Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sometimes a fresh start helps

The other day, my buddy Matt and I were discussing various graphic novels we liked. Had he read Ultimates 2? Yes. Had I read Ex Machina? No, but I will. After touching on the likes of From Hell and Powers, he asked if I had read the New Frontier. When I said I started it, but put it down, he looked at me as if he never really knew me.

After that, I had to go back and try again, which I did yesterday. After the kids went to sleep I picked up the Absolute Edition of The New Frontier at the library. I then sat on the couch and read it cover to cover. I suppose the oddly angular 50s style of the art initially put me off, but once I tried again I loved it.

The story is about the genesis of the Justice League of America in the late 50s. The story includes the fall of prior heroes, McCarthyite persecution of super heroes, Superman and Wonder Man in Vietnam (shades of the Watchmen there,) the rise of John Henry to fight the KKK, secret government projects and much, much more. There are references aplenty, many of which are described in the notes to the Absolute Edition.

This one has something for everyone. Starting at the tail end of World War 2 and extending to the election of President Kennedy, the story paints a complex picture of life in the 50s; it brings in a huge number of characters; it has huge action scenes as well as interesting character development. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman serve as story elements for the likes of the Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern, two characters who are central to the story.

If you can find it, read the Absolute Edition, otherwise the story is collected in two paperbacks.

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