Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #1 Review

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The second week of Before Watchmen has arrived.  While Silk Spectre isn’t as mind boggling great as Minutemen was, it shows a lot of potential.

Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner’s script, much like Minutemen #1, is very wordy.  There are only a few panels that lack words.  Most of the dialogue is needed, and well written.  But there is one scene in particular, where Laurie is being attacked, that has the lyrics of a song playing in between the grunting.  While this could have worked as a parallel to the fight going on, it has little to nothing to do with the fight.  The scene actually works better if the reader doesn’t read all the lyrics.  Some of the dialogue can also seem a little corny.  The story takes place in 1966, but looks and sounds like it’s in the 50’s.  Not a huge problem, as the dialogue doesn’t pop up much, but it can leave a more astute reader a tad confused.  This story, while about Laurie, is also about Sally.  She seems to be an equal lead in this book, as she is mentioned or appears in the same amount of panels.  Cooke and Conner gives us little reason to like Sally though.  While the book is seen from the perspective of Laurie, a teenage girl with a crush, it would have been nice to see some redeeming qualities.  They start to appear at the end, which gives the impression that they will come in future issues of this mini-series.  But Cooke and Conner give the reader a great reason to feel for Laurie.  They describe her and her mother’s past quickly, efficiently, and in a compelling manner.  They even gives small shots into what Laurie is thinking, which really hooks the reader into Laurie’s life.  Usually they are one panel cartoons that quickly summarize what she is feeling.  Her dialogue feels like a real teenage girl, which can be hard for some male writers.

The majority of that last paragraph was spent saying some bad things, but this series looks to be a great one.  A few tweaks and the score would have been a little higher.  It would be nice if the two writers could tone down the dialogue in some scenes, and give the reader a reason or two to feel for Sally.  We can appreciate her being an over bearing mother, and being gifted with the curse of knowledge, but show us a redeeming quality or two.  The way Cooke and Conner seem to be going with the ending, those qualities will no doubt make an appearance and redeem Sally.  Watchmen fans will notice quite a few winks and nods to the classic graphic novel.  Much like Minutemen, they aren’t blatant or break the flow of the story, but they are subtle.

Amanda Conner’s pencils suit the mixture of 50’s and 60’s motif.  She does a great job of changing small things in a characters reaction when something is said, or they are reacting to something.  It goes a long way to make these characters not only believable, but actually care for them.  Things like Laurie’s eyes when her classmate throws some of her milkshake at her.  It really makes the reader feel for Laurie and get inside her head.  The quick panels about what she is thinking about are funny, and penciled in more of a cartoony way.  Conner sticks to the nine panel page layout, and she uses it masterfully.  Many times a scene calls for the panel to say stagnant, letting the reader see the small details change in a scene.  Her art is very detailed, and it’s easy to get lost in a scene looking for small easter eggs.  While Cooke’s script really got the reader in the mind of teenage girl, Cooner’s art does more so.  Two panels in particular capture a crop full of emotions quickly.  We are two issues into Before Watchmen, and it’s already safe to say the art is going to be stunning in each issue.

Another issue, another Crimson Corsair back up.  The art does look good so far, although I haven’t had a chance to read the two back ups back to back.

Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #1 gets 3.5/5.

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