Dark and seedy underbelly of the Minutemen rises to the surface!
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2
Hollis Mason, the retired costumed adventurer known as Nite Owl, has written his memoirs that is going to lift the veil of what really went on when he was working with the Minutemen. After making the team, the Minutemen go on their first assignment to stop what they believe to be Italian Fifth Columnists who were smuggling weapons into the States. However, they find out too late that the supposed weapons were nothing more than smuggled Chinese fireworks. To prevent the mission from becoming a full-blown disaster, Minutemen publicist Larry Shexnayder uses the commotion to claim that what they went after truly was a plot to destroy America from within. Later, as the team continues to operate, members of the team find that Captain Metropolis is really only interested in high profile crimes, and influenced by Larry, decides to snub more important crimes like child pornography and molesters that was important to Silhouette. Also, the personalities within the team are also something that Larry is trying to control – including an illicit affair between Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice. As the motives and lifestyles of each member of the team continues to drive a stake between everyone, Silhouette, Nite Owl, and Mothman do find a boy that had gone missing and suspected of being a victim of a molester and/or pornographer hanging from the rafters placing everything they have been doing in perspective.
While the first issue really did an excellent job of setting the scene, and introducing the characters, for this miniseries, this issue delves much more into the actual life of the Minutemen. It shows a side of the adventuring lifestyle that is not only dark and seedy, but also unfortunately realistic. The real main character of this issue is Larry Shexnayder. Despite being the voice of the narrative, Hollis Mason isn’t much more than one of Larry’s puppets that he uses to grab headlines and feel like a real somebody. Despite how many members of the group care about what they are doing in the group, is this team really doing what they should be doing or are they simply cogs in a wheel spinning someone else’s golden flax?
It’s becoming more clear that this miniseries isn’t going to be about a brief time in the life of the group. Instead, it’s starting to look at pieces of their career both good and bad with the bad ultimately overshadowing any of the good they actually do. We could always read between the lines in the original Watchmen about how these adventurers felt about one another. In some ways Mason and Sally always whitewashed it for their own ends. One opted to look at it as a civic duty and living a life of vitality and usefulness. The other looked back on it as an aging starlet who missed the fame and the ogling. We always knew there were cracks in the relationships and the facade of the Minutemen. This book is exploiting that to show that, in a real world way, the possibility of having a group of heroes that we always see working so well together with only the best intentions in comics can’t possibly really work. Each member is going to have their own agendas and their own ideals about what they should be doing as a team. There would, undoubtedly be someone at the helm like a Shexnayder or a leader like Captain Metropolis that would use the team to grab headlines. In the case of Captain Metropolis, though, it’s more of a sadness that you can see coming from him. He’s a stuffed costume who takes himself and his standing as leader way to serious. Both of these influences spells immediate doom for this team.
When reading these first two books, you can’t help but to come away with feeling of sadness. You are squarely placed in the perspective of Mason. You can see what he sees and know what he knows. Also, you get in that melancholic mood of nostalgia. He loved what he did and he loved those he did it with, but you also hear the old man behind that wishing they could have done more when they had the chance. He’s a true believer even if his best friends weren’t or couldn’t be. That’s really where Darwyn Cooke’s strength is with this issue. He balances that disappointment and nostalgia of Mason’s to weave a story that turns out to be sad. He uses the idea of good intentions only going so far before capitalism takes over. There are still some that would likely disown this whole event, but this is a book that is going to have a solid foundation in the past. In a world that we only see glimpses of in the original, we can delve into more of what that world was like and see why this was inevitably going to lead to adventurers being banned by the government as society expects more out of them and ultimately get nothing more than fluffy headlines. For the open-minded, I think they are going to really enjoy this book.
It’s up to them how much they want it to be canon.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Well told story by Cooke. His art is also perfect for the era in which the story’s told by giving us a more Golden Age feel in an era that can be described as such for this world’s heroes.||Some might rather remember this era as it is in the original instead of actually seeing this darker side.|