Today I found out that one of my biggest inspirations, Darwyn Cooke, has passed away. I’m usually not one for grief. I have come to accept that death is a part of life. When I heard the news this morning, it certainly saddened my day. There were numerous posts on various social media about his passing and featured his artwork. This got me remembering about all of the work that he has done that has really colored my view on the comic book medium.
I remember first encountering Cooke’s art through the revamp of Catwoman in the early 2000’s. “The Trail of Catwoman” was running through the backups of the Batman comics at the time. This introduced me to Slam Bradley, a PI, and also Cooke’s interests in noir. This eventually led to the revamped Catwoman title where Cooke drew the first four issues. He also worked on “Selina’s Big Score” an original graphic novel which was set before the Catwoman title. This graphic novel was phenomenal and once again highlighted Cooke’s noir interests and mixed it with a heist. One could easily forget that this was a story set in the DC Universe.
However it all changed for me when introduced to “DC: The New Frontier”. An alternate history of the DC Universe set primarily in the 1950’s but also from the beginning of time. Highlighting the era that he loved about the era but also mixing modern sensibilities into the book as well. Not only did this book contain superheroes but also space faring adventure, intrigue, paranoia, bigotry and mystery. Cooke manages to mix all of these themes together and puts it through the filter of the heroes of the DC Universe. It is the perfect story about the end of the Justice Society of America and the rise of the Justice League of America. Cooke mixed with his beautiful art, the wonder of the superhero.
Cooke largely stayed away from superhero comics for the next years barring his phenomenal run on “The Spirit”. He took to adapting the Richard Parker books that featured the character of Parker. These books are the definition of noir. I only checked out the first adaptation, “The Hunter”. Once again Cooke managed to adapt well to the crime noir but still managed to keep his own unique style.
That was what was great about Darwyn Cooke. He could honor and homage various eras but still stay true to himself. So while am I sad to see such a talent gom I cannot be too saddened. He has left behind a legacy that will inspire people. Is there nothing greater than that?