Author Darwyn Cooke, Illustrations Amanda Conner
I’m not going to write dual reviews for this one, so this one review will be largely spoiler free. The reason for this being I’m bored with this book, it wasn’t for me and I am ready to be done with it. Sorry fanboys.
Before Watchmen is a series of comic books that is about the members of the Watchmen before they became Watchmen. This first one contains the introduction to the Minutemen and Silk Spectre’s origin story.
I should start by saying I read Watchmen a few years ago, exactly once. I enjoyed it, I thought it was very good, well written, and poignant with beautiful art and graphics. But I am not a Watchmen fanatic. Nor do I even remember a lot of the details of the first book. I figured that going in to prequels wouldn’t require me to really remember a lot but I was wrong. The Minutemen half of this book really leans on the reader already having a strong foundation of Watchmen lore. You need to know who characters are or you just don’t care.
Well, I found myself not caring. I’m terrible with names and this book wanted me to already be able to interchange hero pseudonyms with civilian names for all the characters. That got confusing. Additionally, all of the men in this book look identical to me. They’re all square jawed, brown haired, white men. Even their uniforms looked similar! So I basically just felt lost during this whole story.
Adding to the confusion is that it bounces back and forth on a timeline that spans about 20 years. I found myself being perplexed by what was happening on the page because characters would be dead and then alive or one version of themselves and then another and I just didn’t care enough to keep up.
The 20 years earlier scenes also suffered from an issue I’m still unsure of how to straighten out in literature or any media. We can all admit that back in the early decades of the 20th century times were different in America. People behaved differently toward women and other minorities than they should have. I get placing a story back in time but how racist and sexist does that allow you to be? Does it make up for it if you have a liberal sympathy toward a character being gay? I think all of this could’ve been very provocative and interesting in a different book. But in this one I was just confused again, this time at whether or not I should be offended.
Overall, the Minutemen story line in this book did nothing for me. I could easily have gone without reading it. Maybe someone who really holds these characters dear to their hearts will have a different opinion.
The Silk Spectre story line was a little better for me just in that at least I could follow it. She’s the daughter of one of the Minutemen from the first half of the book and has some serious mommy issues. We follow her through a hippy acid trip path of self discovery that brings her right back to where she started.
It’s fine, a little silly, but fine. And I always give credit for equal opportunity nudity (re penis) as I discussed before in my Hellraiser Omnibus review. Just once again, this story wasn’t for me.
I do not like it when books don’t stand on their own. It’s a big problem with comic books in general. You have to read another 100 books just to understand one. Prequels at least should be the exception. They’re supposed to be an introduction! But this one forgot that there could be a new audience walking in and catered to the existing fans instead.
Give it a shot if you are already a fan but just read Watchmen instead if you’re not.
2/5 smilies 🙂🙂
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If you’re sill interested, buy Before Watchmen here: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre
But if you’d rather read a better book buy Watchmen here: Watchmen (2019 Edition)