Pick of the Week
What did the
Art by Darwyn Cooke
Colors by Phil Noto
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Darwyn Cooke, Steve Rude, & Glenn Whitmore
Size: 32 pages
It was getting close to the point where I didn’t think this was going to happen. We’re almost through the first wave of Before Watchmen books, and they’ve ranged from surprisingly good to no thank you. In fact, I’m not really interested in discussing the political and ethical issues that many are associating with the titles. We here at iFanboy decided long ago to let the books live or die on their own merits, and for the most part, we’ve pretty much ended up in the same place. The vast majority of these prequels have just not felt quite right, like well produced fan fiction. Yet, with each successive issue of Minutemen, I found myself more intrigued, until one of them finally ended up as Pick of the Week.
From the get go, Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen was the one to watch for me. I didn’t actually love the first issue. But I liked the second issue a little more, and the third a little more than that. Back in July, Darwyn told us that he was initially hesitant about doing this series, but then he got an idea that he couldn’t shake, and had to tell the story, and that it would get better and better with every issue, and as you can see, that’s exactly my take on it. Most of the other series felt like they were playing with things they shouldn’t have, but for whatever reason, there was so little detail in the original Watchmen about the Minutemen, that I became incredibly invested this version of their story. We knew so little about the Moth and the Silhouette that this story didn’t bother me. On the contrary, it hooked me. Darwyn got the voices so consistently right that I stopped thinking about this as an ill-advised addendum, and just part of the story.
I still don’t know what they saw at the end of issue #2, and the story is dragging it out. I’m actually dying to know, but the storytelling pace is keeping me coming back. For a little while, I thought I missed something, but that’s also not the point. Silhouette was a completely different kind of character than any of the other “heroes” in the Minutemen, as was Hollis Mason. Byron Lewis, The Moth, wanted to be, but we’ve seen him to be made of lesser stuff. What this issue did best, as I go back through it, was fill in who these people really were. They’re not giving us everything. They’re giving us just enough, and what they are giving us is great. The issue even manages to give us insight into the Comedian and Sally Jupiter, and it makes sense, and fits. It doesn’t feel superfluous. The Comedian isn’t just a jerk. Or he wasn’t always only a jerk. Sally has another side to her. And finally, growing up in a Nazi hospital can really mess you up. I don’t know how Darwyn Cooke managed to get the tone as right as he did, but it simply works, even in concert with the original text.
We give Darwyn Cooke a lot of credit for being good at a great many things. He’s as good a cartoonist as anyone working in comics today. That’s evident. But that overshadows the fact that he’s a full package, and as as good a writer as anyone else. When you give him a period piece, like this story, it’s when he shines. He seems to understand the inner workings of these characters, and more importantly, he can convey that through the art and story, using as little effort as possible. It just all seems so smooth, and polished. Every panel, every line, every word is exactly what it should be. The tone of this story is more grim than most of what Darwyn has put out, but it’s exactly what it needs to be, matching the original Watchmen perfectly. This is just more of that, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m also impressed by it in that, I never really thought of Watchmen as something I’d associate with Darwyn Cooke. Yet he obviously has the chops to pull this off as well.
Say what you will about the Before Watchmen books. A lot of people made up their minds before anything had even been seen, and nothing I say is going to change their minds. I had my own misgivings, and most of them have been born out, but Minutemen has overshot even my expectations. As a comic book reader, the value of something is always going to lay in the thing itself. If the story is good, the story is good. You’re going to want to know what happens next, regardless of what you think of the machinations of the the corporation listed in the masthead. I just really like this story, and I really like this creator, and make no mistake, what Darwyn Cooke is doing is creating. He’s obviously building on the bones of what Alan Moore did before him, just as Moore himself was, and in the end, I believe quality will out, and that’s really all that’s important to me.
You see anything funny around here Mister Comedian?