John F. Kennedy was an irresponsible warmongering douchebag, who proved objectively that he was more immature and reckless than Khruschev, which is saying something. Fuck him, and fuck the relentless nostalgia for his thoroughly pedestrian cold-war intellect and administration.
And, hey, while we’re at it, fuck Darwyn Cooke’s overrated, tedious cold-war nostalgia exercise, “New Frontier.” I own this because a friend went to a comics store, and she was looking for a comic for her five-year old. And Darwyn Cooke’s art is pretty and cartoony, right, so she said, um, maybe this? And the comic store owner said, “Hey, this would be great! Gratuitous death, lots and lots of characters most of whom aren’t even properly introduced, incomprehensible plot largely composed of fan scruff, apocalyptic imagery at the end — your kid’ll love it!” So,anyway, my friend looked at it a bit more closely when she got home and cursed the comics store owner and gave it to me.
And I read it because I’m the core demographic, right? I even know who the Challengers of the Unknown are, and I sort of know who the Losers are because they got killed off right at the beginning of Crisis on Infinite Earths just like they get killed off right at the beginning of this. And I know that super-heroes were black-listed in the 50s because it happened in Watchman and in Wild Cards and in Dark Knight, except that wasn’t in the 50s I guess, and also in Golden Age which was an Elseworlds series I never read, but some critic said that New Frontier is like a total revamp of the Elseworlds concept, like you’ll never look at Elseworlds the same again. This time you’ll look at it with the new, fresh, innocent eyes of an Alzheimer afflicted vulture hungrily eying its own decaying scrotum. Oh, wait, that is in fact how you looked at it before. But, no, this is different, see because there’s a timeline, so that Darwyn Cooke introduces each character exactly when they appeared in real life. So, like, the Flash first appeared in 1956, so that’s when he shows up in the comic! And the Martian Manhunter first appeared in…well, whenever he first appeared…and that’s when he shows up too! It’s like going back into the past and pretending that the kids who read the comics back then were as mature and smart as the aging, paunchy, con-goers of today!
I also liked that Cooke chose to make the central character Hal Jordan, who is a young, strapping fighter pilot with daddy issues. Even though he joined the army he doesn’t like to kill, but that doesn’t make him a pacifist, no, no, no…it just means he knows the Korean War is wrong, though he never explains why, exactly, because that doesn’t matter…what matters is that he totally proves his bravery and comes of age and fills his daddy’s shoes and does it while being only slightly more bland than Tom Cruise. And, hey, there’s Batman being all hyper-competent and grim and the Flash running and thinking about Iris just like in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Superman giving a noble speech and J’ohnn J’ohnnz discovering the innate goodness of humanity buried deep in the psyche of some random special-ops asshole, who has a heart of gold, causing you to say, hey look! There’s gold in that there asshole! I guess you’ve just got to keep digging. And there’s also gold in some asshole called Flagg, who gets killed along with his requisite attendant supportive female. And there are a billion cameo appearances by a billion unexplained DC walk-ons, because the best part of fan-fic isn’t exploring relationships or putting your own twist on a character, but just making a checklist so that you can say, ayup, I mentioned every single one of those characters, by gosh. Oh yeah, and there’s a villain called the Center, who is an eldritch evil disguised as a community youth building. So, hey, what more do you want? The doofy, unpretentious heroes of your grandpappy’s youth have been transmuted into the doofy, pretentious heroes of your own middle-age. Sing hosannas and whip out the Eisners; everything young is senescent again.
You can see the rest of this roundtable on kids comics here.
Update: And more on New Frontier here.