Thursday, July 29, 2010

Justice League: The New Frontier

Spoiler Level: Medium-Slightly Highish

I haven't read the comic that this video is based on; at the time it was published, I was already spending too much money on "Prestige Format" comics, and I couldn't see doing it for what seemed to me at the time to be just another JLA origin story.

But it turns out that story was really pretty good. I always enjoy Elseworlds stories, especially ones that tie in to real history like this one does. It sticks with the idea that McCarthy forced the Justice Society to resign in the 50's, but then continues to ask, what if the next generation of super heroes rose to fill that gap immediately, at a time when anti-communism was running rampant? Where the heroes weren't just universally accepted but were considered to all be vigilantes? Where those heroes now had a legitimate distrust of their own government after what just happened to the JSA?

I also loved the 1950's look of it all; Ferris Industries looks like the pop-art 50's vision of how the future was supposed to be. Superman still has his Golden-Age color scheme, and Batman starts out with his long-eared 1940's look.

The final lesson, that it shouldn't matter what views we have, we're all Americans and in this together, is a good one for this day and age.

This is the third DCU OVA I've watched (the other two being Superman: Doomsday and Green Lantern: First Flight, the latter of which I plan to review after I finish watching all the bonus features) and I've definitely noticed a trend. The violence is pumped up, which is of course why it has the PG-13 rating. However, I also have to wonder if it's not a bit forced, to bring home the point that "this is not Superfriends." Same thing with the dialogue; while it's nice that the story doesn't have to come up with substitutes for "ass" and "son of a bitch," it's not like the foul language is essential to the story. I'm kind of left with the attitude that a lot of the early imported anime of the 90's had, where the anime community was working too hard to emphasize that they weren't kiddie cartoons.

But overall I'd say the DCU OVAs I've seen have been 3 for 3, and I look forward to seeing more of them. It's great that we live in age where comic book animation can not only be a thriving industry, but that the material is treated with so much respect.


Captain JLS said...

I'm a big fan of this one, but then I picked up the two-volume graphic novel release of THE NEW FRONTIER when it came out in that format and fell in love with the way Darwyn Cooke draws -- well, EVERYTHING. His run of THE SPIRIT comics that DC published was similarly fantastic, and is worth seeking out as well.

While it's not as great as the comics, yeah, the way it evokes the period is great, I love the way it uses the Martian Manhunter -- poor guy never gets enough time in the spotlight elsewhere, especially using his original detective gimmick -- and it even made me not hate Hal Jordan, which is a trick in and of itself. I came away from it loving the DCU, which is a shame, because then you turn around and look at the comics they're publishing today and none of them have that same sense of joy, wonder, and optimism. There's no really good next story to pick up from here, in graphic novel or animated form. How often have I seen a superb reinterpretation of these characters (or even Marvel's characters) and went, "Why can't this be the 'real' version that goes on forever and ever?" But I guess if it went on forever and ever it would become as old and complicated and tired as the "real" versions have gotten.

I've heard good things about the new one that just came out, the Batman vs. the Red Hood OVA based on the return of Jason Todd storyline from a few years ago. Shame that's being followed by an animated version of the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner Supergirl story that drove me screaming away from DC's SUPERMAN/BATMAN title. Not even the promise of more Kevin Conroy as Batman could get me to watch that one ...

Fer said...

Thanks for chiming in about Martian Manhunter. I agree, he was a pivotal part of the movie. I LOVED his scenes watching TV to practice taking on human forms.

As to this continuity vs. the "real" continuity-- your right, they would just clutter this one up too. Look at Kingdom Come. That's the big problem with comic book universes, is that to boost sales there are always "Events," and those events never fail to make things messier.

So why the hate for Hal Jordan? Is it cause he bumped Kyle Rayner? Still blame him for killing the Corps? Or is it that he's had little to no core personality over the years and every writer comes up with their own personality for him, making him something of a mess?

Don't get me wrong, I've read most of Hal Jordan's run and I have respect for him as the Silver Age Green Lantern, but I saw absolutely no reason for him to come back from the dead. Or Barry Allen, for that matter.