The biggest comic convention in the world starts up this week, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of excitement on the comic racks. Namely, Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen #2, which singlehandedly validates the very existence of the Before Watchmen series. Read on to find out why.
Better than any of the other books in the series so far, Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen adds to the Watchmen mythology in a grounded and sensible way. Granted, it’s easier to reveal new things about characters that didn’t get much focus in the original work than it is to flesh out those who were already so well accounted for, but Cooke is clearly working hard to make this a fantastic title.
The book picks up in 1962 where Hollis Mason is discussing his tell-all book with the former Minutemen agent, Larry. Whereas Larry only cares about the negative publicity in the book that might tarnish the Minutemen’s image, Mason feels the need to expose to the public the truth behind the famous team. Mason himself is really starting to come into his own as a character thanks to Cooke’s strong vision of what a retired superhero-turned-author might be like.
Before long, we’re brought back to 1939 when the Minutemen first started recruiting members and carrying out their own brand of justice. Seeing the members of the Minutemen get to know each other and go through some awkward first moments together is great and really adds color to each of the characters. This issue also starts to reveal a ton of backstory to ideas that were important in Watchmen, like the relationship between Hooded Justice and Sally. Those who complain that Before Watchmen is only retreading old ground and not adding anything new will eat their words after reading this one.
Cooke shows us the very first mission that the Minutemen took together, an assault on a suspected weapons-smuggling ring. This scene in particular really shows Cooke’s talents for cinematic framing and perfectly paced humor. I’ve said it before, but his art brings back memories of Batman: The Animated Series; combine that with smart dialogue and you have a seriously fun comic book.
Underneath the light-hearted and humorous exterior, though, lies a very dark story involving a side of Hooded Justice that hasn’t been seen before. It’s heartbreaking and heavy stuff, but Cooke handles it effortlessly and really manages to give it plenty of emotional depth. Cooke is making this book into a very compelling character-driven story, full of flawed and believable human beings with their own concepts of what it means to be a hero. With this second issue of Minutemen, Cooke has really started to prove that every member of this team of vigilantes has just as much of a story to tell as their more famous successors.