Sunday, February 26, 2012

Justice League: New Frontier Animated Feature, Flash & Martian Manhunter Figures!

I finally picked up the Justice League: New Frontier animated feature a couple weeks ago used at V-Stock. I had read the two-part TPB version of Darwyn Cooke's book back in November of 2010, and it blew me away! The retro-styled art, thoughtful character development, and great story made me cheer out loud upon first reading! I was fresh back into reading comics again as an adult, and this book made me glad I was- I felt like a kid all over again  :)

From Wikipedia, on DC: The New Frontier book:
World War II is over and the Cold War has begun. The Age of the Superhero is in decline. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, who survived the anti-hero sentiment of the Cold War, as well as eager newcomers like test pilot Hal Jordan and scientists Barry Allen and Ray Palmer, team up to defeat a threatening alien presence on Earth. The New Frontier is set in 1945, 1948, and 1952-1960. Cameos from the likes of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon, as well as references such as the atomic testing, civil rights movement, and the Soviet Union, are done to give a sense of the era the series is set in. The storyline draws inspiration from the comic books and films of the period, as well as both the novel and film The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. The series attempts a dynamic re-imagining of the era that ushered in the presidency of John F. Kennedy. A major part from one of his speeches is used and the title also invokes John F. Kennedy's use of the term New Frontier.

As is often the complaint when taking a story from a book into motion picture form, much was cut in order to keep it around the 75 minute running time that a lot of these animated films keep. Some sequences were totally cut, and some reimagined to a degree, but the spirit of the book and Darwyn's art were intact. If you have only seen the movie however, you are missing out on a lot of the fleshing out of secondary characters like the Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks. With a rating of PG-13 for violent content/images, this isn't really a children's movie, though I found it tame compared to the book and what a lot of kids are seeing on television and in video games these days.  

I'd got a boxed set of four of the DC Direct action figures designed after Darwyn Cooke's art awhile back, but hadn't shown you some of the other single figures I found from this series, including these most excellent Flash & Martian Manhunter!

The box these these single figures came in is quality- toned down in color to match the retro feel of the books artwork. It's classy & clean, featuring other figures from Series 2 of this line on the verso. I would have liked to see more characters done in Cooke's style, but DC Direct isn't known for extensive series within their action figure lines.

This is one of the best representaions of Barry Allen I've seen in action figure form. DC Direct recently released another great, classic Flash in their Flashpoint series of action figures that has a more realistic styling, but this one has a retro feel I enjoy due to his styling after Cooke's art, and gold highlights and boots. The Kirby-esque fabric stretch lines in his sculpt appeal to my appreciation of Silver-Age comics, and give the figure the illusion of a man in actual cloth bodysuit. The shrinking device designed by Ray Palmer that Barry used to defeat the Centre in New Frontier is represented in detail, secured to the figure's back with soft rubber straps pulled over the shoulders. A nice little accesory that ties into the story the figure was designed after.

New Frontier Flash has the typically limited articulation you find in a DC Direct action figure- he has a ball-jointed head, ball/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows & knees, T-hips, and a swivel at the boot tops. It works just fine. I can't believe it's taken me this long to open him, but I've enjoyed looking at this beautiful figure on my desk recently- his big smile makes me happy  :)

In both the movie and book, J'onn J'onnz asks government agent King Farady if he should take on a friendlier appearance before joining the other heroes battling the invading Centre so as not to be mistaken for the creatures emerging from it's bowels.  When appearing as the caped hero we all know as Martian Manhunter, identifying with another adopted alien hero of Earth, Faraday quips, "Suit yourself, J'onn, but real men wear pants, ya know."

To my delight, J'onn was a main character in Darwyn Cooke's New Frontiers, one of the most fun moments in the book and movie showing the dryly comedic Martian shapeshifting into different characters as he watches television late at night, including Groucho Marx and Bugs Bunny  :D   Somewhat ignorant of this deep and wonderful character as a youth, I clung to Martian Manhunter as a renewed, adult comics fan, once called the most powerful being on the face of the Earth by his friend Superman. He shares a great deal of the Man of Steel's special powers, but is also a powerful telepath, adding an interesting calm and intelligence to J'onn's personality.

New Frontier Martian Manhunter has the same articulation as Flash, but more of a barrel-chested physique. He also sports a smile, which is somewhat rare among my collection of Martian Manhunter figures  :)   The familiar red chest harness, blue collared cape and boots are present, but his black shorts make him unique, and add to the retro-overhaul of this great figure.

I'm a big fan of Mattel's DC Universe Classics, though there is a lot of sameness due to their sharing buck among figure throughout the line. One thing I like about DC Direct is variety throughout the different lines, in both anatomy and styling-  every character doesn't look like a steroid munching body builder. Here are comparison shots of these two New Frontier DC Direct figures with the DCUC Flash and Martian Manhunter:

Flash and Martian Manhunter with the DC Direct New Frontiers boxed set I got back in November of 2010:

*D.C. Comics NewFrontier page!
*Artist Darwyn Cooke's blog (author of D.C. New Frontier)
*Green Arrow figure from this series- had to rescue him, read about it HERE.
More Later- Make It FUN!


  1. I love these figures. The facial expressions and designs are beautiful. This is why I collect action figures - for the sculp and the colors.

    1. we are indeed patrons and students of the art, Kal!

  2. Great animated feature Colin and those group pictures are epic.

  3. I have the movie and the Batman figure. Never realized they all looked awesome. I really want to get them now. And hunt down the graphic novel.

  4. Very cool JLA collection, the classic look is just so awesome!

  5. i got dr fate bought it for 14 euro's now it is 80 or something