Before Watchmen: Minutemen Issue 1 review

Cover of Issue 1, showing Nite Owl holding the key to the city

Well, the day is finally here. For all intents and purposes, “Watchmen 2” has arrived. Feels weird doesn’t it? This is a day that many people have feared, and a few people have been looking forward too. I would fit myself into the latter group, confident in DC that they wouldn’t screw up. They had brought on some talented writers and artists, as well as delving into some interesting stories. This is the biggest thing DC’s done in a long time, I think even overshadowing the New 52 reboot from last September. Before Watchmen is the collective name for several series of comic books detailing the world portrayed in the award winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. These series are Minutemen, Rorschach, Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and a one shot Epilogue to finish it all off. And like I said, DC has hired some amazing talent, such as Darwyn Cooke, Joe Kubert, J. Michael Straczynski, Jae Lee and many more. So let’s not delay any further. Let’s delve into Minutemen #1!

Hollis Mason feeling a little nostalgic

Let me just get this out of the way: issue 1 of Minutemen is a great start to Before Watchmen, so for all you naysayers, you may want to be a little open minded to the fact that this could actually be a good idea. People have been telling me over and over again, “There’s no more story!” They’ve already covered everything!”. And to that I say “bullshit.”. There’s literally dozens upon dozens of stories mentioned in Watchmen that weren’t expanded upon, not to mention all the ones that weren’t mentioned at all. The world of Watchmen is ripe with tales to tell, and this issue of Minutemen kicks things off very nicely indeed.

Issue 1 starts Minutemen how you might expect it too: a very quick overview of how the individual members of the team all came together. The issue starts with Hollis Mason writing a draft of his book, “Under the Hood”, which was featured heavily in the original Watchmen graphic novel, snippets of which were shown at the end of each issue. Hollis then proceeds to tell individual vignettes of each member of the Minutemen: Hooded Justice, Silk Spectre, Mason himself; Nite Owl, The Silhouette, Mothman, Dollar Bill, and Captain Metropolis: the hero to first bring up the idea of forming a team.

Each story has it’s own purpose, with Hooded Justice being the first hero, a glimpse of the Comedian’s sociopathic tendencies, and the staged bank heists Silk Spectre would foil to get on the front pages. My favorite story actually details Mothman, showing how his doubt and fear that he would one day plummet to his death whilst donning his flight suit led to his drinking habits, and as we eventually realize in Watchmen, insanity.

Darwyn Cooke’s writing style invokes a lot of Alan Moore, with lengthy narration, in addition to all the hidden meaning you could ask for. It brings us right back into that world, making you feel at home with the characters. What is very different from Watchmen is the art style. Whilst Dave Gibbon’s drawings were extremely detailed, Cooke has a more simplistic take that still invokes the ’80’s look of comics. What helps this art style is the coloring, which you can tell from the above image, really does look a lot like Watchmen. It’s a cocktail of the old and the new, making you feel like you’re reading something fresh, whilst also being familiar with the work.

At the end of the issue is also a The Curse of the Crimson Corsair story, that lasts about 2 or 3 pages. Not much is detailed, other than a british sailor leaving on the ship The Pendragon from Liverpool, England. The story is to be continued in Silk Spectre #1.

All in all, I find comfort in the fact that DC seems to be treading very carefully when it comes to Before Watchmen. They know the love the fans have for the graphic novel, and only wish to give us more. I look forward to issue 2. In the meantime, pick up issue 1, and check back next week for my review of Silk Spectre #1, which is released June 13th!

Cover of Issue 1 of Silk Spectre, showing many different aspects of Sally Jupiter’s life.

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