cover image Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre

Darwyn Cook and Amanda Conner. DC, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4012-3892-6

The two stories in in this collection cover characters originally introduced in Alan Moore’s Watchmen. The Minutemen tale is the strongest in the collection and feel like a real expansion, not just an imitation of the source material. Cooke’s art is flawless, loaded with his distinct sharp, vintage look that is perfectly suited for the rise and fall of America’s first team of superheroes. Nite Owl’s narration through the comic provides the perfect voice to describe their exploits, including the tragedy of Silhouette and the surprising metamorphosis of the Comedian during the war. The only real letdown is that the storytelling feels rushed. In the Silk Spectre story drawn by Conner, Laurie Jupiter, frustrated with her overbearing mother, leaves Los Angeles with a new boyfriend and sets up shop in counterculture San Francisco. Her world is a peaceful patchwork of young love and part-time work until a Frank Sinatra look-alike called “the Chairman” initiates an evil scheme on the local populace to lace LSD with a substance that convinces hippies to become obsessed with buying things. The Chairman plot and the depiction of counterculture 1960s San Francisco feel forced and gimmicky, and undermine the portrayal of Laurie. (July)