Harry discovers JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER!!!
Published at: Feb. 2, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST by headgeek
I honestly believe I have just seen my favorite film of 2008. There will, no doubt, be folks that think I’m utterly bonkers – but having just seen JUSTICE LEAGUE – THE NEW FRONTIER – I’m in awe.
This is everything I had hoped for.
THE NEW FRONTIER by Darwyn Cooke is one of my favorite comics ever. It completely takes place in the moments leading up to the birth of the Silver Age of comics – which, although I should be too young – was my introduction to comics. I was raised by a pair of parents which owned Austin’s first Comic Book Shop… when they retired from the business – they took the 100,000 plus issues (all pre-1976) to our Victorian house – and as a young boy who voraciously read anything and everything – The Silver Age called out to me.
The Heroes were clear cut, the costumes and the mythologies were perfect for my wide-eyed imagination. We had near complete runs with massive duplication of basically ALL titles. And I’d spend hours reading… Marvel, DC, Atlas, you name it – I was in there absorbing it all like a sponge. Dinosaur Island, Challengers of the Unknown, the military and cowboy heroes, the Showcases and the Brave & The Bolds… Metal Men, Metamorpho… and all the mainstream stuff… I loved it.
I was an odd kid – most of my friends didn’t know what I was talking about – as I was coming at the heroes they knew from a past they never had access to, so my house became the stomping grounds for a group of friends that devoured all of this. I told them stories from the heart of the Silver Age – and we dreamt about how cool that’d be.
At the same time, we were all addicts to THE SUPERFRIENDS – but damn… the comics were so much better.
When Darwyn Cooke wrote THE NEW FRONTIER… I was unaware. I don’t hit the comic stands much these days. I read the @$$HOLE$ and pick up some of their recommendations… but I had to have missed any mention of THE NEW FRONTIER… til one day I walked into AUSTIN BOOKS here in town and saw the toys. The designs instantly resulted in me buying the entire set. Then at the counter I asked… “What is this NEW FRONTIER?” and the Comic Book Man came out from behind the counter and led me to the issues and I grabbed them and added them to the pile.
That night as I poured through the story of THE NEW FRONTIER – I was transformed… My adult mind was intact, but my soul was that of childhood wonder. My grown mind appreciated the deft story-telling, while the kid in me just gawked at how all my favorite characters – who had never seen one another before – were a part of the same universe – and how this one story affected the origins and meetings of them.
When I heard this was being adapted into an animated film by the Warner Animation folks… I dared to dream that maybe we’d get to genuinely see a great animated adaptation of a truly great comic. It has long been a dream to see a great comic story animated great and told with the love in which it was created.
Folks… the absolute best comic film has been accomplished. THE NEW FRONTIER is everything I hoped for. There are missing pieces from the comic – mainly due to a need to economize the story given the time constraints of animated stories. However, everything lost is alluded to or acknowledged by broadcasts, newspaper headlines and dialogue. Yes, I would have loved to have had lengthy combat on Dinosaur Island, to have a long time with the Challengers of the Unknown and well… the point is, Darwyn Cooke adapted his original comic with Stan Berkowitz and the result is stunning.
It is an accomplished, serious and adult adaptation that keeps every ounce of the original story’s brilliance. What we have here is a serious adult superhero story straight out of the Silver Age, but with the weight of the best of modern age storytelling.
The actual animation is nothing short of breathtaking. Everything is magnificently detailed and drawn. The character designs are stunning – SUPERMAN hasn’t looked this good since the days of the Fleischers. And dude… fucking Hal Jordan… I can’t believe it. To see Hal get the ring, When you see how he finally transforms into Green Lantern… you’re gonna squeal.
For those of you that know nothing about the story of THE NEW FRONTIER. The story takes place in-between the end of America’s Involvement in the Korean War – to about 6 months ahead of Sputnik. America is a strange place – loyalty oaths, Superhero’s forced to swear loyalty to America – or face being tracked down by the government. The Red Scare is in full swing, yet there’s a change in the wind. Kennedy is coming – and a new era of Superheroes are taking form… characters like The Flash and the Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern.
The bad guy?
Well – this isn’t your typical bad guy. And folks that are not fans of great big abstract evil since the dawn of creation entities the size of a significant island beings… well, you’re likely to be a little lost when it appears. However, if you love Silver Age JUSTICE LEAGUE comics when the villains were typically things much larger and much more bizarre than the typical super-villain of the week. This is something that Superman can’t deal with on his own. No one hero can deal with this. This is the sort of HOLY FUCK, WHAT IS THAT thing!?
The voice work is exceptional throughout. You’ve got David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan, Jeremy Sisto as Batman, Neil Patrick Harris as Flash, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, Miguel Ferrer as J’onn J’onzz (John Jones in the credits… ahem) – and Keith David as the voice of The Center.
Lastly – I have to say the score by Kevin Manthei is absolutely top notch. I’m not really familiar with his previous work – but given his work here – and the preview for BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT that’s on this DVD – I’m sure I’ll be hearing a lot from this fella in the future. By the way – the GOTHAM KNIGHT DVD feature looks amazing – the different Anime styles really are amazing looking to see Batman existing in. But by far – I’m more interested in just rewatching NEW FRONTIER.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER will become beloved amongst animation lovers, comic book fans and even novices. Today when I got this, I invited Massawyrm over for a peek – since the film doesn’t hit till March 14th – plus I knew he knew nothing about this – and hardly anything about the Silver Age – and I wanted to see how it played to him. His jaw was on the floor. He was completely flabbergasted and left my house to go to the late night comic store to see about picking up the trade paperbacks to explore more of this NEW FRONTIER.
Now excuse me, I have to rewatch this approximately 7 million more times.