New Frontier : The Film - The Graphic Novel
In the aftermath of the Korean War, the world has become a very strange place to live in. McCarthyism has reared its ugly head, prompting all the heroes in the world to start acting in a very unorthodox way. Superman is a pawn for the government. Wonder Woman is the leader of a bunch of female Korean rebels. Batman is an outlaw. Hal Jordan takes a job at Ferris Aircraft. And a martian is transported to earth by scientist, Saul Erdel.
Thankfully, The Flash remains relatively the same. Battling crooks in that rapid way of his, until Captain Cold, seemingly possessed by outside forces, utters a name during a robbery – 'the center'.
But what is 'the center'? No one appears to know. Not even the Martian (now in the humanoid guise of John Jones, and working in the police department), whilst breaking up a cult with Batman, and hears this name called out by the leader before he commits suicide.
Very strange that, huh? Just as strange as when John questions a former employee of Ferris Aircraft, Harry Leiter, who also mentions this name during interrogation. Plus a secret plan devised by the government for a rocket to be flown to Mars.
Yes. That is right. Mars. John's home planet. And something to do with government official, Max Faraday, when he takes Harry away with him, before he can say anything more to John.
So what does John do about this? Well, he follows Max - tries to hitch a ride on the rocket before it takes off - and then gets captured by Max and the army whilst doing so.
Oh! Poor Martian. Unlike pilot, Hal Jordan, who is the brave chap who drives this rocket deep into outer-space before it blows up in reentry. But don't worry though. Superman saves him from snuffing it in space, and take's him back to Earth again, safe and sound.
OK, when I say 'safe and sound', what I really mean by this, is that Hal appears to be in the right place at the right time for a dying alien, called Abin Sur, to crash land on Earth, and give him a green colored ring and lantern to fight back against what eventually kills him.
Yep. That name again. One associated with an entity that that is able to beat up Superman and Wonder Woman so badly, that the rest of the heroes have to devise a plan to defeat this fiend as one. Well, that is why what next transpires is a right climactic battle I can tell you. As people unite - one and all do fight - speed runs through the harsh weather - and a team finally comes together.
This animated feature was based on a four issue mini-series devised by Darwin Cooke entitled 'DC - The New Frontier', not 'Justice League - The New Frontier'. Originally this book acted as a sequel to James Robinson’s golden age homage, called, surprise-surprise, 'the Golden Age'. In which the Justice Society of America and their allies beat the living ka-ka out of a super powered Adolph Hitler and his cronies. Obviously Darwin took a leaf out of Frank Millers book on his sequel, and overlaid his story in the fifties and sixties era of superheroes, setting their encounter in a time in which all of these heroes where going through a transitional period with their respective 'careers'.
Here, let me explain a bit more about this 'shared history' in bullet point form: (1) In 1954, German-American psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, published a book called 'Seduction of the Innocent', which warned the public that all comic books were damaging their children's minds. (2) In retaliation to this 'book', the comic book code authority was set up, curbing what type of things publishers were allowed to publish. (3) Now this effected DC Comics [plus a quite few other publishers as well] in a number of different ways. Some titles were cancelled. Batman became more kiddie friendly. Superman became more of an ideal than a hero. And by in large, DC had to rethink their line again, thus inadvertently triggering off the 'Silver Age' of heroes. (4) The end result of all of this, is that quite a few 'new' comic books were hindered to be as creative that they wanted to be. Stories became benign and silly. Art became pastoral and quaint. And all in all comic books were hindered in being able to entertain in the way the publishers would have like them to. Until the early seventies.
Listen, I could go on, but I won’t. This review is about the animated-adaption of this history slanted mini-series, and not about the mini-series or history in itself. Therefore, the question has to be asked - is this movie a good adaptation or not?
Yes. But with a couple of no’s thrown in for good measure.
You see, like most adaptations, certain plot threads and characters from the source material had to be exorcised, just to make the overall narrative more conscience and fit into the allotted time-frame allowed. This, in my opinion, is the only draw back in this film really. Because the majority of this project does capture the basic essence that Darwin Cooke wanted to convey – about the troubled superheroes fighting their way out of the aftermath of the Korean War, whilst coping with the technological advancements which will lie ahead of them.
The art on this project does deserve a notable mention as well - giving the hint of Darwin's style, which inadvertently reminds me of a mixture of Dick Sprang and Will Eisner. Plus, the voice acting on this project is of a very high standard too - with Kyle, Jeremy, Lucy, Neil, and Brooke, having that modern yet alternate tone to their timbre.
Overall, I found 'Justice League - The New Frontier' to be a really enjoyable movie. It had pathos. It had plot. Plus it had plenty of action too. Not too much to make it a slug fest, though. Agreed Darwin?
THE RATING: A-