Justice League: The New Frontier & r & & r & by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & loved Justice League comics as a kid, and I was addicted to the Cartoon Network series (2001-04). But what happened after that? Why did Bruce Timm and the rest of the gang at DC quit the series? Because economics dictated that they switch to straight-to-DVD projects like The New Frontier (and Superman/Doomsday before it).
Based on the acclaimed Darwyn Cooke reinvention of the Justice League, The New Frontier takes you back to the 1950s, complete with paranoia and Commies. Cooke's stylized, iconic art is lost in the translation (with the exception of Batman), as is his leisurely pace. In The New Frontier, our heroes are coming into contact with a sinister, primal force -- the Center. Meanwhile, new heroes, like Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern, are introduced. It all culminates in them teaming up to defeat the menace in rah-rah, all-American style.
One of the great things about comics has always been the variety. Writers and artists under deadline have had to crank out the storylines, and that led to outlandishness, goofiness and, most important, inventiveness. When Timm and his gang made the TV series, they had to keep the stories rolling; now that they're just reinterpreting DC classics, that creative edge is lost.
But the two-disc Special Edition does have its charms, especially two features that trace the histories of both the Justice League and the Legion of Doom, featuring vintage art and comments from some of the best DC artists and writers.
Finally (I have to ask) why are these new DVDs rated PG-13? The New Frontier features a gunshot to the head early on, and unnecessary cartoon blood flows freely. I know comics have become darker and more grown-up, but when I was a kid, I could read them and absorb their adult themes without blood and guts being splattered on the pages. Now it seems like they're writing comics -- and these cartoons -- for other middle-age guys who loved comics as kids while forgetting to include actual kids in the equation. Call me a prude, but I would have liked to share this version of the Justice League with my young kids.