Over the next several months we are going to be discussing one of the most controversial decisions at DC Comics in the last several years.…..the attempt to tell the story of the Watchmen in the prequels aptly titled Before Watchmen. You might notice that this week’s Post is a bit different from previous ones. Once again, Before Watchmen released not one, but TWO titles: Comedian #4 and Minutemen #5. Good or bad, here we are and we are going to cover it. (I am using the Royal “We” in this instance).
Comedian #4 Written By Brian Azzarello with Art By J.G. Jones
As longtime readers of this column may remember, I haven’t really been a big fan of this book. The Comedian is a character that was one dimensional in Moore’s original work and thus far, Azzarello’s attempt to give him some depth has been pretty weak. That is until this issue. I felt that this story really hits home why Eddie Blake is so fucked up. The issue takes place entirely in Nam and is probably the closest that mainstream comics will ever come to Apocalypse Now. The story is a jumble with its scenes presented out of order and captions from mulitple songs from the era putting an accent on the images. We see The Comedian with his hit squad being told what they and can’t do. We see The Comedian drop acid and the after effects which amount to the slaughter of an entire VC town. We see his political connections dry up and we even get a peak into a bit of Eddie’s hallucinations. The story’s dark and like last issue is more true to form with old Eddie. He’s a bastard and he’s not afraid to show it. And unlike previous issues, Azzarello’s attempts to show Comedian as a sympathetic character actually work this time as it’s obvious that he’s acting the way he’s acting to find some sense in a world that has gone mad around him. It’s subtle and that’s what’s needed to make it effective. The art by J.G. Jones is enjoyable. But I still feel that this book needs to reach further and make it feel more like the Watchmen Universe and less like a look back at American history. Overall, the book’s getting better but still not good enough for me to recommend it.
Minutemen #5 Story and Art by Darwyn Cooke
With each issue of this series, one thought becomes stronger and stronger in my mind: If they ever decide to do a film based on any of the Before Watchmen titles, Minutemen should be the one. This series is so well layered and makes Hollis Mason seem like the coolest hero out there. This issue once again begins in the sixties. This time, Hollis has gone to see Sally to find out her opinions on his book. Needless to say, Sally isn’t pleased with the subject matter. We flashback to ’47 just in time to see the demise of Dollar Bill and the wedding of Silk Spectre. So that leaves 4 Minutemen on the team and I use the term loosely. Captain Metropolis attempts to reinvigorate the team by adding two new members: Bluecoat and Scout who are based off popular comic characters. This doesn’t sit well with Nite Owl. But these new teammates lead to the Minutemen’s greatest victory….that no one hears about. Shortly after, the team disbands and Hollis ends up back on the trail of missing kids which leads him to a horrifying revelation. Another great cliffhanger ending. This book is full of nostalgia for the comic book heroes of the golden age but with tight and original storytelling. Cooke knows how to let his characters lead the story. The plot is seen through Hollis’ eyes and we feel every surprise and betrayal that he feels. Some of the reveals in this book are from the original Watchmen mini series but here they feel fresh and new. It’s also amazing how much story Cooke packs into the book. The events of this issue could have been a whole mini series unto themselves. But Darwyn delivers the tale in 26 pages and it’s a satisfying 26 pages at that. His art continues to be perfect. The cover pops. The interiors dance with exciting action. The colours by Phil Noto are fantastic aswell. I love how the 60s are just a tad brighter than the 40s. There’s one more issue to go and much like Silk Spectre, I am sad to see this series go. You gotta read this book as it’s one of the good ones.
That brings us to the end of the feature stories. As for Curse of the Crimson Corsair, it continues to be a well drawn, well written cluster-fuck. I wasn’t even sure which issue I was suppose to read first to follow this story as I continue to have no interest in it. Sorry.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
Next Week’s Issues: Dr. Manhattan #3 by J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes and Rorschach by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo