June 7, 2012


Normally, when I blog about a book, I have a very simple reaction - either I like it, or I don't like it. (And "don't like it' can include parts that I like). Most things I read I have an overall emotional reaction to, whether it's positive, negative, or neutral.

But Before Watchmen: Minutemen is a book that I am having completely ambiguous feelings about.

On the one hand, simply as a comic - it's stunning. Darwyn Cooke crafts a story that easily could fit as a precursor to the graphic novel. Granted, this is an "introducing the band" issue (meaning that next issue will kick-start us into the story), but there's strong characterization, building upon what Moore and Gibbons suggested and stated. And as other reviewers have stated, it is a bit wordy, but given that we're being told this through the eyes of the writer...I can forgive it.

Yet, on the other hand, and perhaps I'm reading too much into this...there isn't a sense of investment in the narrative. With Cooke's other work, like New Frontier, or his adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter and The Outfit, there's a really strong sense that Cooke is telling a story he wants to, in a way he wants to, and that it's satisfying. Perhaps the controversy about this book has me tainted (or even, given what happens, that it's a deliberate storytelling device), but it doesn't seem as if Cooke feels that sense of investment in these characters, and reading the book....is a good experience, but has me feeling a little unsure of how to proceed.

(The two-page Crimson Corsair backup? Did nothing for me. But Minutemen did affect me enough to want to purchase issue #2).

This is a mixed review - it's not a bad book (and as the first of six parts, it's not going to necessarily be the most intensive), and as a great example of superheroic storytelling, Before Watchmen: Minutemen serves the bill, echoing Moore and Gibbons' work without aping it. But there's not much of an emotional core to the book so far, and although it is the first issue....Cooke has done better.

So I'll keep reading Minutemen...but I'll probably skip on the other prequel titles.

Because if this book - which is the "highlight" - doesn't seem engaged in its characters, the other titles may seem like bad fan fiction in comparison.

No comments: