by Darwyn Cooke
When the Before Watchmen books were first announced, despite my general opposition to the project, I was most interested in the idea of Darwyn Cooke writing and drawing the Minutemen series. I have always loved Golden Age characters, even ones that didn't actually exist in that time period. I figured that Cooke was the perfect person to look at the original team, given the success he had with The New Frontier, his love letter to the Silver Age, and the superior sense of design he brings to his Parker adaptations.
Really, this miniseries disappointed me. It feels like Cooke was being told what to do with the book, and it takes about three issues before any sense of story arc kicks in. The book is narrated by Hollis Mason, the Nite Owl. It's framed in the early 1960s, after Mason has written his tell-all biography, and is getting some serious push back from his surviving friends from their period of dressing up to fight crimes.
Mason flashes back through his entire career, showing us the high and low points as he goes. A number of the main events are explained in Watchmen, and these points are glossed over here, although we do see how they affect Mason and his friends. This makes reading this book as a prequel before someone reads Watchmen (there are a few people left who haven't read it yet, mostly children I assume), as the narrative stays jerky and lacking in enough exposition in places.
Cooke's art is always great, but aside from the visual trick he pulls on most of the first pages, which have repeated design elements, much of this book looks rushed. In the final analysis, Cooke doesn't make me care about any of these characters any more than Alan Moore did, and this series adds little to nothing to the 'mythos'.