Review: Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #4

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The first Before Watchmen series has come to a close.  Silk Spectre was one of the stronger Before Watchmen series, so it’s fitting that the final issue is quite the great read. Except for the last few pages.

Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner end the series the way I’d expect them too.  Laurie has a bad experience with a man, and goes running back to mommy.  I was terrified of that, as I figured it would be cliche and wouldn’t hit the right notes.  But my fears were eliminated rather fast, as Cooke and Conner quickly show why this story matters in the history of Laurie.  While the lose of a cute boy hit her hard, it’s her antics that really mold her into the vigilante we see in Watchmen.  The many fantasies that Laurie has had during this series are brought back, and rightfully shattered.  Her innocence has been corrupted through these four issues.  The mob story is quickly handled, which ends up being a good thing.  This gives the writers more time to for Laurie and Hollis to interact.  It’s great to read, and it brings Laurie back in a logical and satisfying way.  The atmosphere of the 70s is also used well.  Silk Spectre is the only series besides Minutemen that uses the era it’s set in effectively.

Where the issue comes undone is the final few pages.  The final few pages lead into the first Crime Busters meeting, and could have been eliminated.  They don’t add anything to the story.  Instead, we have Laurie just reiterating what she thought of these characters at the beginning of Watchmen.  It’s painfully obvious that these thoughts are suppose to be the exact opposite of what ends up happening.  She makes fun of Nite Owl II, and says the Comedian is, “More like somebody’s old man.” But the worst is the last few lines.  Cooke and Conner have Laurie get the hots for Dr. Manhattan.  While fine, it undoes everything that the last four issues have accomplished.  Laurie went from someone doing things JUST to piss off her mother, to being a strong and independent woman.  A woman who is ready to take on the responsibility of being a vigilante all that comes with it.  Then Laurie decides to seduce Dr. Manhattan because, “I bet that would really, really piss off my mom.”  It’s a horrible note to end the series on.

But Amanda Conner’s artwork makes up for the horrible ending.  Her characters are expressive as they always been.  Instead of telling how far Laurie has fallen in this series, Conner shows us while Laurie reads Greg’s letter.  It’s heart breaking, even though we have known it’s been coming since issue #1.  The multiple fantasies work perfectly in contrast to the innocence losing experience Laurie is going through.  I loved the interactions between Hollis and Laurie, and Conner adds another layer in the art.  The reader can pick up on how much Hollis has influenced Laurie, as she has some of the same mannerisms and looks.  It’s something that a reader could easily miss, but appreciate that much more on the second read through.  Paul Mounts’ colors help set the tone for each panel brilliantly.  As Laurie slowly loses her childhood, the scenes slowly get darker.  We move away from Laurie, the colors go back up.

Silk Spectre is one of two series that I would say Watchmen fans should read.  It elaborates on Laurie’s past in an interesting, and entertaining way.  If you are waiting for the trades, pick this one up.

Before Watchmen Silk Spectre #4 gets 4/5.

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