Written By: Darwyn Cooke
Pencils By: Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
The issue twos of Before Watchmen begin.
Minutemen seems like it’s been wrongly named. This Darwyn Cooke comic feels more and more like it should be named ‘Under The Hood’ as it’s shaping up to be very much an extension of what’s in Hollis Mason’s book as we travel through the story. This issue shows more of the Minutemen getting together as a team, the goals of the individual team members and the darker side of some of the characters. Starting with Hollis in 1963, on the verge of getting his book published we jump back to 1939 and get a glimpse at the auditions for the new costumed crime fighters. The era is painted as idealistic with a dark underbelly as the Minutemen manipulate a case to look good in the public eye. Telling the country they stopped some weapons smugglers only to cover the fact they actually unearthed a firework factory begins to show the cracks in the golden age of costumed heroes and it doesn’t stop there.
Hollis’s narration explains how he questioned the worth of his Nite Owl adventuring and seeing the team sway betwen public friendly adventuring and darker crimes in the city is what makes this comic series so good. As in Watchmen, Minutemen pulls the rug out from beneath the light and breezy image of fighting crime and highlights the absurdities of having a rota for patrols and staying popular with the media.
The issue heads down a much darker route in the second half. Manipulation, abducted children and behind closed doors relationships are all used to build the mood and change the tone. In the story, the passing announcement that next week there’s the group photo for the Minutemen (and we all know what happens there) adds a darkness to the relativly friendly and light conversations in the team and despite the glossy Cooke visuals, there’s a sense this limited run is going to take us somewhere quite sinister.
All in all this issue was solid but I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed with it and it feels distinctly like a section of a story arc as opposed to a stand alone tale but hanging out with the Minutemen is good. Expanding Under The Hood and having an idea of what else might have been in the book as well as getting a sense we’re also seeing what might have been left out is a strong angle to play on. The art is great and the characters are well presented and strongly written but I have to say, I thought this would be the title that drew me in the most with the Watchmen prequel project and so far it’s in my bottom half of the Before Watchmen line up for me, despite it many strengths.