Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Booknote: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre

I read the four volumes of the Before Watchmen series. Over the next few days, I will review each one, but first let me give some of my initial impressions of the series as a whole. From what I read, it seems the authors and artists are trying to stay close to the original Watchmen graphic novel. The results do vary from volume from volume, some better than others. The stories overall lead into the original work. Much of the story is what readers already know from reading the work by Moore and Gibbons. However, these prequels do flesh out some elements of the characters, so I think fans of Watchmen may find them interesting or at least worth a look. Yet I think that fans may measure these against the original and find them wanting. In the end, the authors do have some big shoes to fill. Each volume features two major characters and story lines.

I began with the following volume:

Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre. New York: DC Comics, 2013. ISBN: 9781401238926.

The first story in this volume is that of the rise and fall of the masked adventurers known as the Minutemen. Hollis, who years later is writing an autobiography and tell-all book from his years as the first Nite Owl, frames the story. Hollis book is shaping to be an expose, and the Minutemen have a lot of dark secrets they would rather remain buried. The story runs back and forth from the 1960s, Hollis' present day, to the 1930s, the heyday of the Minutemen. The masks, as the heroes are often known, have their motives and reasons for joining the team. Yet it is their secrets and sins that will tear them apart. Some are perceived sins; others are truly dark transgressions.

The second story in this volume is Laurie's story. She is Sally Jupiter's daughter, and she carries the burden of having an embittered, dysfunctional mother In a rebellious moment, Laurie runs off to California, but she finds that she can't get away from her fate to become the second Silk Spectre when she sees injustice and people in need.

These are two stories that set up the original Watchmen, which is what the series is designed to do. Like the original, other materials such as pieces of poetry and other literature are mixed in to add a bit more detail. Of the two stories in this volume, the Minutemen story is the one that offers the most depth. Their secrets, virtues, and shortcomings are exposed, leading us to ask what makes a hero, a question present throughout the series.

For this volume, I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure note: I read this volume via NetGalley, provided in exchange for an honest review. Thus we appease The Man once more

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