Perhaps by luck, kismet, or design, the release of Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 falls during comic-con week. As I mentioned in my previous Before Watchmen review, Minutemen is being set up to be the most important arc in the event. The other titles each cover individual characters in the second generation ofWatchmen that, while mostly very solid books, are covering characters that have already been given a great amount of detail and history in Allan Moore’s original. Minutemen continues to be revealing, cinematic, pulpy, and visceral. Everything you need to know about what you’re getting into is laid out on page 1: “This isn’t a book. It’s a bloody confession.”
We continue to delve in the psyche of the superhero in Minutemen. Having already established each individual members motivation for costumed crimefighting, we advance into the formation of the actual group and what drives them. In defending the innocent are you more effective being perceived as a crew that captures criminals or actually getting individuals off the street? Can one be viewed as a symbol of truth and justice without being ingenuous and scrupulous yourself? What do people want more, a hero or a savior, and which do they actually need? These are the types of questions our intrepid narrator Hollis Mason (the original Night Owl) ponders as the duality of both his persona and principles have a light shown on them, and we start to travel down the slippery slope of heroism.
The art and layout continue to both brilliantly mirror the content and echo the original. The term cinematic keeps coming up, but only because Darwyn Cooke uses every frame to literally draw a movie. Be it action, humor, internal monologue, or just a conversation each panel feels like it has been painted on celluloid and has had so much thought put into it. He gets the reader to gloss over the trivial, envision the action, and stop and stare at what is meant to be jaw dropping. The art never interrupts the flow of the story, and vice versa.
One of the greatest qualities that Watchmen possessed was making its audience feel…something. Whatever emotion Moore wanted to evoke he would push the atmosphere, art, and content to almost hyperbole in order to kickstart some sentiment that is so ingrained in our humanity that one cannot help but have a physical reaction to it. Whether it was queasiness at Rorschach’s genuinely animalistic nature, elation at comprehending Earth’s mysteries when viewed from Mars, or philosophic wonderment as Oxymandias explores the nature of humanity, there was an inherent and rooted reaction. This is a quality, and perhaps greatest strength, shared by this issue of Minutemen.
Expect to take a roller coaster ride. Expect to be moved. Expect some twists and turns that were maybe only hinted at in the original or even in follow-up interviews with Moore. This book takes everything that was Watchmen and canon and utilizes it to such extreme effectiveness, that Minutemen not only proves itself to be the perfect companion to the original but perhaps the most powerful book of the year.
Thom Obarski writes his regular Wednesday Warrior Reviews at PureNerdNip.com