The anticipated, controversial, bemoaned, headline-making Before Watchmen begins with it’s first of several mini-series, Minutemen!
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1
Hollis Mason, the former masked adventurer, Nite Owl, is four days into his retirement. Now, it’s time for him to reflect on the past and tell his story. In order, he recounts the heroes that he would later be associated with in the fabled team of heroes, the Minutemen. From the dark and gruesome Hooded Justice, to the PR wonder Silk Spectre, to the psychotic Comedian, to the overly excitable Captain Metropolis, Hollis recounts all their earliest beginnings that he knew of as he prepares to tell the world about the life he lived.
So, here we are… All the controversy will sure to continue full speed ahead now that the four month wait for the Watchmen Prequels has begun. Let me just get my feelings on this out of the way before I start my review proper. When the news came out the only thing I could think of to say was “What took DC this long?” This would be an answer I would eventually get straight from the original Watchmen’s editor, Len Wein, but if anyone ever thinks that anything owned by any company is sacred, I kinda have to feel those people are naive at best and just south of silly at worst. The idea of revisiting these characters intrigued me. I’m not one who will think that Watchmen will forever be soiled by this decision of DC. In fact, it might remind me exactly how great the original was, but if I was intrigued and willing to part with the money, why not try it out? I’ll let the actual stories take a chance to be good or bad on their own. If, as a whole, it doesn’t work, well that’s no skin of Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons’ teeth. If they are enjoyable, or even *gasp* good, then hooray for me for checking them out.
Okay, so now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actual review. The funny thing about this review is that there’s really not much to say about it. It is entirely reintroducing the readers to the original Minutemen who patrolled the streets of New York from the 40s through the 50s and into the 60s. Some are only briefly touched upon in the original work so there was room for writer and artist Darwyn Cooke to play with. Overall, there’s not a great deal of plot, just exposition. However, I can say it did do two things.
First, it brought me back into this world. There’s a grit to it and even, in spite of Cooke’s unique way of drawing characters in a style that seems smooth and slightly two-dimensional (in good ways – like cartoons) there’s a real organic feel to the panels. Cooke always has a way to take us back to comics of old, and he certainly got the right title to take us back to the earliest days of mystery men. No one can possibly dislike this book if they are already a fan of Darwyn Cooke. They can hate the idea and bemoan the evil corporate plan to continue telling Watchmen stories, but if they are a fan of Cooke’s work, it will be a game changer for many on the fence. Secondly, Cooke pours some emotion into the book. He captures the essence of Mason’s life after the adventuring. He also adds some extra depth to Silhouette’s character and creates a mood around her that is warmer and more heartbreaking than Moore’s colder exposition of how truly awful the world was. I’m not saying it’s better, just different and helps connect the audience to a character that is a little more interesting than her other hardly-known colleagues.
On top of all this, we get the first of Len Wein and John Higgins’ Curse of the Crimson Corsair that tells the tale of ruthless justice on the high seas. It’s short, but sweet and certainly pulls in the feel of the Black Freighter subplot in the original.
Generally speaking, Minutemen #1 isn’t going to blow the doors off anything. It’s subdued to help us get back into the mood of the world The Watchmen existed in. It might disappoint some expecting more of a bang, but this, honestly, was probably the best way to kick off the event.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Darwyn Cooke’s story is fairly touching in the right spots. His art is pitch perfect for this particular miniseries.||Not terribly exciting, but does what it needed to at the bare minimum and that might just be what this whole thing needed most.|