Hello, my friends. We’re back to discover and look at those bonus materials that our favorite home video line has provided us outside of the main stories. Welcome back to another entry in…
This time around, we’re not looking at animated movies on DVD & Blu-Ray or shorts posted on YouTube. For the first time ever on this blog, we’ve got an actual comic book review. Even better, it’s set within the universe of a film that served as the subject of my second-ever review. It’s back to the Silver Age of Comics for us as we dive into…
Published in May 2008, this one-shot comic provided some extra adventures within the universe of the film “Justice League: The New Frontier”. Darwyn Cooke, who wrote the six-issue mini-series “DC: The New Frontier” (which served as the film’s adaptation material), returns to write up the multiple stories within the comic. For those who wish to check out my review of the home video line’s sophomore outing, click the link to check it out. In the meantime, let’s observe what extra adventures lie within this particular book.
Following a quick introduction from a time-travelling genius named Rip Hunter…
…we open on our first story “The Greater Good” where in 1955, Superman and Wonder Woman are just off the coast of Paradise Island aboard Bruce Wayne’s boat. It turns out that they’re meeting King Faraday who tells them about their attempts to round up vigilante heroes after all costumed crusaders were shut down by the U.S. Government. With Batman having escaped capture, he wants the two superhumans to go after the elusive figure. However, Wonder Woman refuses to take part in the manhunt since she doesn’t see any good coming out of trying to capture “an honorable man in the name of freedom and security”. As such, she takes her leave.
Later, Superman meets up with President Eisenhower at Mount Rushmore. Supes says that he’s been questioning the government’s pursuit of Batman despite his vigilante activities actually being helpful in turning Gotham City into a better place. However, President Eisenhower says that this is about the needs of a nation and not just a city. He’s also unwilling to let a vigilante run around and violate a law that he himself passed. The scene ends with him telling Superman to go after Batman by order of the president.
We then have a quick scene where over in Metropolis, Lex Luthor has called the authorities to let them know that “the stone” has been stolen from his vault. In Gotham City, we find out that it was Catwoman who snatched it. Upon her hearing that trouble was coming Batman’s way, he receives the precious stone which turns out to be kryptonite. Side Note: He would reference this moment in the film when he tells the noble alien named J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter that he’s trusts him, but that he also has “a $70,000 sliver of radioactive meteor to stop the one from Metropolis. With you, all I need is a penny for a book of matches”.
And so, Batman sets his plan into motion as he lures Superman to a junkyard with a Bat-Signal. Upon the Man of Steel’s arrival, the Caped Crusader fires a small missile from the Batmobile. As expected, Superman easily dodges it. However, he hops right into the actual trap as a large amount of toxic styrene foam comes out and encases him in it. As the missile explodes to send a pile of wrecked cars down on his target, Batman speeds off knowing that it won’t do the job.
As expected, Superman breaks out of the hardened foam and proceeds to fly after the Dark Knight. Batman manages to blind him with an oil slick as he speeds into the Bat Cave. Meanwhile, Supes ends up crashing his way inside before recovering to continue the pursuit. Due to some motorcycle sounds playing from various areas of the cave and the walls covered in lead paint, Superman ends up finding it difficult to locate his target.
On Batman’s command, his butler Alfred actives a piercing sonic blast that not only penetrates Supes’ ears, but also swarms him with numerous bats. The Dark Knight then rides in on a motorcycle and fires some bolas to tie him up, along with a piercing kyptonite dart. With Superman continually weakened, Batman drags him further into the cave towards a specialized containment unit before the Man of Steel manages to munster up the strength he needs to free himself.
Fortunately, Wonder Woman arrives in time to bring this vicious conflict to an end. She scolds both of them for wanting to turn on each other at the behest of the government. In particular, Superman for basically becoming the president’s own personal lapdog and Batman for actually willing to kill Supes in order to avoid capture. She states that they should come up with a plan in order to get the government off their backs.
Batman starts to forge a level of trust with each other by removing his cowl and reveal his identity to them. As such, they effectively end their squabble and unite as one.
And so, the first story ends with an epilogue where Superman and Batman fake a fight and the Man of Steel feigns his defeat. Wonder Woman narrates that when the proper time comes, they’ll stand together for the right cause.
We then move into our next story “Dragstrip Riot” where we begin with a narration from the inaugural Robin himself, Dick Grayson. Over the course of many days, some explosives have been stolen from numerous construction and blast sites. To him, all signs are pointing towards a gang of “street rodders” that drove into Gotham one week ago, led by a thief named Butch Luchick. With Batman out of town for a few days, he sees this as the perfect opportunity to prove himself.
Using one of Bruce’s muscle cars, Dick Grayson makes his way to the street gang where they’re having illegal street races. Originally there to get some information, he finds himself in a race with a street tough named Wally Wood (a nod to the comic writer/artist who co-created Power Girl). As their race begins, we learn that Butch tampered with Wood’s car and secretly inserted some explosives in his vehicle. As such, Wally’s speedster explodes as the car starts flipping towards a cliff. Dick jumps out of his vehicle to go check up on his opponent, only to find out that he’s no longer inside. Butch then tells everyone in the area that it’s time to clear out before Dick dives away in time as Wally’s car lets out its final explosion.
With Butch carelessly leaving his gal behind, he manages to escape. Dick recovers and learns from Butch’s girl, Crystal, that she was supposed to meet up with him at the KZZX radio transmitter since some bigger plans are going down there. Suddenly, the cops start to close in on the area. Dick has her take his car in order to escape as he runs into the woods, gets into his Robin costume and speeds off from the fuzz on a motorcycle.
Later, Robin arrives at the radio transmitter only to find Butch and Adam already tied up and gagged. Just then, he’s approached by the one responsible for their capture, Wally West a.k.a. Kid Flash (I guess Wally Wood was his guise name, maybe). The young speedster says that the two goons had sold off the explosives to some foreigners at a nearby airfield. With Robin remembering what Crystal said about there being “fireworks at midnight”, our two heroes waste no time in trying to prevent the upcoming disaster from happening.
Within a very short time, Robin and Kid Flash arrive at an airfield that turns out to be a refueling station for Air Force One. It turns out that a trap has been set as the plane is meant to trip a wire that will set off the explosives and kill the President. With Air Force One seconds away from its doom, Kid Flash manages to find some fuel, spill it on the ground in a certain way, and ignite it in order to give the pilots a message, “Uncool”. He then tells Robin that the actual grounds crew has been killed off and the radio tower has been taken over by a group of armed goons. Fortunately, out heroes easily defeat the thugs (who turn out to be Communist Saboters) as Air Force One sees the message and avoids landing.
And so, the story ends with Robin back in the Bat Cave writing up the last remaining details of his recent venture. It turns out that he and Kid Flash were gracefully thanked by President John F. Kennedy and has christened them as the Teen Titans.
We then open on our final story titled “The Mother Of The Movement” where in this moment in 1962, Wonder Woman and Black Canary (though mainly Wonder Woman) successfully concludes a fight against a group of villainous thugs. Wonder Woman proceeds to comment about the sexist nature of men, evening finding a Playboy-like magazine among the recently-beaten goons as she’s appalled by the sight of women dressing themselves as sexy bunnies to order to please men in clubs. Black Canary mentions that Gotham City is getting a brand new club soon, prompting Wonder Woman to go teach the male patrons a lesson.
We then cut to Gotham City as our heroines arrive at the men’s club with Wonder Woman being the only one of the two to wear formal clothes while Black Canary wears her normal superhero outfit. In a hilarious moment, they spot Bruce Wayne among the patrons as he pretends to only be there under investigation, prompting him to take his leave.
Upon the announcement that they’ll serve up a huge cake with actress Jayne Mansfield popping out of it, Wonder Woman has finally had enough. She heads backstage and tosses Jayne away from the cake as she changes into her superhero outfit in order to finally deliver her message.
As the cake is placed onto the stage, Wonder Woman pops out and proceeds to deliver her anti-sexism message. Naturally, the male patrons aren’t interested in being lectured while having a night on the town as they proceed to boo and throw their glasses at her. As such, Wonder Woman and Black Canary proceed to leap off the stage and beat up the male crowd in the space of a single panel.
The enraged host responds by throwing his alcoholic drink at Wonder Woman, while also using his lighter to set it on fire. Thanks to her Amazonian prowess, she’s uninhibited by the attack as she nonchalantly removes her flaming chestpiece and smacks the guy with it. And so, the comic ends with our heroines taking their leave as it turns out that famed feminist Gloria Steinem is among the cheering bunnies.
Out of all three stories, only the first story takes place within the original narrative. This helps Batman know that he doesn’t have to be alone when it comes to crime-fighting & can rely on the super heroic help of others, Superman is made to grow a spine & not blindly follow orders from the government’s higher-ups (unlike the alternate universe in “The Dark Knight Returns” initially), and Wonder Woman shows why she’s the middle ground of DC’s Trinity. She won’t reduce herself into becoming the government’s lapdog, since she returned to Paradise Island following the Indo-China incident where she indirectly helped female Vietnamese prisoners kill their captors, and convinces both sides to focus their efforts on working together towards a better tomorrow. After all, it would take a crisis of global proportions for both the superheroes and the U.S. Military to unite as one in order to learn how to work with each other. Meanwhile, the other stories serve as bonus tales that take place after the events of the main story. Robin, who was introduced to Superman since Batman wants to prove to society that he intends to “scare criminals, not children”, gets his moment in the sun alongside Kid Flash. It would be another four years following this event before they ultimately join forced with Aqualad and Wonder Girl to become the inaugural Teen Titans, so it’s nice to see an adventure that helps lead to the group’s formation, thanks to the imagination of Mr. Cooke. Meanwhile, the final story does take a humorous poke at sexism and the ridiculous extreme Wonder Woman goes through to try and deliver her message in a not-so-peaceful way while Black Canary just goes along to help out when she can. Nice touch with quick appearances from Jayne Mansfield and Gloria Steinem. Also, it’s no coincidence that Cooke included the famed feminist at the end. After all, she read Wonder Woman comics growing up and is credited as a key factor towards the character’s restoration of her powers and iconic outfit.
After all, our favorite Amazonian was used on the cover of Ms. Magazine, the very first issue even.
Overall, this is a well-done addition to an already stellar story. The first tale adds an extra story for the main narrative that shows our favorite threesome overcoming governmental pressure in order to forge a Trinity that can inspire humanity towards the greater good. The other two stories are nice bonuses serving as a vision for what’s to come in the many years ahead, from a youthful team that will face numerous adventures to a constant problem that future females look to endure and overcome. Either way, this is a wonderful tale from the always awesome Darwyn Cooke. If you find a copy, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Justice League (created by Gardner Fox) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.