The comics world was stunned last May with the passing of creator Darwyn Cooke. Taken from the world too soon, Cooke was a tremendous talent. Everyone recognized that. His stories, his style, his take on the DC Universe, his Parker work ... I could go on and on. He is missed. He is missed by fans and creators.
Superman #8, out this week by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke, is basically a love letter to Cooke. The creative team takes Superman and Superboy and sends them to Dinosaur Island, the opening setting of The New Frontier, the savage land where the Losers met their fate.
And while it is basically a tour of Dinosaur Island, revisiting the Losers and New Frontier, Gleason and Tomasi still inject some nice familial moments between father and son.
I don't know how anyone can critique this issue. As a testimonial to Cooke's work it is wonderful. The art by Doug Mahnke is fantastic. There won't be a grade for this comic. But if you are a fan of Cooke, you should go out and get this.
The issue starts with Clark and Jon working on a Jon's science project in the arctic fortress. The 'flying saucer' they are building begins to fly on it's own, assimilates some crystal technology, and transports Superman, Superboy, and Krypto to Dinosaur Island.
Can I quibble about a testimonial?
Look, I get that this teleporter is a deus ex machina, a device simply there to get the three to the island.
But I have questions. Does this Superman plan to use this Fortress? His mountain one? Both?
Wasn't this Fortress missing at the end of Supergirl #1?
I suppose this is the problem of having had two Superman operating for a while.
Time to move on. Onto the Cooke stuff.
The device teleports them to Dinosaur Island and Superman and Superboy begin to take in the insanity, starting off with a US destroyer split in half.
I love the scope of this panel, the heroes tiny and awed.
And 'we're not in the Arctic anymore' is humorous take on the 'not in Kansas' line. Especially since Superman is from Kansas!
I love that Clark tries to do some teaching with Jon, talking about symbols on tanks and the model of planes on the island. He is teaching, something that reminded me of talking to my dad.
But Clark also tries to shield Jon from some of the horrors of war. There is no reason for Jon to see the decomposed corpses inside this overturned tank.
It is wild and nutty. Jon punches a pterodactyl. Krypto gets momentarily swallowed. Good, old fashioned, Silver Age fun.
This is just a tremendous splash page by Mahnke. Beautiful!
This really is a tour of that chapter of Cooke's New Frontier.
Some of the moments are poignant. Superman finding Capt. Storm's wooden leg is powerful.
But this moment stuck out the most. They find a human skeleton in the bigger skeleton of a T. Rex. The dog tags belong to Johnny Cloud. That is a direct callback to Cooke's opus.
And then the heroes discover the Losers cave headquarters, their story, as seen in New Frontier, is scrawled on the wall.
I loved New Frontier. I loved all of Cooke's work. I am glad his work is being remembered and honored here.
Kudos to the book's creative team and to DC Comics for putting this issue out.