I gave the presentation at the Kansas Writers Association meeting yesterday and my topic was superheroes. One of the graphic novels and animated films I recommended was Justice League: The New Frontier.
I have watched the animated films many times over. I have yet to read the graphic novel (it's on my list, though!) but know enough about it that it covers so many different issues, yet manages to tie them all together into a single theme.
New Frontier touches upon many issues that date back to the 1950's and early 1960's: The Red Scare, McCarthyism, space exploration, U.S. involvement in world affairs, racism and discrimination. The overall theme is how superheroes of different backgrounds, nearly all not trusted by the government, must come together with that government to fight an entity intent on destroying humanity.
The film boils down hundreds of pages of work into a 70-minute film, and like all films, it doesn't cover everything the novel covers. But it's an example of work that still holds up long after its release, and long after the 1950's ended, because many of those issues remain. They have taken different forms but the roots are the same.
None of the characters are said to be "in the wrong" in every circumstance. Even the entity called The Center has a valid argument: Humans have engaged in destructive behavior ever since they came into existence, so how can the earth survive if that behavior continues?
This was one of the points I brought up during the presentation: Superheroes shouldn't start out as being "in the right" while their opponents are "in the wrong." The question to explore is what ultimately determines that the heroes are "in the right." Regarding New Frontier, what determines that is, although the superheroes and government agents have different ideas about how to serve the people, they believe that all life is precious and there will come a day when things will be better. They hold a sense of optimism, difficult as the struggles may be, compared to The Center's outlook that the earth's situation is hopeless if human beings aren't removed from the equation.
For comic book geeks like me, I imagine most of us would agree that New Frontier is excellent material. For anyone who has never picked up a comic book, New Frontier is a good place to start.