According to a post by his family, Darwyn Cooke has just died, at age 53, after a short fight with cancer. His work was clean, hopeful, moving, and perfectly balanced between framing action and highlighting character. From his work on the Parker graphic crime novels, to his own "New Frontier" Justice League, dark and light still came out feeling, well, somewhere we could live in style.
In recent months, DC offered alternative covers to its regular comics from Cooke; these covers brought into high relief the cheer that the age Cooke so loved – of Jet Age and Googie design, of short ties, porkpie hats, and cateye glasses – even as we live with "gritty, realistic" in superhero comics today. For example, one of Cooke's covers showed Superman and Batman not in a "v" death struggle, but relaxing and smiling after they'd defused a bomb together.
To his credit, Cooke did not paper over the problems and inequalities of the times he represented, making text rather than subtext the struggles of women and non-white populations. It was in some ways a patch job, but one in the right direction.