Fresh out of summer, one of the most significant moments still on my mind, and many others, is the passing of Darwyn Cooke. There are myriad topics that could be covered when talking about a man with such immense talent and influence. From his works as an animator, and both writer and artist for comics, to his use of period history in many of his books, there is so much to say. And so much that has already been said. Without question his most famous work (and graphic novel I consider both his best and my personal favorite), DC: The New Frontier covers areas of humanity and politics that are timeless while setting them in a definitively retrospective story. The transition of the 1950s to the 1960s was a time of turmoil on all fronts of American society. DC: The New Frontier explores this era and these issues magnificently while also portraying how these issues are ones that may never go away, not just that they remain relevant five decades later. And in doing this Cooke makes an argument for why idealism is important which is used as the thematic backbone of heroism. But as wonderful as all of that is, one of the most interesting characters in the book is King Faraday.
King Faraday is characterized as the unforgiving suit on a crusade to end super heroism and promote the strength of his own government.Throughout the story he interacts with many of the main characters and serves as an obstacle until the end where he is able to cooperate. In The New Frontier, a threat that could end humanity is imminent and everyone across all of the social, political, ideological spectrums are forced to come to some form of agreement on how it should be fought. Faraday is one character who refuses to compromise. It’s his goal to stamp out extra terrestrial and super human threats, as he considers them to be. One of the main characters, J’onn J’onzz, a Martian who has been the target of Faraday since his arrival, recognizes and understands Faraday’s conviction, even more than Faraday himself. J’onn confronts Faraday with his understanding which begins a shift in Faraday’s mentality. Faraday, who had previously been operating on the assumption that his actions were righteous under his government, begins to recognize the need for cooperation and comes to understand his targets more personally. He has not completely abandoned his mentality, but in light of the immediate crisis is willing to cooperate. While this character arc is not a wholly unique one, its place in the setting and contribution to the themes of DC: The New Frontier make it particularly important and interesting.
DC: The New Frontier is a book that is not overtly political in the sense that it takes sides or tries to push an agenda. It takes a step back to look at the entire social climate of 1960s America and in doing so politics naturally become a major element. King Faraday as the government agent bent on solidifying government control and stand-in for the government itself being forced to back down from his conviction, right or wrong, in order to confront an issue that cares not at all about government and politics, in an era so politically charged and defined by its social issues, is a poignant thing to read in an era that is just as politically charged with just as much social unrest. This is not to say that government and politics don’t matter at all, but that becoming fixated on a single issue with unquestioning loyalty to an idea or goal can impede judgement on many more issues and the ability to cooperate with others.