Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The New Frontier - do we really need to explore this all again?

Okay, so I'm reading a lot of books from years ago that people really liked.  So sue me, I've been busy.

I’m really torn on this one. On the one hand, I pretty much love anything that Darwyn Cooke does; on the other hand I think I’ve hit critical mass of exploring the DC Universe.  I've got to accept my crotchity-old-manness here and just shake my cane at the fools not doing things exactly how I want them.

Here’s the thing though, I wish that the world Darwyn Cooke created for The New Frontier was simply the DC Universe. I like what he’s done and the tension between the super-heroes and the rest of the population in the setting he’s made. A slightly tweaked DC universe that lets all the heroes be heroes without the faux gravitas handled clumsily in so many of today’s superhero comics.

They’re heroes because that’s what they should be doing. Sure there is tension and all the tropes found in the genre, but at its core this is yet another hopeful book that writes over the past to create a retro-future. Sure there’s some rose coloured glasses that are used to view the past, but it makes heroes for today by giving them a past I can identify with and enjoy. Yes, the quirks and social norms of the past can be used to great affect but when the goal is to make a bright and shiney superhero yarn then cleaning up things is fine by me.

It’s sort of a non-problem when what I want is more of what is hinted at and glanced at to tell the story. Each little vignette that tells the larger plot is a world I want to see more of, and it kind of annoys me that the only chance there is to get these stories are in stand-alone stories. I guess this is sort of a rail against the medium type of critique which I didn’t intend since I pretty much love the comic. I guess I just don’t want to be limited to only getting heroic stories that are yet another exploration of one creator’s version of the DC universe. It should just be done in the regular books (in any superhero book at any company).

That’s the rub. This proves that bright, positive comics are extremely well received so why don’t we see more? They aren’t light on conflict, tension or even relevant social issues. They can explore themes, story ideas and even go along the superhero tropes as well, if not better, than yet another grim, everything changes plotline.

These are stories where adventure reigns and the adventurers simply do what needs to be done - some dealing with personal issues, self-doubt, political pressure, or whatever.  In the end, they're all heroic which is what the focus should be, rather than the woe-is-me hand wringing followed by "hey! look, something shocking!" It only works when it's not the norm, which is, I guess, why The New Frontier works so well for me.  It's the diamond in the rough.

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