knowledge of the character consisted of the fact that he was from Mars (obviously), was green (also obviously), and for some reason was afraid of fire. Getting to see his origin, how he came to Earth and struggled to find his niche, has fleshed out his character immensely. His decision to become a police detective serves to strengthen the overall theme of true heroism that builds throughout the entire series. Favorite scene: J’onn watching TV and changing into the various images onscreen, particularly Bugs Bunny.
Another of the characters is the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash. Again, I’m not too familiar with him. He can run fast and wears red. That’s about it. Reading New Frontier, I now feel I have a better grasp of his motivations. Barry seems to be the more family oriented of the heroes. Iris is his love and inspiration, and it is for her that he puts on the suit. His sense of heroism stems from his need to protect the one he loves, which is perhaps the greatest motivation of all. Favorite scenes: snow in the desert, punching out King Faraday.
There are also the various human characters throughout the story. The Losers, the Challengers of the Unknown, The Blackhawks. While I’m familiar with the current incarnations of these groups, their past iterations were a mystery to me. The entire opening portion of the book is dedicated solely to the Losers, and tells their entire tale. There is not much that is more heroic than a group of men performing their duty knowing full well that they will more than likely not return. Favorite scenes: John Cloud jumping into the mouth of a T-Rex,m when the Challengers all first meet up.
Ultimately, however, I’d say the main character of the series is Hal Jordan. Not the Hal Jordan the Green Lantern, even though he is one, by Hal Jordan the man. My Green Lantern knowledge was limited to knowing he had a ring and was afraid of the color yellow. By reading New Frontier, I’ve come to learn that Hal Jordan’s origin wasn’t being given the ring by the alien. Hal Jordan’s character is forged through the entire series. He is a hero long before obtaining the ring. I would even go as far as to say that he is the epitome of heroism. Of all the characters, he is also the most human. Hal is a hero for no reason other than it is the right thing to do. Favorite scenes: kissing Carol Ferris goodbye, flying for the first time, flinging the Centre out into space.
New Frontier was a fantastic read. The themes, character arcs, artwork, basically everything involved is absolutely phenomenal. But what it really boils down to, is fun. In a time where the average superhero comic is trying to shock and awe with its realism, New Frontier comes along and kicks all of that to the curb, focusing on the pure joy of heroes. It expertly captures that inner magic from our childhood when we first read about these characters.