NEW FRONTIER was Darwyn Cooke’s reinterpretation of the birth of the Silver Age, collected here in an omnibus with a bunch of special features. We open as the WW II squad known as the Losers dies on Dinosaur Island (the setting of a long-running DC war-comics series, The War That Time Forgot), then House Unamerican Activities Commitee drives the Golden Age Justice Society out of the hero business, ultimately leaving Superman standing alone (and Batman operating in the shadows). But now new heroes are appearing, ranging from a super-speedster (“You’re the Illinois Flash?”) to a Martian — how will the government cope? And what happens when the world needs heroes to stand against a new threat?
I like this better than I did first reading, but still not as much as others do. This kind of mashup isn’t new (Steve Englehart did a very good one situating the birth of the JLA against the 1950s during his time writing Justice League of America) and while the individual scenes are all good, Cooke takes a long time to get to the superheroes: we have the war comics stuff and a whole lot of pages spent on Hal Jordan, Korean War veteran, borderline pacifist, test pilot before he even gets into the ring. Reading the end notes I realize this is because Cooke grew up more into war comics than superheroes, hence his emphasis on non-costume Hal and his relationship with other pilots of various eras (Rick Flagg, the hardcase Patton-type, Ace Morgan a moderate and Hal as the kind of liberal who might have joined John Kerry protesting the Vietnam War). But even understanding the reason, I still feel it takes too long to get to the good stuff, but YMMV.
FACE THE CHANGE is Samantha Bryant’s third Menopausal Superheroes book (following Going Through the Change and Change of Life (which I thought I reviewed, but can’t find the link) and it feels like the wrap up of the origin arc, setting the stage for future adventures. In the first book, four women discover the hot-flash treatments they’ve been taken have endowed them with superpowers, not entirely welcome (one woman gets gender-flipped, another “hulks out” when enraged). In the second book, as they hunt the scientist responsible, they met the shadowy “Department” that like the DEO deals with superhumans and has a few of its own.
In V3, former mad scientist Cindy has been deaged to a teenage girl, trying to resume her weird-science career while caring for her obnoxious but injured father. Several of the cast become full-on superheroes and just in time, as a mind-controlling team of villains is taking over their town. This manages to balance the women’s strange experiences and personal drama with the action and the running plots well, and it ends feeling very much as if this fictional world’s age of heroes is starting. I look forward to book four (and in the meantime there’s a retcon novella, Friend or Foe). Samantha’s a friend of mine, but my review is honest.
#SFWApro. Top cover by Darwyn Cooke, don’t know the second artist. All rights to images remain with current holder.