REVIEW: Before Watchmen – Minutemen #6 (of 6)

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Or – “Still Can’t Believe What Last Issue Implied About Events Behind The Scenes…”

I have said over and over that I can’t understand why DC chose to do the Before Watchmen project, much less so very much of it.  I just didn’t really see that there were that many stories left untold.  Last issue very shockingly reminded me that there were at least a couple of things I hadn’t considered, but the jury was out as to whether that was a good thing.  What’s the final word?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

BeforeWatchmen6CoverBEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #6
Writer: Darwyn Cooke
Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Colorist: Phil Noto
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Mark Chiarello
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Before Watchmen – Minutemen:  Nite-Owl’s career has been up and down, and he has watched nearly all of his compatriots succumb to injury, retirement or death.  After Silhouette’s murder, Nite-Owl and Mothman have worked (albeit slowly) to try to find the person or persons responsible, and have found themselves embroiled in the world of child slavery.  Worst of all, Nite-Owl has come face to face with the man he believes to be the killer:  his fellow Minuteman, Hooded Justice!

THERE’S THE HEART OF A NIGHT-OWL CALLING…

After last issue’s tense stand-off, we open this issue with Nite-Owl receiving the key to the city for saving young Tino Musante from the clutches of his old friend.  Cooke’s art is fascinating to look at, especially in terms of panel construction, as he breaks the nine-panel grid of the original Watchmen, but still maintains the feel of the original art.  (His Marilyn Monroe is pretty cute, too.)  Nite-Owl and Mothman together make for an interesting team, a World’s Finest duo with feel of clay and sardonic attitudes, even when they are successful in their heroic intent.  Thanks to intelligence from a drunken Captain Metropolis (who was, you might recall, Hooded Justice’s partner in both crime-fighting and romance) they track Hooded Justice to his lair.  I like the fact that Cooke makes certain to undermine as many classic superhero tropes as possible (the duo utterly fails to sneak up on their prey, while Mothman has to discard his mud-filled flying harness after climbing a hillside), in keeping with Watchmen tradition, something that the other titles haven’t always been successful at.  Of course, I can’t decide if the confrontation with Hooded Justice inverts a superhero fighting cliché or supports it, and I’ve now read the sequence four times.

“LAUGH?  I THOUGHT I’D DIE.”

Of course, even when things seem to be wrapped up, there are still unseen threads (“Nothing ever ends, Adrian…”) and Hollis Mason is shocked to discover another old friend in his living room one morning, after his retirement.  The revelations that Eddie Blake carried in the final pages of the issue actually made me gasp out loud like a Scooby Doo character, and serve to explain another mystery of the Watchmen universe: How did Hollis get away with the revelations that were contained in his autobiography?  The simple answer isn’t so simple, as we find out things about not only the previous issue of this miniseries, but the original book, as well as the real truth about who was (you should excuse the expression) ‘under the hood.’  (Or, to be more accurate, the hoods.)  What we learn in this issue leaves both the reader and Hollis Mason wondering whether he did the right thing, and more importantly, whether the right man got punished for the crimes of the past, but leaves him to rebuild his life until he gets murdered in 1985.

THE BOTTOM LINE: AN ANSWER TO QUESTIONS UNASKED…

There are some problems here, and I still wonder if the story needed to be told, but this issue puts a bow on a very well-constructed mystery.  More importantly, it adds more depth to the backstory of the Minutemen, one of the most fascinating parts of the original Watchmen tale.  Will this every be essential reading the way the original series has become?  Probably not, but Darwyn Cooke is a very talented creator, and makes a pretty strong piece out of what amounts to a collection of story scraps off Moore & Gibbons work-table.  Before Watchmen: Minutemen #6 is a strong ending to a pretty good tale, and though it’ll never be what the original was, it’s still a very nicely executed book, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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