“Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4”

Darwyn Cooke (W/A)
DC Comics
$3.99, 32 pages

These are life’s small, intimate horrorsthey course through all times and all places, and no one is safe from them….How many of these horrible little truths can a person absorb before they want to crawl in a hole and hide? 

    The little things. Drawyn Cooke has dug way past surface facades in his complete dissection of The Hero. Beyond just one’s own overall esteem, “Minutemen #4” boils down to the everyday minutia: the decisions we make, the moments we cherish, our interactions with each other; and whether they are worth celebrating.

    From page one the dialogue and narration maintains the sharp and biting, yet unapologetically honest, tone we’ve enjoyed this whole run. While “Minutemen #3” took a brutal tole on the senses, this issue will have your skin crawling by page one. Witty phrasing and clever foreshadowing perfectly tie the written word with visual imagery in what feels like a masters class in how to craft a comic. The art has similarly maintained its gritty yet retro pulpy feel, while rising in tone to match each scene’s emotionality beat for beat. Minutemen is damn near perfect across the board and is the best answer to the question, Why should there even be a Before Watchmen event?.

      Hollis “Nite Owl” Mason continues his role of intrepid narrator, as his detective skills simultaneously unravel the truths of the group and the threads of heroism. His own persona and motivations have evolved from blind altruism through “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” landing squarely in the territory of having to do what you think is right regardless of the cost. Sadly, this mentality is only a hair away from vigilante-ism, a line that several of his compatriots cross.

    Cooke also takes this opportunity to further delve into the notion of defining Justice through the exploration of whether the events of the past can justify the choices of the present. The answer, like all major decisions in life, is a gray wash. For some, tragedy begets catharsis, lending a lifetime’s worth of motivation for global change to an existence that may have otherwise just been stuck in neutral. For others, pain only breads contempt and vengeance, bathing them in as much blood and guilt as their victimizers. Even that path is given multiple branches, resulting in either a dehumanizing apathy under the countenance of enlightenment or an actual realization and wake up call.

 

    

Either way justice is not blind, as accountability seems non-existent, perhaps intentionally so. In examining morality and motivation on this level, the individual should be beyond the desire for merely conforming to social standards, but rather be examples of the ideals they claim to uphold. A hero is not a hero because he does what he is told; he does what is necessary in the face of extreme hardship. Sorry to draw this full circle, but that is the through line of Minutemen. What is necessary vs. what is appearance? What is defense vs. what is vengeance? Are we defined by how we are remembered or by the actions we took when no-one was watching? In the end, how will those closest to us reflect upon our existence in both their life and the world at large? These are the sum of the little things that make up a lifetime.