But I just finished watching Justice League: The New Frontier and I gotta say...it's probably the best superhero animation I've seen in some time.
I'm kind of hooked, I admit. As a kid I always was into comic books but we never had money for trivial things like that. But when things like Batman: The Animated Series or the old 90's X-Men cartoon aired, it was almost the same. Even I could keep up with different heroes and story arcs, and to this day I still check such things out as they're available to me.
Since I'm now on a trial Netflix account, streaming to my PS3, I downloaded a ton of utterly random crap and this JLA show was one of several similar titles. It's a two-or-so-hour long OAV, and it actually does feel a little long. But that's due to how much they try to cram in there. You see the Green Lantern's origin story. Martian Manhunter's, too. The holy trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are already kind of established, but even other mainstays like the Flash are two-bit heroes trying to make names for themselves.
The biggest departure from most such cartoons is that this is set in the years between 1953 and 1960. (And yes, it did immediately make me pine to play some kind of Prohibition Era Hero campaign...) Most of these heroes did get their start in that time period and have since been retconned, but I rather enjoyed seeing Batman driving the old, classic Batmobile rather than the sleek and sexy newer designs. Even Superman had the original black shield, rather than the infamous red-and-gold that is now so iconic.
The time period also plays into the fears of that time as well. Women weren't equals. Blacks were still hated. Even Irish and other immigrants were discriminated against. Everyone was a little on edge about anyone who was different, and with Communism an ever-present fear and McCarthyism in general superhumans were distrusted or downright hated. The various X-titles do this well, but aside from that notable example the spandex-clad boy scouts are usually fairly well received. It's a refreshing change of pace to see people realistically have doubts about their motives or fear their powers.
It's also nice to see this level of violence. Wonder Woman stands idly by and watches as captive women, once freed, murder their former oppressors. Hal Jordan, while fighting in the Korean War, shoots somebody in their FACE. Again comparing this to X-men, the level of violence is usually toned down so low that an animalistic berserker like Wolverine can't use his claws for anything except opening doors. Here, people get killed. People DIE.
But the best part? Aside from NPH playing the Flash, I mean? Superman for once isn't the center of attention. Batman plays a pretty pivotal role but even he's a supporting character to Manhunter. And Hal Jordan above all others seems to be the central thread this entire story revolves around.
The ending was a little weak, but overall, I liked it. I don't think I'd ever have checked it out if not for free, but it was a pretty damn cool little show. (Now, if only there were a Roaring Twenties Hero game I could get involved in...) XD