Review: Before Watchmen Minutemen #5

by

The shining jewel of the Before Watchmen event continues to be a great series.  And with the series out of the fabulous 40s, it gets downright depressing at times.

Darwyn Cooke knows how to create an atmosphere.  The shining, happy times of the 40s have made way for a darker time. #5 acts as the transition between super hero work and their normal lives in Watchmen.  It’s very effective, and the reader can’t help but think the heroes have run their course, and can’t help society the way they use too. But the heroes soldier on, and you respect them for it.  The great Hollis/Laurie dynamic that was in Silk Spectre gets a little time here.  The massive battle for the Statue of Liberty runs a little long.  There are a lot of interesting scenes in #5, and I would have liked to see some of them get some more development.  The inclusion of a Batman and Robin type characters was an interesting choice.  It would have been interesting to see how these two developed in comic form.  Alan Moore has said the Watchmen universe wouldn’t have superhero comics, since they have real life superheroes.  So how successful was this set of characters?

As with the previous issues, Hollis’ investigation of Hooded Justice is damn depressing.  As with most tales about child abuse, it’s something that you just can’t look away from.  It bothers you, but you keep looking at it anyways.  With the next issue being the last, I hope that Cooke spends the majority of #6 on this sub-plot.  Unlike a few other Before Watchmen series, Cooke sets them up for Watchmen organically.  Unlike Silk Spectre, which spent a horrible few pages setting up the future, things are trickled out.  What really helps is not shoveling everything onto the reader at once.  When the writer dumps a lot of information at once on the reader, it feels like the writer didn’t have enough time to properly write it into the script.

Darwyn Cooke’s artwork is nothing short of brilliance.  Characters are simply drawn, but very expressive.  Hollis’ one panel, looking at Sally and Laurie, is one subtly drawn masterpiece.  The reader can see that Hollis is in love with There is a hint of innocence and hope in his pencils, but that is quickly snuffed out by the end of the issue.  Cooke uses the nine panel format well, giving him plenty of room to tell this story. Cooke’s thick line work gives the book a look that resembles a World War II poster.  The story takes place in the “hay day,” to it’s fitting the characters look almost fake.  Phil Noto continues to nail it on colors.  Considering his penciling job on Uncanny X-Force, it’s surprising that he has enough time to color this book.

I sound like a broken record at this point, but Minutemen has been the best Before Watchmen book.  Pick up the past few issues, and enjoy.

Before Watchmen Minutemen #5 gets 4.5/5.

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