Forever Fangirl: Before Watchmen but After Alan Moore

Before Watchmen: Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke

Before Watchmen: Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke

Somewhere, Alan Moore is crying in his scary wizard beard because the idea men over at Dc Comics dared to go through with their plans to create prequels to his ridiculously popular and grim graphic novel masterpiece Watchmen, and comic shop owners world wide are counting the money and laughing evil supervillain laughs. Or, are they? Does anyone really care about the Watchmen anymore or did Dr. Manhattan’s giant blue wang scare everyone away? (I saw the 2009 six times and I just have to say Bravo, Mr. Crudup.) I picked one up at my local comic shop, almost specifically because Alan Moore can suck it.  But let’s see if I spent my $3 wisely, or if I wasted my money on a pointless and petty gesture.

First off, this book is pretty to look at, but that’s to be expected when the writer is also the artist. There have been times when I read a book and looking at the art it is literally like the writer said, “See if you can draw this, Mr. Oh-So-Special-Artist.” Or maybe, that’s just my experience as a writer. Anywho, I digress, and why, do I get off topic so easily? Well, because quite frankly, there’s not much going on in this book. Narrated by the Original Nite Owl (Hollis Mason, the old guy who is murdered by the young thugs in both the graphic novel and the movie) this first book is really just a role call of the original group of superheroes to appear in the late 1930s.

This is the first incarnation of the group that we’re familiar with, and let’s be honest, you can’t really call yourself a comic reader if you haven’t read Watchmen.  One by one, Hollis, at this time a police officer who moonlights as a ‘masked adventurer’  introduces us to the people we only saw dead or very very old in the original story.

Hooded Justice, the masked vigilante who, when presented with the ‘dead or alive’ option, has no problem with choosing the former. Sally Jupiter, the first Silk Spectre, a media darling fighting staged acts of crime for publicity. Here we see sixteen year old Edward Blake, a troubled young thug who would grow up to be the immoral Comedian. Mothman, Bryon Lewis, just at the beginning of his descent into alcoholism and drug addiction. Dollar Bill Brady, another publicity creation, and The Silhouette, a victim of Nazi cruelty, and shockingly, a lesbian, which will have more significance later, I’m certain. Lastly, we meet Captain Metropolis who brings together the group with the idea of uniting these people, from the well meaning to the power hungry in an attempt to create a team who will change the world. But, it’s the last player in this game who will really do the changing, though he is only hinted at in the beginning of this story. Dr. Manhattan is the missing piece, and when he clicks into place, the whole picture will be revealed.

Or so we’re promised.

Right now, we’re just given a primer, and frankly, I’m a little disappointed. While it does make sense to do it this way, this doesn’t really give me hope that there will be excitement here. The original graphic novel opens with death and handles the intros in flashbacks or in exciting moments. Cooke attempts the latter by showing these masked adventurers in action, but honestly, it’s just too little development and too much learning by lecture. Comics is a medium where the picture is just as much, if not more, important as the words, and Cooke’s simplistic and blocky style isn’t enough to bring me back on its on merits. I’m going to admit, I’m probably going to keep reading this, mostly because I dislike Alan Moore as a person, and as I said, I’m petty, but also because Watchmen was an important comic, and yes, naysayers, there is such a thing. It might mean nothing, but then again this Before Watchmen stunt might actually add something to the already very rich tapestry woven so well…

Or it could end up like the Star Wars prequels. Let’s just hope Nite Owl doesn’t turn out to be another Jar Jar.

Included, as a clear homage to the pirate story “Tales of the Black Freighter,” Minutemen includes it’s own pirate tale “The Curse of Crimson Corsair: The Devil in Deep” by Len Wein with art by John Higgins, which I care about as much as I cared about in the original… In other words, I’ll skip it. It probably means something, but I’m just not that bright.

In the end, it’s six issues, the other five hopefully having some more action. If not though, hell, $18 is well spent to annoy that furry curmudgeon who can bastardize the creations of others but still thinks his words are sacrosanct.

Before Watchmen #1 The Minutemen was written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted June 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    about Raw Shark: I’m not sure the bum is gone. Look at the isn’t that a bent knee of someone wenarig jeans propped against the wall? Also, it’s not a bum if someone’s lying on the ground in an alley Rorschach is just leaving, odds are he was put there by R.Also, with all due honor to Mr. Gibbons’ wonderful anatomy, his Rorschach was normal proportions, while the movie actor presumably has real actual short person proportions, or at least movie actor proportions. And looser trousers.If to nitpick, where is the geodesic dome and the electric car?There are also issues with the amount of detail in art, you can subtract a lot of detail, only draw the dramatic shadows, etc. In movie, even if CGI, you have to build all this in 3D, and you can’t skip the rendering or the lightning, which does force them to make changes in composition.Like, Nite-Owl. This is perhaps a historical moment, the first case I remember when a superhero costume in the movie looks cooler than in the comic. Which misses the point of Nite-Owl, I know.The POV in the original is lower than in the movie poster, so much less flattering. Also, the actor doesn’t seem to have a proper belly. I’d argue that the lightning is part of the reason for this. The basement is dark, and you wouldn’t see anything from the original viewpoint, not unless you amped up the lights.Silk Spectre: Harder to tuck in your legs when you’re wenarig latex tights instead of just having your bare gams to ward the draft from your tush. The original waslooking aside, removing (or putting on) her earing, but the actress is staring straight at her reflection, for no good reason. I’d argue that the OOC reason for that is to focus our gaze into that mirror, where the reflected background is much more detailed the costume of the original Silk Spectre and her photo.Yeah, the Comedian is definitly mugging for the camera. Not even wenarig his full-face leather mask (which I think they’ll just drop in the movie).Ozymandias I leave for the person who can handle watching 15 TVs at once, but I note just that the character and his surroundings all look less impressing and heroic.

  2. Posted July 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Right you are about the bum (Rorschach’s, not Specter’s). I found uncropped vioserns of the original ads, and it seems the guy has the same weird triangular pattern worn by knot tops. Closest frame in the book, BTW, is a beaten up Graffiti artist with an incomplete Who Watches .Whatever it is, if you need to get a higher res pic just to speculate that it might be a bent knee then it’s missing.As for proportions, Gibson’s R. is wearing elevator shoes which, along with the long coat, make his shanks appear very long. A trench coat that ends right above the knee, although it clearly is not supposed to, is practically Rorschach’s trademark.It also makes his outfit seem the wrong size, which makes him look more like a derelict. The live-action R. is all in shadow, but his clothes look reasonably expensive. His hat doesn’t even look like it was found in the trash, let alone in the trash under something heavy.No dome, no funny car, no Nostalgia ad, no end is nigh or posters on the wall. And don’t get me fucking started on the Owl’s lack of belly. As a bellied person myself, this has been a ray of sunshine in my life, and no fucking movie is going to take it away!To be continued

  3. Posted July 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    great post

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