Written By: Darwyn Cooke
Pencils By: Amanda Conner
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
Week two of ‘Before Watchmen’ brings us Silk Spectre’s own comic and I really wanted to like this one more than I did. After last week’s Minutemen, that read well, looked great and had a strong sense of nostalgia for the original Watchmen (but not much else), this Silk Spectre comic also misses a trick somewhere along the line.
Once again we’re presented with a whole issue of details that feel like we already knew enough about , without the need for expansion. Laurie Jupiter’s childhood with her mother’s problems with men, growing up under the shadow of the Silk Spectre’s legacy (both the bright and the more sordid elements) and Sally’s rebellion against becoming her mother. It’s all told well enough with Darywn Cooke’s writing but it’s all beginning to feel like extensions to elements that were used as to the point backdrops in the original Watchmen, with no sense of reward here.
So far this seems like it might be the problem with Before Watchmen. No matter where any of this goes we know the outcome. We all know the story of Watchmen and in amongst it we know all of these ‘before’ Watchmen stories. We may not know the full ins and outs or see every detail in the original comic book series but we know all we need to know about Sally Jupiter and how her past effected what we see in Watchmen. Arguably the appeal of Before Watchmen is learning extra nuggets about the characters we know and love but so far with Minutemen and Silk Spectre we’re focused on moments we already know a fair bit about from the original Watchmen for the most part.
So what does work here? Well as I mentioned before, as a stand alone story, I like what Darwyn Cooke has done. As a new series I could read this story about a young girl battling against what’s expected of her. I like the cliche sixties blossoming romance with arguments in diners and running away from problems at home with the hippies. I like the young Laurie showing glimmers of future bitter older Laurie and with Amanda Conner’s artwork (one of my favourite artists in the business) this whole issue looks fantastic. Showcasing Conner’s character work perfectly while celebrating the standards set in Watchmen all at the same time, Conner treads a fine balance between new and old styles and really gives Laurie’s feisty attitude a modern look. Also the phone conversation between Sally and Hollis. What Watchmen fan could say they didn’t love seeing that element included here?
So what holds it back from being really great? For starters the attacker that takes Laurie by surprise is far too much like the movie version of Watchmen and it just feels like a cheap shot to me. Also, however much I love Conner’s artwork in everything she does, the little cartoon Laurie’s to show her teen girl feelings feel out of place in a Watchmen book. Of course this element is up for debate, given that Before Watchmen isn’t actually Watchmen and it will set it’s own rules over the course of this series but for a comic that relies so heavily on replicating, celebrating or expanding Watchmen , this element felt strange to me.
I actually wanted Silk Spectre to be one of my favourites in the Before Watchmen event. The combination of Cooke and Conner promised great things and if this was a series not connected to a comic book series I’ve read multiple times and love the intricacies of already it would probably be a title I could love reading. Again, this being an issue #1 means there’s room for development and this issue could very well just be the ‘catch up’ for new readers to understand Laurie but for a longtime Watchmen fan, this just made me constantly question the worth of this part of the Before Watchmen project and worry that all this prequel series is going to be is a series of extensions to the key moments we already know about the characters.
Lastly, The Curse of Crimson Corsair two page story at the back of this issue is too little to really comment on. This one really needs some progression before it feels like more than “We also need something like The Black Freighter’ inclusion in Before Watchmen.
Also this week I’ve decided to introduce a second rating. A rating that will rate the ‘Before Watchmen’ event as a whole to reflect my feelings on how I feel it’s progressing. The rating above is, as per usual the rating of the individual issue. Here at the bottom I’ll keep an ongoing tally of how I feel Before Watchmen, as a whole is developing and a short comment of my general feelings towards it.
Before Watchmen: Week 2 Overview:
“I’m already getting tired of the Issue #1′s and we’re only two in. The Issue #2′s better bring something new to this ”Before Watchmen’ DC Comics’ gamble or this whole thing is going to get tiresome real quick”