Of his many contributions he is perhaps best known for his revamp of DC Comics characters, Catwoman (working with Ed Brubaker) chief among them. He also worked on comic adaptations of Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels and on a prequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen.
DC co-publisher Dan DiDio said in a statement reported by USA Today:
“He was both compassionate and combative, approaching everything he did with a tenaciousness and temerity that is now unheard of in a world afraid to offend. This is an industry-wide loss that I feel personally, but the sadness is mitigated in the knowing that the beauty and grace of his art will forever stand the test of time and be a monument to all that is great about comics.”
Of his signature style, the L.A. Times writes:
“His work was ingrained with a sense of humanity and wonder pulled directly from his signature retro-touched style [of] fat, black lines, V-shaped men and hourglass cut women [that] fill each page with nostalgic charm and bold visuals … His style and taste … sound like a golden trumpet through the DC Comics catalog. It was loud, daring and it heralded hope.”
Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier may be his most exemplary work (also adapted into a animated direct-to-video film in 2008). It combines a deep knowledge of the DC universe with a strong sense of hope and justice and showcases his trademark style, as he imagines the Golden Age DC characters such as Superman and Batman meeting the Silver Age characters such as Green Lantern and Flash, creating new stories and pairings while reaching deep into the DC backfile. This approach, practiced frequently by other comics and comic films, is particularly well handled by Cooke.
The best tribute is Cooke’s work itself. Below is a feature on the art in DC: The New Frontier.