KC on the frontier

KC on the frontier

by KC Carlson

DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition

DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition

Consider this a Public Service Announcement on behalf of Darwyn Cooke (yay!) and DC Comics (boo hissssssss…). I shouldn’t have to do this if DC Comics’ marketing department would do its job and properly promote one of their very best collected books, by providing actual details of what’s included in it. I would have loved to have this information months ago when the book was first solicited (and you had to order it), but now the book is actually out, so here’s the lowdown on the new DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition.

But first, a short publishing history of the book. Conceived, written, and drawn by Darwyn Cooke, DC: The New Frontier was originally published as a six-issue comic book miniseries in 2004. So popular was the series that it was quickly collected into two trade paperbacks in 2004 and 2005. The definitive (oversize) version: DC: The New Frontier: The Absolute Edition followed soon after in 2006. Then it was adapted as the second original DC animated feature; Justice League: The New Frontier was produced direct to video in 2008. I’ve previously written about Justice League: The New Frontier at Comics Worth Reading. You can also find out more about DC: The New Frontier: The Absolute Edition there, where it was named one of the best books of 2006.  If you want more detail on the actual story and background and why it’s so important, please click those links.

Justice League: The New Frontier DVD

Justice League: The New Frontier DVD

Here’s a mini-recap: It’s the transitional story of many of the DC characters set in the real-time limbo between the DC Comics’ Golden and Silver Ages — without you having to know anything about the “ages of comics.” It begins in 1945 and ends (in epilogue) in 1960, with both John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” Democratic National Convention Nomination Acceptance Address and the legendary formation of the Justice League of America. Hal Jordan is the focal character, but we also see dozens of other DC heroes, supporting characters, and cult heroes who also served, but never really got their chance in the spotlight. It’s Darwyn Cooke’s love letter to real heroism, respect for the classic characters of the era (as well as their real-life creators), and a laser-focused understanding of this important transitional period in America. Hal Jordan is the “star,” but the storylines involving The Losers (WWII characters) and a Cooke-invented version of Steel are heartbreakingly devastating.

(And for those geeks who want to know, technically, the story exists outside of “standard” (whatever that means these days) DC Continuity, although the story was recently assigned to “Earth-21” in the recent “Guidebook” issue of DC’s Multiversity. So he probably didn’t realize at the time, but Cooke created his very own DC parallel universe. Let’s hope only he’s allowed to play with it.)

DC: The New Frontier: The Absolute Edition

DC: The New Frontier: The Absolute Edition

DC: The New Frontier went on to win awards for both its original publication and specifically for the Absolute Edition, including multiple Eisner Awards, Harvey Awards, and a Shuster Award to Cooke for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist (Writer/Artist).


Bottom line, it appears that this new DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition includes everything (including the slipcase artwork — it’s under the dust jacket) that was in the now officially out-of-print Absolute Edition. That includes:

  • Paul Levitz’s Introduction
  • the extra story pages that Cooke added specifically for the Absolute Edition
  • the cover gallery
  • the extremely detailed annotations, including Cooke’s Dedications to comics’ early storytellers
  • an extensive sketchbook
  • Behind-the-Scenes notes
  • design sketches and photos for the New Frontier Action Figures
  • and a selection of odds & ends called Frontierland.
Justice League: The New Frontier Special

Justice League: The New Frontier Special

It also includes (not originally in the Absolute Edition) the entire contents of the 2008 Justice League: The New Frontier Special by Cooke and his palswhich includes stories about Superman & Batman, Robin & Kid Flash, and Wonder Woman & Black Canary, as well as a look at the Justice League: The New Frontier animated video. As a special treat, the Deluxe Edition also includes a new 2014 Introduction that explains exactly why this special came to be. It also points out why you shouldn’t miss the Special’s Rip Hunter intro page, which pretty clearly explains Cooke’s real feelings about something I brought up a few paragraphs ago. Not to be missed.

This book has much more than DC’s original solicitation pointed out.

As far as I know, that’s everything The New Frontier-wise ever produced… eeeexcept for a short King Faraday story originally published in Solo #5 (2005) that really doesn’t have a lot to do with the DC: The New Frontier other than the setting, but Cooke labeled it “A New Frontier Thriller”. Perhaps he meant the Kennedy “New Frontier” rather than the DC one. Either way, if you’re upset that the story isn’t in DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition, you may want to ask yourself how you can own any deluxe edition of DC: The New Frontier and not already own Solo #5 (which is all Darwyn Cooke material, if you didn’t know).


The cover to the second New Frontier trade paperback

The cover to the second New Frontier trade paperback

So which version — the Absolute or the Deluxe — is the best? They are completely different reading experiences. The Absolute is physically larger and printed on slick, coated, white paper stock. The Deluxe is smaller (and easier to hold for extended reading). It’s printed on a lighter weight (but durable) recycled paper stock that’s not quite as white (or coated) as the Absolute. I think the Deluxe offers a more intimate reading experience.

Let me put it to you this way: The Absolute is like seeing your favorite action movie (superheroic or not) on a 3-D IMAX screen with fantastic sound. And the Deluxe is like curling up in bed watching your favorite classic film on TCM on your reliable, but not so hi-tech, old TV. With some hot chocolate (or maybe a hot toddy…).

Whichever you choose, just read it. You won’t regret it.


KC CARLSON: Tries to re-read DC: A New Frontier at least once a year.

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. It’s just like an itch you can’t scratch, isn’t it…


DC: The New Frontier: The Deluxe Edition HC



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