The New Frontier…Too Soon

Being a Son of the Silver Age comes with a bit of a down side.Many of the Silver Age Creators have passed away and now even the Bronze Age artists are leaving us. But this past weekend (May 14th) marks the passing far too soon of one of my favorite contemporary comics creators.

Darwyn Cooke passed away last Saturday morning around 1:30 AM. He was 53 years old. He lost his battle with a very aggressive form of cancer.

Wonder Woman 37 cover

I really became aware of Darwyn Cooke with his 400 page story “The New Frontier”. Now I have always been a Marvel fan and really only wandered over to the DC side of the ledger when extraordinary things were happening there. Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil’s Batman. Len Wein and Berni Wrightson’s Swamp Thing. Frank Miller’s Dark Knight. Miller and Mazzucchelli’s Year One, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan.

Then along came DC’s “The New Frontier”. I discovered this after the fact. I picked up the entire run at Fan Expo a few years ago and fell in love with his fantastic storytelling. To me he was reminiscent of the Silver Age of Comics. Which was so refreshing. He was like a cross between John Romita Sr. and Alex Toth!

Since that first 12 issue run I have gotten several versions. A two part trade and finally the hardcover Absolute Edition. It contains the entire 400 page story in an oversize 9″ x 16″ volume. It contains also many pin-up pages and behind the scenes character sketches and jam packed with covers, anecdotes and more.

Superman And Wonder Woman 14 cover

If you have not read this story, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It is to me what comics are supposed to be: fun! Darwyn makes every character in the DC Universe his own. Wonder Woman actually is an Amazon. The banter between Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan is infectious. You can’t get enough of these characters. Martian Manhunter, Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and it goes on and on.

Another of my Darwyn Cooke favorites are his adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels. Especially in “The Martini Edition”, another oversized tome by IDW.

Darwyn was also involved with the”Before Watchmen” series, writing and Illustrating Minutemen and writing the Silk Spectre series illustrated by Amanda Conner.

He also was heavily involved as a storyboard artist for many DC animated series, including Batman Beyond and The New Batman Adventures.

Action Comics 37 cover

Upon doing research for this article I discovered a few stories that I never knew about. In 2001 he teamed up with Ed Brubaker to do a remake of Catwoman where he redesigned the look of the character that defines her still. He then wrote and illustrated “Selina’s Big Score”.

I will be looking these up immediately. As well as what I believe is his final printed work “The Twilight Children” from Vertigo.

And you know what? He was Canadian.

So once again, we must resign ourselves to the body of work by an  artist that has left us far to soon… for the new frontier.

Continued Happy Collecting!

Dennis De Pues
Dennis De Pues

Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.

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Charlie Kim
7 years ago

Is it just me or has there been an unusually large amount of passing this year:

David Bowie
Gary Shandling
Nancy Reagan
Abe Vigoda (Fish from Barney Miller)
Grizzly Adams
Schneider from One Day at a Time
and today: Morley Safer

This list is pretty much my childhood. I picked up the first 12 issues of the Spirit today. This is my 3rd set but at $1 per book… I couldn’t resist. A small price to pay for awesomeness!

7 years ago

I read a BBC article about this viewpoint. Essentially, there are many more “celebrities” than ever before.. In addition, many of the folks we grew up with are reaching their 70s or 80s….and with many more of them reaching retirement age, we’ll see more of them dying off. But people like Darwyn Cooke passing at age 52 is an anomaly.

Dennis De Pues
7 years ago

Yes to both of you , Charlie and Alan.I guess it comes with the territory of getting older.My Dad used to say that the body just gets older but the mind stays young.

I certainly now am able to understand that much better. Darwyn is a loss far too soon due to an aggressive form of Cancer.

Charlie, are you talking about the Spirit that Darwyn had a hand in? I am unfamiliar with it and need to pick it up, along with the Catwoman issues he did as well.

Dennis De Pues
7 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Kim

And also Glen Frey.

That was a shocker for me.

Charlie Kim
7 years ago

Yup… demographics. Hope the comic investors are taking note.

Darwyn Cooke did the Spirit from issues #1-12 and is readily available around town for about a buck a book. Beautiful stuff. Thanks for the link Dennis.