Justice League: The New Frontier

I dislike reviews that say, ”Yeah, the book was better.” Most of the time, I think, the work under scrutiny — a film, a TV show — should be judged on its own merits. But with Justice League: The New Frontier, I’m afraid…yeah, the comic book was better. I feel okay making that assertion because the guy who created The New Frontier, artist-writer Darwyn Cooke, almost seems to agree. Cooke conceived DC: The New Frontier, a six-issue miniseries, in 2003. It was a gorgeous, bristlingly intelligent retelling of the roots of such DC Comics superheroes as Green Lantern, the Flash, and other figures who later became the Justice League. Listen to Cooke’s commentary on this cartoon version and you’ll hear a man loyally toeing the company line while letting you know — from remarks about story lines that needed to be cut or shortened, from the resignation in his voice — that he might be disappointed in this New Frontier. The animation is smooth but a little stiff; the voice work by David Boreanaz, Neil Patrick Harris, Lucy Lawless, and other famous folk is heartfelt. But if you want to see superhero storytelling at its finest, pick up the trade paperbacks collecting Cooke’s print original.

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