Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Before the Masks: Part 1

Book: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre
Authors/Illustrators: Darwyn Cooke/Amanda Conner
Published: 2013 (DC)

Oh man do I love this faux art deco retro style of pictures. They are so rich of color and round of line, perfect for implying movement and the human form and, like, slipping into shadows and hiding from pools of streetlights and stuff. It was great looking at this thing.

 I wasn't quite as fond of the story until it stopped skimming the roster and settled into its own focused narrative of the Silhouette and the first Nite Owl's quest to continue his friend's justice against a mysterious evil lurking on little children. Hooded Justice was creepy as **** and may or may not have been tied into Silhouette's past at the concentration camps she and her sister escaped in WWII and that was a great hint that MAY OR MAY NOT have anything to do with who they eventually collar for this, I won't tell.

 That specific storyline, not necessarily the main one about Nite Owl trying to get his Minutemen memoir published without any personal compromise, was perfect for the noir-ish lines and beats of this. The Minutemen's history was kind of exactly like I would've thought, if I had given any thought to it, which I didn't because I always figured that wasn't the interesting bit, and turns out I was right. At least according to this, anyway. I'm counting this as cannon, since Watchmen managed to stay self-contained and therefore avoid that argument for so long until the movie (say what you will about the rest of it but that was one of my all-time favorite opening sequences), and even now it's just that, the original graphic novel, and these origin story ones. 

 Silk Spectre
Lori and I have a weird relationship because I feel like I most relate to her while also being fed up to past my eyeballs (but no further) with her mommy issues. And this volume just made it worse, only with a decent story, so...help, someone tell me what I think!
Nah, just kidding. (See? She would totally joke like that.) Despite wanting its origin to be much more of a side note in a much bigger picture of reasons and consequences, I could see where Lori was coming from and how it propelled her into her stint with the Watchmen. Yeah, having a mom famous for being the easiest superhero to get to know, like, ever, would be embarassing and confusing enough to want to run away from but difficult enough to elude entirely, especially when it fights against her own natural talents and instincts. And sure, it's totally understandable that a big part of her would want to give in to that instinct to use it for good, to reshape her mom's legacy into something noble and purely heroic so she can be proud of where she comes from without feeling crippling shame at the same time.
And when Lori runs away, it's with a cute guy and a vanful of hippies who cheerfully practice the commune life before it got overrun with irony and cynicism that froze the moment in grotesque cliches of itself. TL;DR: I LIKED THE COLORS WHEN SHE DROPPED ACID.
Anyway, what turns out to dissolve that happy little nest is her real dad, and for those of you who haven't read Watchmen yet (WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE GO TO THE LIBRARY AND RECTIFY THIS) I won't say who that is but in this story it isn't important except that he knows how to creep through the shadows and intimidate the hell out of whoever is threatening her, which usually tends to cause her more distress than safety.
And it ties in neatly to her formal introduction to crime fighting, with the last two pages showing her walking into her first Watchmen meeting. But dudes, the last line is her thought bubble looking at Dr. Manhattan thinking about how she can get him into bed. "I bet my mom would HATE that..."
Also, there is a full-color panel of full-frontal male nudity in the middle of this thing, which - somehow male nudity is always surprising. I've seen more of Walter White's and Roger Sterling's bare asses than I can count comfortably but it strikes me anew every time.
Back to the library for this one.

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