Strange Times & Places: DC: The New Frontier

Welcome back to Strange Times & Places, where we’re looking at the second of the two all-time classic Cold War-set DC Comics Elseworlds: DC: The New Frontier!

How’s It Different?

It’s a Royale With Cheese and the best way to describe this mini’s timeline is “The DCU’s Post-Crisis timeline, but in real world time”. Barry Allen is directly inspired by Jay Garrick and they coexist in the world…of the 1950s.

What’s The Story?

It’s a tumultuous time: America’s government (and most of its people) have turned on the masked mystery men that protected them during World War II, teams of non-costumed adventurers (like The Challengers of the Unknown and the Suicide Squad) have stepped in to replace them, and a new generation of superhero (including The Flash and Green Arrow) has started making the scene. This social upheaval will come to a head when a cosmic horror known as The Centre threatens all of mankind – will America rise to the challenge or go extinct?

Best of Differences

  • This tale is written and drawn by the late, great Darwyn Cooke. It will most likely go down in the history books as the man’s signature work and there are few better stories to be remembered for.
  • The six issue mini-series serves as a kind of extended origin tale for both Green Lantern and The Martian Manhunter, going deep into both heroes’ feelings and motivations in the paranoid Cold War world they inhabit.
  • As implied by the synopsis, DC’s non-costumed characters really get a time to shine here. King Faraday, the original Suicide Squad, The Losers, The Challengers of the Unknown, Blackhawk, and even Lois Lane get some spectacular moments throughout the story.
  • John Henry, an original character inserted into the story to reflect the Civil Rights troubles of the day, has a poignant and heartbreaking story arc.
  • Sharp-eyed continuity hounds will notice tons of cameos throughout the mini-series, though the most prominent are easily Air Force pilots Larry Trainor and Nathaniel Adam who show up for the final battle. Though alluded to, their destinies as founding Doom Patrol member Negative Man and Charlton-turned-DC superhero Captain Atom are never explicitly stated.

Final Thoughts

Ending on a transcript of JFK’s “New Frontier” speech, this mini-series is an excellent counterpoint and spiritual sequel to The Golden Age. Whereas that title dealt with the slide into jingoism and paranoia of the 50s, this series took the suggestion that the Silver Age would bring better days and ran with it – not by making things “all right” again, but showing that things can be if we work for it.

Come Back Next Week for Another Installment of Tokusatsu Gesundheit!

 

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past's social media lackey. He's all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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