To Honor Darwyn Cooke

Cancer steals those we love on an alarmingly regular basis.  Some of those victims we love because they are friends or family; others we love because we admire their artistic ingenuity.

Reports are breaking that we lost one such artist this morning – Darwyn Cooke.  He was only 53.

If you’re unfamiliar with Darwyn Cooke, he was a luminary amidst the very best in the comic book industry.  They say simplicity is genius, and Cooke exemplified such philosophy.  A master of sequential art, Cooke’s drawings are clean, simple, fluid, and dynamic.  Cooke utilized a style that some would define as “retro,” yet he also incorporated a modern flare that made each and every one of his works both unique and inspired.

Those drawing methods that earned him fans throughout the medium also proved useful in his writing.  Cooke kept his stories direct, on point, and fun.  He knew what made the characters great, and he knew how to amplify those characteristics to make them feel simultaneously familiar and fresh.

In fact, I believe Cooke endeared himself to so many because he was an excellent caretaker of the characters we love.  His Superman is THE Superman.  His Wonder Woman is THE Wonder Woman.  His Batman is THE Batman.  These icons will likely outlive us all, and for many, they are constants throughout life.  They must be treated with respect, but they also must be reinvigorated through the efforts of special talent.  Cooke managed to hold true to what time cannot erase in regards to these characters while stamping them with his own individual interpretation.  As fans, we recognized that Cooke could be trusted with these heroes we hold so dear – that they would indeed flourish through his pen and paper.

It is my sincerest hope that this writing will motivate you to go read something by Darwyn Cooke.  I think the greatest honor we can offer is to experience and acknowledge his craft.  You can find a comprehensive list of his available work HERE.  Of course, as will so many others, I recommend you procure DC: The New Frontier.  I believe it to be his masterpiece.

Darwyn Cooke shall be missed.

DC: The New Frontier, Volumes I and II – A Graphic Novel Review

Note: This review refers to DC: The New Frontier Volumes I and II.

If you are a DC fan-I mean a hard core, DC or bust fan-you will love, and I mean LOVE DC: The New Frontier Volumes I and II.

I remember seeing the first issue of this series when it came out in single-issue format and thinking that it seemed a bit remedial. Overly simplistic. I made this deduction based off of looking at the art alone, not by reading any of it. However, I later discovered this book had been receiving critical acclaim from many established publications such as the New York Times, so I had to give the trade paperbacks a shot. I’m glad I did.

You see, the art is supposed to look a bit unpretentious because the story is set during the Silver Age of comics. For you non-comic book people, that means it takes place basically in the late fifties, early sixties. The Silver Age was when old characters from the thirties and forties received major revamps, such as the Flash, the Atom, and Green Lantern. It also introduced new characters such Adam Strange. DC: The New Frontier takes this Silver Age era and delivers a story with modern day sensibilities. For instance, Superman and Wonder Woman are trying to clean up Korea while maintaining some sort of autonomy from the US Government for whom they work. The space program is in full swing with Hal Jordan desperately wanting to be a part of it so he can reach the stars. A horrifying Batman realizes he may need to lighten up a bit after a disheartening experience with a child. J’onn J’onzz is unexpectedly transported to Earth and must acclimate or perish. We get traditional appearances from Hour Man, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. We see the Challengers of the Unknown, the Sea Devils, the Suicide Squad, and other favorites from the sixties, as well as re-imagined characters like Steel.

You see, in the comics, originally, all these things were spread out over decades, but now, the author and illustrator, Darwyn Cooke, has blended them all together into one cohesive plot line that culminates with all the heroes joining forces in a very non-traditional manner against a foe that could destroy the world.

This collection honestly feels like if heroes were real, this is how they would act with each other and how our government would react to them. DC: The New Frontier is a captivating read and I urge you to give it a try immediately. It will quickly become one of your favorites.