Written By: Darwyn Cooke
Pencils By: Amanda Conner
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
Issue #1 of Silk Spectre suffered a little for me as it did what I expected this Before Watchmen series to do and simply re-present what we already knew with a fresh coat of paint (albeit a fantastic looking coat of paint from the artwork of Amanda Conner). Now with issue #2 and after a good run of Before Watchmen titles, Silk Spectre feels way more comfortable and what Darwyn Cooke is giving us here is a great back story to a character that really deserved one.
Laurie’s backstory in the original Watchmen isn’t entirely her own. Its part Doctor Manhattans, part her Mothers and part The Comedians really. We still know all we need to know about Laurie’s past despite that but here she’s allowed to play in a space that doesn’t really need to connect directly to the original Watchmen. Cooke takes us on a trip through American history. Through the sixties and its ‘Make Love Not War’ teenage freedom movement and he charts a course to when that Peace, Love and Harmony good will disappeared or more importantly, why it disappeared. We’re presented a theory that teenagers were so into making the world a better place they stopped buying stuff and the powers that be won’t stand for a whole generation of kids not buying stuff so they decide to step in.
What we’re shown here is a secret meeting where classic bands (including the Beatles – nice touch) are introduced to a way to get the kids buying stuff again and how mass media combined with chemicals can switch the kids back on to spending their money. It’s fascinating stuff and obviously what this miniseries will deal with going forward but however great it is, it’s not as strong as Laurie is herself in this issue.
Laurie is a fantastic character in the original Watchmen. She’s strong, opinionated and her arc has an emotional last act I always respond to on a re-read but it wasn’t really until reading this issue that I fell in love with the girl. Laurie is shown here as a classic heroine and very much of the sixties. Slipping on a skimpy outfit and going out to fight crime because she feels she has to is something Watchmen has always got across to the audience well.
Seeing Laurie’s own origin here was great but even that wasn’t the big draw. I just liked seeing her live her life. Even if this wasn’t part of a bigger story that I already have a love affair with I would read this comic. Laurie’s fun. She’s in love and her letter back to ‘Uncle Hollis’ (how cute is that?) combined with the simply amazing artwork from Amanda Conner makes for a feel good character that it’s fun seeing live her life. The twists and turns come naturally and the slow burn towards crime fighting is given room to breathe but even when it arrives we still get to keep Laurie as the teenager trying to live a happy life. The panels where she leaps into bed with her boyfriend or overhears the group of guys talking about their plans are filled to the brim with the delights that Conner can bring to a frame. Expressions and costumes and character’s happiness glow out of her work and given the hippy dippy era the story is set in, the sense of enjoyment was a much needed element to sell this story. This issue felt long in the best of ways. The plot was allowed to develop and pull us into the situation with Laurie and I loved that. This was a great read and now more than ever I need to get my hands on the DC statutte of Laurie shown at comic con. Hey wait, did this comic just make me want to buy something? Maybe the pages are laced with that specially formulated LSD. *GULP.