Thursday, June 7, 2012
Before Watchmen: Issue #1
Turns out "Before Watchmen," or at least this premiere issue, is brilliant.
And I like to think that "brilliant" isn't a word I throw around casually, but in this case, I think it fits. It was just a damn good comic with exceptional art and an entertaining story, but what elevated it to the level of brilliance was how it fit so perfectly into the Watchmen universe and added something worthwhile and thoughtful. I know people put Watchmen on a pedestal and think it's the most sacred, holy thing ever writ by the hand of man, and even if it is, every great story ultimately ends up as a jumping off point for even more stories to come. Those stories shouldn't always come, of course, since I read the novel Casablanca 2 and it was terrible, but a truly brilliant, unique story or mythology stays with you after you finish reading the last page, keeping the characters and concepts and ideas in your brain for years to come.
But, anyway, at the end of the day all that matters is this: Darwyne Cooke's first issue is fantastic. Cooke is a comic creator who has always been great at faithful adaptations of characters from days of yore. He wrote the only great Spirit comics since the passing of Will Eisner, and his New Frontier series reinvigorated the Justice League. And now he's writing about the Minutemen, the original vigilante team from Watchmen. This wasn't so much a story as an attempt to set the scene for the rest of the series. We were reintroduced into the world of the Watchmen and given a fresh look at some of the characters, as told from the point of view of the original Night Owl. Then entire issue was written as an excerpt from his autobiography, which saves it from having to match the voice and style of Alan Moore. Frankly, Cooke writes a better Night Owl than Moore did anyway.
Does it feel like Watchmen? Sure, but not completely... but that's not a bad thing. This comic was a story about building up various characters, while the original Watchmen was an attempt to deconstruct various character archetypes. I'm not going to say which was better (we'll give the win to Watchmen, of course), but I certainly enjoyed both for similar and yet different reasons. Anyway, long story short: Go buy this comic. But it and read it if you liked the original Watchmen or even if you hated it. This was just a darn good story with some great comic book art. Check it out.