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A Nostalgic Treat for Silver Age DC Fans...
on February 29, 2008
I admit, I'm a child of the Silver Age of DC Comics! I grew up on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Adam Strange...and especially the Justice League of America. So I admit, "Justice League - The New Frontier (Two-Disc Special Edition)" brought a lump to my throat...it was like being a kid, again!
Based on Darwyn Cooke's remarkable, nostalgic reworking of the birth of the Silver Age heroes during the transitional 1950s, the animated film homages the characters I grew up, loving (especially test pilot/Green Lantern Hal Jordan, the Martian Manhunter, and police scientist/Flash Barry Allen), in the context of the era, a decade of Communist paranoia, McCarthy witch hunts, the birth of the Space Age, and struggle for racial equality. One element Cooke 'lifted' from Frank Miller's "Dark Knight" epic, that of the government ordering superheroes to 'stand down', fits this saga exceptionally well, with Superman as the only 'approved' hero, Batman refusing to, thus becoming a wanted fugitive, and the 'Golden Age' heroes forced into retirement (I was disappointed not seeing more of the JSA, other than in the opening credits, but there are a LOT of characters that DO appear!)
Of course, a new, unstoppable, super-powered villain (the primeval, immortal 'Centre') picks this time to eradicate the human race, quickly knocking Superman out of the battle, and requiring the new generation of heroes, teamed with Batman and Wonder Woman, to save the world.
There are SO many touches I loved! A reworking of Hal Jordan's origin as Green Lantern; the romances of Supes and Lois Lane, Jordan and Carol Ferris, and Barry Allen and Iris West; heroes I hadn't seen in years (the Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks), fighting along side Adam Strange, Green Arrow, Aquaman, and even a pre-Atom Ray Palmer; the superhero 'Air Force', with Wonder Woman's invisible airplane, and the Bat-plane and Arrow-plane. Admittedly, many characters don't get much screen time, but with a cast this large, it is understandable (it would be a problem of the ever-growing JLA of the comics, as well).
I have to mention the voice talent involved, as the casting was dead-on! David (TV's 'Angel') Boreanaz as Jordan, Neil Patrick Harris ('Doogie Howser') as Allen, Kyle ('Twin Peaks') MacLachlan as Superman; Lucy ('Xena') Lawless, a PERFECT Wonder Woman, Kyra ('The Closer') Sedgwick as Lois, Brooke Shields as Carol, Vicki Lewis as Iris...this is truly an all-star affair! Two voice performers deserve special recognition; Miguel Ferrer is exceptional as the Martian Manhunter, combining an alien aloofness with compassion; and Jeremy Sisto has, arguably, the BEST voice for Batman I've ever heard...he really IS the Dark Knight!
While I admit Darwyn Cooke's original story far outshines the film (original stories nearly always do), as someone who only sporadically looks at comics, these days, "Justice League" is a fabulous 'blast from the past'.
Thank you, DC!