Darwyn Cooke Interview

Darwyn Cooke is the talented creator behind such projects as DC's Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina's Big Score, and he penciled the first 4 issues of Catwoman. His latest project is DC: The New Frontier, which looks at the dawning of the Silver Age. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently got in touch with Cooke to find out more.

Westfield: What was the inspiration for DC: The New Frontier?

Darwyn Cooke: DC had asked me to consider doing a JLA story. I realized that what fascinated me about the characters was the time before they became the JLA. How did they come to be heroes in the first place?

Westfield: What is there about this time period - the dawning of the Silver Age - that appeals to you?

Cooke: It was the beginning of the cold war and the race for space. Very exciting times, and from a superhero point of view, it was the last era of the hero.

Westfield: What can you tell us about series and its story?

Cooke: New Frontier is a six issue limited series from DC that takes a look at the core characters of the DC Universe, back in the time they were created, so that's the original Justice League and the characters around them at the time. At 380 pages, there's more than one goal, but I think at this point, it can be summed up succinctly. The goal is to try to successfully reflect the essence of what it means to be a hero.

Westfield: Is your work on DC: The New Frontier influenced by any specific Silver Age creators?

Cooke: Oh yes, primarily the late, great Robert Kanigher. Also Jack Kirby, John Broome, Gardner Fox, Alex Toth, Joe Kubert and Russ Heath.

Westfield: Is the series in continuity?

Cooke: There was a hell of a lot of conversation about continuity and it's one of the reasons the project's taken almost four years to get going. In the end, it was decided that what you call 'present day continuity' wasn't something we couldn't strictly observe. What we decided to do and what I think is best in the long term, and I hate to frustrate a regular reader who sees a discrepancy, but what we decided to do was work with the continuity in what I think fans would refer to as 'the pre-Crisis era,' which is to say before DC collapsed all their time and universes. I'm going with the continuity that existed during the time period I'm writing about and at that point, continuity was kept open. We all knew that Barry Allen had an Iris West in his life, but that life went on from episode to episode and it wasn't a convoluted thing.

But that doesn't mean this is an 'anything goes' book. Absolutely not. I think that would be wrong as well and I think that's where a lot of mistakes get made these days, because guys think they gotta make a left turn because a left turn hasn't been made yet. I thought it was very important for me to have as much respect for the original creators as I could and what I did was try to embrace everything that the guys who created these characters put on paper. Unfortunately, there's no way you can absorb everything everyone's ever done continuity wise and expect it to work. It follows the basic continuity that was set by DC in the 60's.

Westfield: Do you address why some Golden Age heroes, such as the Jay Garrick Flash and Green Lantern Alan Scott, "disappeared" and were replaced by new versions of the heroes (the Barry Allen Flash and Green Lantern Hal Jordan)?

Cooke: Yes, I do.... see next question.

Westfield: In the information from DC, it mentions that Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman "survived the anti-hero sentiment of the Cold War." Could you tell us something about this anti-hero sentiment?

Cooke: In Fifties America, the communist witch-hunts ruined thousands of lives. The government was rooting out "subversives" and "commies." They lump the masked adventurers into this category, and a federal law outlaws them.

Westfield: Are there any characters in the series you're especially enjoying working on?

Cooke: Yes... I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I'm enjoying Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on you'd like to mention?

Cooke: Yeesh, isn't 400 pages enuff [sic] for this year? Seriously, it'll be spring before I announce anything new.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Cooke: If anyone is in Vegas for the Halloween convention, stop by the Darwyn Cooke/New Frontier booth. We'll have posters, T-shirts, artwork, and myself and some industry pals will be signing and sketching. Hope to see you there!