“Justice League: The New Frontier,” adapted from the late great Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel is an attempt at a new approach toward the DC universe the heroes behind DC. It’s an engaging, poetic, often brilliant animated film with an adult sensibility and intriguing psychological analysis that features a world on the brink of a new frontier, and its heroes and protectors facing the prospect of not being needed. On the opposite spectrum, their views of humanity are waning and devolving as they see endless cruel violence, and hatred take form through horrendous racial crimes. Director David Bullock and co. dare to present a film that takes a step back looking at the humanity that is affected by a world inhabited by DC heroes.
“The New Frontier” introduces an alien known as J’Onn J’Onzz who is also able to discover humanity in all its caveats and rage once he’s accidentally teleported by a scientist. In one excellent sequence, he gains knowledge of our culture and language by watching television and transforming into characters like Groucho Marx, and Bugs Bunny at will. “The New Frontier” is a look at superheroes that aren’t so sure where their allegiances lie, nor are they so definite on what their purposes are. In the past, DC has set down on super powered individuals who were clear on their objective from Batman, Superman, and Aquaman, but the line becomes blurred with this civilization. Especially when some of their fractions seek to over throw them based on their superior abilities.
It then stops becoming a fight worth pursuing and something that even makes Superman consider quitting. But when a sentient being named The Center begins possessing individuals all around the world, the heroes decide that it’s time to stop bickering among one another and band together for a common cause to stop this menace. With a wonderful cast like Kyle McLoughlin, David Boreanaz, and Neil Patrick Harris, respectively, “The New Frontier” is an exciting often compelling character piece. There’s the story of Hal Jordan who has a violent confrontation with a Korean soldier on the cusp of peace talks, and is forever mentally damaged.
Through the trauma, he comes to realize his destiny as the Green Lantern. There’s also Superman, depicted as a moral equalizer who seeks to bring everyone together to save Earth and pursues a resolve among their issues of prejudice and race. Animated in Cooke’s trademark style, “The New Frontier” often watches like a hybrid of the Fleischers and Bruce Timm. It’s a sleek change of pace from the usual blocky trademark style Timm pioneered in the nineties. “The New Frontier” is much more of a sophisticated animated feature from the DC library. There’s a lot to be gained for older folks looking for more than one-liners and knockdown drag out tussles between titans.
The new Commemorative Editions comes with a commentary featuring the late, great Darwyn Cooke, the creator of the original comic books. The commentary is carried over from a previous release. There’s also an audio commentary and roundtable discussion with the various crew members behind “The New Frontier” including Director David Bullock, Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Writer Stan Burkowitz, Voice Director Andrea Romano, Executive Producer Gregory Noveck, and Supervising Producer Michael Goguen. “Retro Action Cool: The Story of Darwyn Cooke” is a twenty minute brand new segment for this release, looking at the career, groundbreaking work, and legacy of the late artist and writer, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 53. There are comments from Cooke’s colleagues and ex-superiors from DC Comics including Dan Didio, and Jim Lee, respectively.
“Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History” is a fun and length look at the history of the “Justice League” in the comics. It’s a fun segment carried over from the original release of the film. “The Legion of Doom: The Pathology of the Super Villain” is a half hour carry over from the original release, which looks at the long history of the Justice League’s villain group of bad guys and rogues. “Comic Book Commentary: Homage to The New Frontier” is a ten minute carry over, which has Darwyn Cooke comparing the film to his original comic book. Finally, there’s an eight minute sneak peak at “Batman: Gotham By Gaslight,” the upcoming Batman animated film adapted from the popular 1989 graphic novel that features Batman in the late 1800’s trying to hunt down the infamous Jack the Ripper. It’s a sneak peek, as DC and Warner are often prone to doing for fans with their newer releases.