The Minutemen refuse to focus on the true evils of the world, leaving Silhouette to go out and make a real difference all on her own. Will she come out victorious or will she be scarred and beaten? More after the jump.
Previously in Before Watchmen: Minutemen: The Minutemen became a formal team, complete with secret headquarters and their first big mission. However, instead of breaking up a gun smuggling ring like they thought, they attack a fire-works factory and a cover-up was in order. Deciding to forage on their own after that embarrassment, Nite Owl, Silhouette and Mothman were too late to stop a gruesome murder at an abandoned circus.
PATRON SAINT OF CHILDREN
Silhouette takes center stage through the eyes of Nite Owl, AKA Hollis Mason. Before, it’d been addressed that she had been working on busting a child trafficking ring, though some of her fellow members weren’t keen to do so because it harshed their superhero buzz. Silhouette, left to her own devices, decides to shun the publicity that Silk Spectre seems to bask in, and continue her much more worthwhile work saving children from predators, even though it means her near death in the process.
What was particularly interesting about this book was Cooke’s decisions to flesh out Silhouette as her own character, a treatment she hasn’t really gotten before. She’s complex, caught between working on a team that is more concerned with their public image and the much nobler, though harsher, work of stopping crimes against children. Adding in her sexual orientation, we see a character that is estranged from the people who should be helping her, loved by Nite Owl, who she sees only as a friend, and alone on a mission that should take top tier on everyone’s list. This all leads to her nearly losing her life.
The only problem I had with this book was the ordeal of kicking the Comedian out of the Minutemen. While it was a pivotal moment in the original Watchmen, here it felt hastily thrown in. It would have been better to either devote more time to it in another issue, perhaps, or to only make a note of it and then take it out altogether. The book would have been much stronger if the issue had been devoted to Silhouette’s story instead of throwing in the Comedian’s attack on Silk Spectre.
Darwyn Cooke’s art has been pretty solid since this series started. The retro-feel that he’s utilized fits the book surprisingly well, despite the violent themes and vivid language, and only continues to get better as the series goes on. In this particular book, we see a slight shift in art styles. There is a visual change between moments in the book that take place during the forties vs. those that take place later on. The scenes that take place in the forties actually look like the same kind of comic art one would see in a book from the forties. Likewise, scenes that take place in the sixties have an art style that actually evokes the sixties.
What really made this book stand out from others in the series was the very last page in the story. Throughout, Hollis Mason had been looking at a comic someone had made of the Minutemen. Cooke had decided to stick quick panels from that comic at key points in the issue. The last page is the most powerful and has a wonderful usage of this comic within a comic idea. While she’s idolized in the center as the Patron Saint of Children, around it are panels that let the reader see her physical sacrifice in order to attain that role. It’s very powerful and sums up not only this particular book, but the character of Silhouette perfectly.
BOTTOM LINE: SOLID ART, INTENSE STORY
So far, this book has been my favorite in the Before Watchmen run. The story holds its own and I really enjoy how much Cooke has delved into the Minutemen team, giving each of them their own identity. While I wish Cooke didn’t feel the need to include every bit of history from the Minuteman portion of the Watchmen universe, I do appreciate all he’s done to dig deep into the underlining themes of this particular team. He’s bringing up some very important points regarding publicity, sexuality, religion and the values of the forties, all without smacking it over the reader’s head or being overly sentimental. This is definitely a good one to pick up if you are going to pick up any in the Before Watchmen series.