Pick of the Week

October 17, 2012 – Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 8.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Darwyn Cooke
Colors by Phil Noto
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Darwyn Cooke, Steve Rude, & Glenn Whitmore

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

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.

Josh Flanagan
You see anything funny around here, Mister Comedian?


  1. Amazing book. Every page hit like a sledgehammer.

  2. This and Hawkeye were my favourites this week. Minutemen 4 had me feeling uneasy and on-edge from start to finish, much like the original watchmen book. It just gets better each issue. When I finished reading this issue it made me respect the comic medium a little more because I have never felt uneasy like that whilst reading a comic. Just shows the level of emotions that can be conveyed through art and writing instead of moving image and sound.

  3. I have struggled with the dark content a bit, especially relating to kids but Cooke does seem to be building to a larger point here. I don’t know which book was better, this or Hawkeye #3, but in the end Hawkeye was my pick because I was able to enjoy it more.

    Still, the only really worthwhile books coming out of Before Watchmen, for my money, are the two Darwyn series. As a fan of Mr. Cooke I was a little nervous coming in but if he can stick the landing on both I think he can walk away having accomplished two stories that can stand apart with value of their own.

  4. Great pick Josh. This is the only BW title I’m picking up in singles, and I have loved every issue. This was a really dense chapter, I kept thinking it was going to end, but there were more pages. Cooke managed to keep pushing and pulling on my emotions the entire issue, very heavy stuff, it was masterfully executed.

  5. Good job Josh. a fine choice, indeed. my pick as well. i’ve been very happy with the BW books thus far, especially this one.
    it’s funny, i was just thinking, right before reading this today, that these BW books haven’t received that much attention here and after reading this issue, it would have been a crime to ignore it.
    i think i’ll name my next son Darwyn 🙂

  6. Hawkeye 3 was really awesome too, but i understand why you picked this.

  7. Aw, no three-peat for Hawkeye? Granted, I haven’t read any of the Before Watchmen so I couldn’t tell you if it was good or not, but Hawkeye made my shitastic day a little less so.

  8. Really cool to read this just before I read the issue and was just thinking none of the BW books have made pick of the week and hope one will. I happen to be reading them all and this one is the one I am most interested as well, I also thought and still think all of the BW titles have started off slowly and gotten better each issue,so here’s hoping that continues and goes out with a bang.

  9. My pick too. Hawkeye was good, but wasn’t no Godzilla: The Half Century War. And Godzilla ain’t got shit on Darwyn Cooke and this Minutemen story he’s telling. Alan Moore is a great writer, but he can kiss my grits for being a selfish prick not wanting me to have this story.

  10. Godzilla: half century war #3 was my pick, just edging out Wonder Woman #13.

  11. So Josh, do you like any of the other Before Watchman books? Hinted at, but kinda hard to tell. I’ve stayed with Ozymandias (which astounds me every issue), I’ll get Minuteman and Silk Spectre in trade.

    • Not really. I liked Silk Spectre, but missed an issue and didn’t follow up.

    • @Josh- have you been reading the other BW books? I was under the impression that you hadn’t read past the first issue of most of these, some you hadn’t read at all. It would be unfair to say you don’t like something based on only reading one issue. Or no issues.

    • @Juhl75: It’s not unfair to say that you don’t like something after having read one issue.

    • Well he didn’t like issue 1 of Minutemen, and now it’s pick of the week.

    • @Juhl75: He didn’t dislike it. He just didn’t love it.

    • Some people I know didn’t like Scalped, dropped it but eventually they gave it more of a fair shot and it became one of their favorite comic of all time. I get that some weren’t going to give these books a fair shot and that is alright. In my opinion people should give more than one issue a go in these stories. They all seem to be picking up steam and the art is amazing. to each his own…just making a suggestion to other readers, try more than just issue 1 for these books.

    • You are right, he only said he didn’t love the first issue. Though I think most will agree with Josh that this issue was damn good.

    • Stop talking about me like I’m not here.

    • The jig is up!

    • There he is! Hello Josh! Well I will leave it at this: I love all the Before Watchmen books, especially Minutemen, and I am very excited that you finally made one pick of the week. Thank you! Can’t wait to listen to the show tonight. You all are entertaining to listen to and you kick ass…even Paul, when he is on.

  12. So is it still inconsequential?

  13. Great, he made me feel like i was next in line at the grave to mourn. so sad. And telling the back story of the murdered couple after their deaths made it even more sorrowful. Also giving the Comedian and Sally, (two characters i had previously just hated) their moment was amazing. I still hate them but now mourn that part of them too. Definitely pick of the week.

  14. It is interesting that when Before Watchmen started, I was dead set on buying every issue, but as time has passed, I’m getting less and less enthusiastic.

  15. The way they’re structured and the lackadaisical release schedule has made my enthusiasm for the books dwindle — and it wasn’t high to start with.

    But I love all the creators involved, so I’ve been picking htem all up and will read each as a completed story, the way I read Watchmen. I have no doubt that Minutemen is going to be spectacularly crafted, for instance. Or that Rorshach and Comedian will be witty and nuanced. Or that Ozymandias will be beautiful (and, I hope, narratively ornate at least, smart at best). Or that Doctor Manhattan and Nite Owl will be emotionally manipulative and a bit saccharine (not necessarily a bad thing, all the time).

    • Maybe I’m misreading you, but I don’t know how you can say that the series release structure has been lackadaisical. Every week has seen one Before Watchmen release since June, which is pretty impressive when you consider the reputation of some of the creators involved. I’m pretty sure all of them have been released in their intended order too. I can see how if you’re not reading them now, it could look a little confounding though.

      I guess what I’m saying is qualitative and existential questions aside, you gotta give DC credit for making the trains run on time.

  16. This book must have been insane for Josh (of all people) to pass on Hawkeye #3, which was the most fun I’ve ever had reading a single-issue comic.

    No, seriously, EVER.

  17. Excellent pick. I couldn’t agree more.

  18. This is definitely the best issue of this series so far. It’s sort of been a slow boil, but we’re in it now, aren’t we? Cooke has been very faithful to the source material while expanding on it and giving these character depth.

  19. That last panel… my God! Hooded Justice. I’ve read Hawkeye too and thought it was a great issue but Minutemen 4 just has the edge.

  20. An exceptional issue and easily my Pick of the Week as well.

    It takes a certain type of talent to craft an issue this emotionally compelling and truly powerful. This issue reminds me of just how amazing comics as a medium can be.

  21. This was issue where the “follow Cooke no matter what” paid off. I really don’t know what else there is to say. I think I sighed turning every page by the time we got to Ed talking to Sally. I never wanted this issue to end. The shells kept hitting that beach and that mountain. Spraying sand everywhere. I don’t know if I was overwhelmed at that moment, but I must if blinked too many times as if that sand found its way to my eyes.
    God damn it! I think I just cried.

    (This is what happens when I have too much rum in me belly and I hit the site)

  22. Am enjoying BW in the following order: silk spectre, minutemen, Rorschach, ozy, nite owl, dr man, comedian. Awaiting Moloch!

  23. This series is the coolest thing since Seven Soldiers.

    • Man, did I dig Seven Soldiers! A wonderfully weird epic told in a very different way! Even cooler to read them in the collections because you catch a lot of subtleties that might have gotten missed in the shipping time!

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