Tagged: New Frontier

Joe Corallo: Darwyn Cooke – A Personal Remembrance

Darwyn Cooke 2

As many of you know Darwyn Cooke, beloved comic book industry icon, passed away Saturday May 14th after a battle with lung cancer. He was 53 years old. I could go into all of the facts, his accomplishments and merits in animation, illustration, and writing, but many of you already know them all or could easily gain access to them on the plethora of websites covering this tragedy. So in lieu of listing off his accomplishments, I’m going to talk about what Darwyn Cooke means to me.

Darwyn Cooke 1My earliest memories of Darwyn Cooke’s work was from Marvel’s X-Statix. Peter Milligan, Mike and Laura Allred crafted an incredible pop art critique of the direction we were going in our fame obsessed culture using mutants as the metaphor of choice. One of the artists that also worked on this was Darwyn Cooke. My younger brother James was not quite a teenager as this was coming out, but he knew right away that it was something special. It took me a little longer than James to really appreciate just how incredible artists like Darwyn, the Alfred’s and Paul Pope are, but not that much longer.

From there I would see Darwyn Cooke’s work pop up time to time. I was always attracted to it, but never really know where to jump in. For a few years I found myself travelling the country working on different political or advocacy campaigns and my comic reading was sporadic at best. One of the artists I fell in love with at that time was a collaborator of Cooke’s, Tim Sale.

Once I really settled back in New York in 2010, I delved into working on comics myself. By NYCC 2011, I had enough comic work done where I decided to get a table with my then collaborator Bob Wulff. This would end up being more of a learning experience than anything else, but we did end up having a table diagonally across from Tim Sale. More than a few times when he had a lull I’d walk over, chat with him, and get a couple of books signed, including Absolute Batman Long Halloween, the only Absolute edition I owned at the time. When I asked Tim what other Absolute editions he would recommend, he said without missing a beat, The New Frontier.

Not long after I picked it up and was blown away by how gorgeous the art was and how he lovingly and seamlessly crafted such a complicated and continuity heavy story in just the right way to make it all feel so straightforward and simple.

I would soon be given a copy of the first of the Richard Stark’s Parker graphic novel adaptation from IDW, The Hunter, by my friend Mike Bradley. He owned and operated Collectors Kingdom for over two decades before his sudden passing on April 6th, 2015. He was 48 years old. For a while I would stop in at least once a week to pick up comics, chat with Mike and the regulars there, and exchange recommendations. I thought of his love of Darwyn Cooke and how he gave me that book when I heard of his passing, and now Darwyn Cooke’s passing has brought this all full circle for me.

For NYCC 2012 it was announced that Darwyn Cooke would be one of the guests. I was excited at the prospect of meeting someone whose art I had grown to adore. Shortly before the convention, however, he had to cancel. This left me disappointed, but I figured it wouldn’t be too long until I’d get a chance to see him. After all, it’s not like he was going anywhere.

One year later at NYCC 2013 he was again announced as a guest and unlike the previous year, he remained as a guest. This time I would get to meet him. Darwyn Cooke didn’t have a table in artist alley, which made things more difficult. I saw that he had a panel on his life and career moderated by Paul Levitz on the last day of the con in the last time slot, and 4pm. Paul also wrote a heartfelt post on Darwyn Cooke’s passing you can read here. I planned my day around making sure I could attend.

Before I headed over to the panel, I dropped by artist alley to pick up a Superman sketch from my friend John Broglia. We chatted about the show, and it eventually came up that I was going to the Darwyn Cooke panel. John’s eyes lit up and he turned to his bag to dig out a copy of one of Darwyn’s Parker adaptations. John told me that every con he attends that Darwyn Cooke is at he tries to get a comic signed by him, and asked if I could get that signed for him. Having no idea if I’d even be able to get a signature from Darwyn Cooke at this panel, I said yes.

The panel was everything I hoped it would be. Paul Levitz facilitated a wonderful, engaging conversation about how Darwyn got his start in comics. Afterwards, the modest sized panel audience mostly dissipated as a handful of people stuck around, including myself. When it was my turn to talk to Darwyn Cooke, I didn’t do or say anything special. It was mostly niceties and a declaration of how much his work means to me.

I had three books for him to sign: the Parker book Mike Bradley gave to me, the one that I was getting signed for John Broglia, and copy of Absolute DC: The New Frontier. He signed the Parker books first. When it came to the Absolute, I told him that Tim Sale had told me about it a couple of cons back. After hearing that, he looked up at me and with a big smile on his face asked me my name. He proceeded to sign the book to me and did a quick head sketch. We shook hands, still with that big smile on his face, and I rushed back to artist alley to get John his book back as I ignored the loud calls from volunteers that the show was over.

There were at least a couple of other chances I had to see Darwyn Cooke again, but I didn’t. Some conflict or another would arise, and I’d think to myself how it’s more important that someone else who hasn’t met him yet got the opportunity to anyway. After all, it’s not like he was going anywhere.

Darwyn Cooke and his work in comics mean a great deal to me and countless other people. The brightness, optimism, and heart in his storytelling often seemed like the last stand of a losing war in mainstream comics against darkness, cynicism, and hate. Though others still work on combating this bleakness, to me he has been their greatest champion. Because of the work he has done, he’s left countless other people in his place to champion these ideals in his stead. Some of them you’ve heard of, some of them you’ll hear of soon, and I’ll bet some of them won’t even come into being until all of us here now are gone.

My condolences to his family, his friends, and to all the lives he’s touched. The world of comics is a darker place for now, but it won’t be for long.

Darwyn Cooke 3

Review: ‘Green Lantern: First Flight’

Review: ‘Green Lantern: First Flight’

The care and attention to detail given the direct-to-DVD animated films based on DC Comics’ properties is evident. As a result, watching Green Lantern: First Flight is a visual treat. Following the others in this line, it is entirely on its own and disconnected from any other video so casual watchers will not be burdened with tremendous amounts of continuity.

In fact, the script for this feature, premiering tonight at the San Diego Comic-Con and going on sale Tuesday, does a nice job of encapsulating the necessary backstory for the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps. The film moves along at a nice pace and with most of it taking place off planet, the animators have a terrific time designing locales, aliens, and interpreting the GLC from comics for the screen.  I can quibble and say that I wish the original Gil Kane design for Hal Jordan’s costume were used or that Abin Sur resembled his comic book counterpart but it’s all minor.

The story is a fresh take on Hal Jordan inheriting the power ring and joining the Corps. As adapted from the 1990s version, Sinestro shows up to act as his trainer and reveals his corruption, forcing the student to fight the teacher. On the other hand, in the comics, Sinestro (voiced nicely by Victor Garber) was so manic about instilling order; he first blurred and then stepped over the line between protector and dictator. In this film, Sinestro is just corrupt and dismissive of the Guardians.

The Guardians suffer in translation. Originally, they all appeared identical, based on Israel’s David Ben-Gurion, so they could act in concert. Here, they are more distinctive to the point of looking goofy. They used to be mostly omniscient but here are weak and flawed, annoyed that a flawed human received the great Abin Sur’s ring, forgetting the ring’s programming to seek out the most appropriate candidate. These living power batteries are mishandled and their influence diminished.

Perhaps the biggest change between the comics and the film is that the yellow power that Sinestro adopts is not taken from Parallax, the embodiment of fear, but is some unexplained substance that rivals the green energy the Guardians used for their Corps. It just exists and is nowhere near as dramatically compelling. Screenwriter Alan Burnett usually doesn’t make errors like this and it’s a shame it hurts the film’s impact.

Hal, who was very nicely handled in [[[New Frontier]]], is less an imposing figure here, despite Christopher Meloni’s solid voice work. He questions the Guardians, bonds with his fellow corpsmen, and does heroic work but doesn’t resonate as a hero or as the Greatest Green Lantern of them all. As a result, the film is nowhere near as powerful as it should be.

The two-disc DVD comes complete with feature trailers on the previous animated released along with an intriguing sneak peek at the next offering, September’s [[[Superman & Batman: Public Enemies]]]. A short featurette on [[[Blackest Night]]] is a nice teaser for the comic books. The second disc comes with a short chat with Geoff Johns about Green Lantern along with Johns and others talking about Sinestro and the Guardians. The GL-themed episode of [[[Duck Dodgers]]] is included along with a two-part [[[JL Unlimited]]] animated adventure.

Overall, it’s a nice package and worth a look but the lack of a strong lead character and stereotypical villain posturing robs the story of the potential power.

Here’s a four minute preview of the movie, via MTV SplashPage:

ComicMix Quick Picks – February 19, 2009

ComicMix Quick Picks – February 19, 2009

Today’s list of quick items that don’t fill a full post on their own:

  • If you haven’t read it yet, you simply must: about DIGITAL COMICS by ~Balak01 on deviantART. Now this is the way to think about digital comics, none of this clutch cargo animation going around. Marvel, take note.
  • Matt Smith locked into Doctor Who role with £600,000 deal. And most importantly, it’s a five year deal.
  • Missed this one: Two more actors reported to be in line for The Flash — and one of them is Neil Patrick Harris, who already voiced the Flash in New Frontier.
  • And speaking of Neil Patrick Harris, Trinity College in Connecticut is running live performances of Dr. Horrible. Everybody, sing along!
  • “Spider-Man” Arrested In Israel:

    Cops were called to the scene after receiving a flurry of calls from gridlocked commuters near the Rosh Ha’ayin intersection who reported a man in a Spiderman costume throwing ropes at cars, the improvised lassos presumably meant to substitute for the web-crawler’s famous mechanical web-shooters.”

    When the individual woke up in the hospital, he said that he had no idea where the costume came from.

    Clearly, this is going to be the evil costume’s fault. Via Haaretz

  • My favorite non-comics story of the day: Police: TV exec beheads wife who filed for divorce.
  • Joss Whedon to receive SFWA Bradbury Award. Created in 1992 by then-President Ben Bova and named after famed author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury, the Bradbury Award is a special president’s award presented for outstanding genre-themed work in a dramatic medium. "Like everyone who picks up a pen, I was a rabid Bradbury fan and as greatly influenced by him as any other writer I read," Whedon said. "To receive the award named for him is an honor I’d not dreamed of. In my defense, it didn’t exist back then. What did exist were the very lovely, very twisted and very human stories that warped my impressionable mind, and that I have tried, in whatever medium they will let me, to measure up to." Whedon will be honored during the Nebula Awards Weekend in Los Angeles, California, April 24-26, 2009.

Anything else? Consider this an open thread.

ComicMix Six: Worst Moments in Skrull ‘Invasion’ History

ComicMix Six: Worst Moments in Skrull ‘Invasion’ History

Yes, we’ve all heard the big news: Skrulls have invaded the world. They’re everywhere, hidden from magic and telepathy, ready to do their worst. They’ve infiltrated the highest levels of government and they’ve replaced all of our planet’s best and brightest with sleeper agents, ready to bring down all that we hold dear.

But that doesn’t mean you should be worried.

Here at ComicMix, we know that the Skrull Empire doesn’t exactly have the best track record. Heck, they once replaced Alicia Masters, one of the best friends of the Fantastic Four, with a Skrull agent, then seemed to forget she was even there until years later when she was found out — which led to the FF blowing up the biggest space station in the aliens’ Empire.

And that’s not even the tip of the Skrull Empire’s iceberg of ineptitude. For the first in our new series of ComicMix Six features, we present some of the Secret Invasion villains’ least-impressive diabolical schemes through the years.


‘Star Trek: Year Four’ Review

‘Star Trek: Year Four’ Review

When I was a wee lad of, oh, let’s say 13, to hear the words "untold tales" was a thrill in itself.

"What’s that, you say? In this story, I will discover that Wolverine met Spider-Man’s parents for about an hour several months before the web-spinning super-hero was even born? And it turns out Green Lantern’s landlord was once involved with the Russian mob? Awesome! How did I live before now?"

But now, I am in my mid-20s, long past the prime of life, and my standards are a mite higher. A story that fills in gaps of the past for its own sake just isn’t enough. It must also be a good story by itself. It must be able to entertain me and interest me and, if at all possible, elicit emotional reactions from me that would make even a positronic android react with a cry of "Neat!"

And so, let’s talk about the first comic book miniseries entitled Star Trek: Year Four (IDW Publishing), which was written by David Tischman and penciled by Steve Conley, and which has recently been collected as a trade paperback. In the original Star Trek TV series, Kirk informed audiences every week that the Enterprise was engaging in a "five-year mission" of exploration. Sadly, the show was cancelled after its third season. Tischman and Conley’s series attempts to inform us all about just what happened next, long before the time that the Star Trek films picked up.


Review: ‘The Last Days of Krypton’ by Kevin J. Anderson

Review: ‘The Last Days of Krypton’ by Kevin J. Anderson

Everyone knows the basic story of [[[Superman]]]. Baby Kal-El, last survivor of the planet Krypton, rocketed to Earth by his parents Lara and Jor-El, found by a nice couple in Kansas, raised to be Clark Kent AKA Superman. But what about the story of Krypton before Kal’s birth? What about the lives of his biological parents?

In this hardcover novel published by Harper Entertainment, Kevin J. Anderson ([[[Captain Nemo]]], [[[Hopscotch]]], [[[Star Wars: Darksaber]]]) gives us a story of the ill-fated planet and its people, who are so tranquil and advanced in science that they have stopped dreaming and questioning reality. One man, Jor-El, still dares to dream — but finds his technology constantly censored by the Science Council and by Commissioner Zod. Eventually, Jor-El meets someone much like him, an artist named Lara Lor-Van who never hesitates to speak her mind, and the two fall in love. When disasters begin to occur, Jor-El and Zod may have to join forces to save their planet from destruction. But is Zod really concerned about the benefit of Krypton or is he plotting his own take-over?

In the foreword to this novel, comic writer Marv Wolfman (New Teen Titans, The Crisis On Infinite Earths) stated that Kevin J. Anderson’s goal was to create a story that took elements from all of the various and contradictory interpretations of the planet Krypton, its society and just why it was destroyed. (Did the sun go supernova, was it destroyed by a shifting orbit or was it a victim of a war involving terrible weapons?) The result would then be a tale that would allow everyone to at least find one or two familiar elements and would be entertaining for people who knew very little about the Superman mythos.

Unfortunately, that is not quite what we get. But more on that later. First, I should mention there are many good scenes here and there, as well as some touching moments. Of particular note is Anderson’s version of the first meeting between Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. It involves danger and nice characterization and the date that it leads into shows just why these two fall for each other. Too often these days, we are shown a couple who are in love but who don’t really show this in their actions, requiring the writer/director to spell things out by having their characters awkwardly say things such as “I’m blinded by your love.” (Are you listening, George Lucas?!)


Video: Darwyn Cooke Draws Wonder Woman

Video: Darwyn Cooke Draws Wonder Woman

On a really good day, I’m occasionally able to draw something that actually resembles a human shape, but that doesn’t make me an artist. I’m reminded of this when I see footage like this recent video of artist Darwyn Cooke from MegaCon.

The video, shot by Adam and posted over at the Drawn! website, shows Cooke working on a drawing of Wonder Woman, one of the characters featured in his critically praised New Frontier miniseries and its recent animated adaptation.


‘Justice League: The New Frontier’ Tops Xbox LIVE Videos

‘Justice League: The New Frontier’ Tops Xbox LIVE Videos

Justice League: The New Frontier, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation’s direct-to-DVD adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s critically praised miniseries, was the top movie rental last week on Xbox LIVE’s Video Marketplace. The film, which imagines the DC superteam in the midst of the Cold War, took the top spot on most days since its release on on February 26.

Scott Nocas, a Marketing Manager for LIVE’s Video Store said, "With the great success of Superman: Doomsday on Xbox LIVE just after last year’s Comic-Con, Warner Bros. and Xbox were excited to bring another DC Universe animated movie to our consumers. We continue to see great engagement with the movie, and other DC Comics content on Xbox Marketplace."

Currently available at no charge on the service is a bonus feature that includes interviews with comic luminaries Jim Krueger, Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, Rich Fogel and Darwyn Cooke himself.

Retail sales numbers for New Frontier have not been released yet but the film is expected to have done well. In fact, some retailers are actually having a difficult time keeping the film in stock, making the Xbox LIVE film an even more attractive option.

Wombat, a gamer from the popular CAGcast podcast, recently recounted his own experience trying to buy the Blu-Ray version of the film at a Circuit City in Union Square, NYC. "Naw, man. I bought the last one yesterday, sucka," an employee told him.


If you’re still waiting on your copy, feel free to spend some time reading the ComicMix review of Justice League: New Frontier, checking out photos of the Series 2 line of "New Frontier" toys, or just watching the trailer for the film posted after the jump:


Darwyn Cooke on ‘Justice League: New Frontier’

Darwyn Cooke on ‘Justice League: New Frontier’

With the Justice League: The New Frontier DVD hitting shelves next week, a New Frontier Special comic scheduled for March 5 release, and DC re-releasing Darwyn Cooke’s miniseries that inspired the film, the award-winning creator is in the midst of a good kind of perfect storm these days.

In a recent interview with CBR, Cooke explains the genesis of the original New Frontier miniseries, his work with the creators of the animated film, and his plans for a potential sequel to the New Frontier story.

“I have a story in mind. And it would take us up to the year 1972. That’s when [Jack] Kirby comes to DC, basically. And so I would probably say, if there was a sequel, it would span that time period from when Kennedy is elected until then. Right now, at this point, it’s pure vapor and rumor.”

Cooke also hints at what readers can expect from the upcoming Justice League: The New Frontier Special, which will feature three stories from the New Frontier era written and drawn by Cooke.

“In ‘The New Frontier,’ there is an article that appears about superheroes being hunted down and Hourman dying and Batman and Superman having a big duel where Batman actually defeats Superman. It’s the story behind all of that,” revealed Cooke. “What it does is give me a chance to have those two beat the crap out each other, which some people say, ‘Oh no, not again.’ But well, heh, you know, sorry, you only live once and here we go.

”But it’s all 1950s style. The technology for this type of a fight for Batman, he’s got to be incredibly ingenious because technology-wise, it’s different world.

Cooke also shares some thoughts about his critically praised work on DC’s The Spirit series, based on the Will Eisner character, and hints that he’ll be returning to an ongoing title at some point in the near future.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Make sure to check out the ComicMix review of Justice League: The New Frontier animated film.]