There's a reason why John Ostrander is considered one of comics' great writers. His runs on The Spectre and Suicide Squad are nigh legendary. They are examples of some of the best of what comics can offer. To that list of Ostrander's great works I would add a lesser known series: 1997's twelve part saga of Truth, Justice, & the American West.
I'm speaking of The Kents.
The Kents isn't like most books Ostrander's written. And it's not like most of the books DC puts out, either. Maybe it's the historian in me, but I found The Kents' exploration of the most tumultuous time in American history to be something very special.
As the name implies The Kents chronicles a pivotal period in the history of the most important family in the DCU. That, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable. The ethos of the Kent family shaped Kal-El of Krypton into Superman. And that ethos was forged on the plains of "Bleeding Kansas," into the Civil War, and beyond.
Silas Kent is a wealthy Boston printer. But he gives up his family, his security, and ultimately his life for a cause so much greater than himself. A staunch abolitionist, Silas Kent and his sons fight to free millions from the chains of slavery. But he falls to the bullet of a coward and one son -- Nathaniel Kent -- must take up the cause.
And Nathaniel -- who bears a striking similarity to another famous Kent -- struggles through the horrors of the Civil War. In doing so, he suffers heartbreak, betrayal, and discovers that the adage "brother against brother" is all too real.
But despite all the odds, Nathaniel Kent changes the face of Kansas -- and America -- for the better. He lays the groundwork for the moral center that will guide generations of Kents to come.
Some have said that the only one to hold the line until the Golden Age of Heroes was Jonah Hex. But when there was Jonah Hex, there were also The Kents. Without heat vision or super strength, they fought against the greatest evil of American history. They fought for Truth, Justice, and a Better American Way. They fought and won. And like so many real extraordinary ordinary heroes, they changed the world.