I know what you are thinking and I had the same thought myself. “A ‘Watchmen’ prequel really should not be happening.” “Alan Moore must be rolling over in his grave” (I understand that he is alive, but I figure that his ornery attitude and hatred for unoriginal ideas would stop his heart). However, DC Comics has allowed the tales of the events that lead up to one of the best selling comics of all time, “The Watchmen” to occur. And so far, its really not so bad.
The series has been split up into several different mini-series’ that will take a look at the origin of each ‘Watchmen’ character. As of now, two parts to the ‘Before Watchmen’ series have hit the shelves of comic book stores worldwide, ‘The Minutemen’ and ‘Silk Spectre’.
Let’s begin with the first. Set in a time before super beings, ‘The Minutemen’ takes place in the year 1939 and allows for a brief, but intimate look into the lives of the original “superhero” team. Written and inked by Darwyn Cooke, “Chapter One: Eight Minutes” (referring to the eight vigilantes that comprise of the team) opens by showing us that our narrator will be Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, through these stories of origin. Cooke, with the help of Hollis, begins by showing the reader the first case of vigilante-ism, the Hooded Justice. They continue to take us through the character list by giving us the origin and back story of more familiar faces. These faces include the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter, Nite Owl himself (Hollis Mason), Edward Blake aka The Comedian, Byron Lewis aka Mothman, Bill Brady as Dollar Bill, Ursula Zandt as The Silhouette, and Nelson Gardner as Captain Metropolis. The ending to ‘The Minutemen’ leaves the reader excited to see what will come from the next installment to the mini-series that aims to familiarize fans with the original cast.
The second comic book on trial….er to be reviewed has just hit store shelves today. Penned once again by Darwyn Cooke and accompanied by writer Amanda Conner, “Silk Spectre” takes a slower, more dramatic look at the dynamic (and often dysfunctional) look at Silk Spectre’s relationship with her daughter, Silk Spectre II. Let’s Clarify. The year is 1966 and the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter (Juspeczyk), now has a daughter by the name of Laurie. The story shows us an interesting look into the life of a superhero’s daughter. With the pressures of High School conflicting with the high expectations of a mother trying to get her daughter to follow in her footsteps, Laurie has been given a chance to allow readers to gain a new perspective of her overall character. Left without much of a cliffhanger ending, ‘Silk Spectre’ still beckons the reader’s anticipation to find out more about how a daughter living in the shadow of her mother can blossom into becoming a member of the famous crime fighting vigilante team, The Watchmen.
Darwyn Cooke has managed take a comic book that has been boycotted by fanboys since its initial inception, and turn it into a pretty good read with fantastic visuals. ‘Before Watchmen’ allows readers to obtain a new appreciation towards our favorite ‘Watchmen’ characters as well as enjoy a more detailed, intimate, and often graphic view of their lives leading up to the events of the original graphic novel.
‘The Minutemen’ and ‘Silk Spectre’ mini series issues will soon be accompanied by comic books dedicated to The Comedian (Edward Blake), Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt), Dr. Manhattan (Dr. Jonathan Osterman), Rorschach (Walter Joseph Kovacs), The Crimson Corsair, and the new Nite Owl, Daniel Dreilberg. Each series will range from 4-6 parts each and have writers such as Brian Azzarello (Wonder Woman, Batman: Broken City). J. Michael Straczynski (The Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four), and long time famous comic book writer Len Wein (X-Men, Swamp Thing) on board to bring new life to the characters we have grown to love.