Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1

by stephengervais on June 10, 2012

When DC announced they were going to do a prequel to the Holy Bible of comic books, the Watchmen, the comic book community divided quicker than water in front of Moses. One side accused DC of prostituting the beloved piece of work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons including Moore himself. The other side was drooling at the talent DC lined up for this undertaking and was genuinely excited to see the Watchmen universe expanded. I’m sure several forum boards crashed that day with all the back and forth banter discussing creator rights and exploitation.

With this controversial backdrop Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 was released this past Wednesday. The talented Darwyn Cooke handles both the art and the story for this 6 part mini-series. The first thing that stands out with this issue is the incredible artwork. The golden age heroes are captured perfectly by Cooke’s throwback style. The era in which the story is set,the late 30's, and Cooke’s art are a tailor-made fit. Cooke seems to specialize in past time period pieces.

The story is told through the voice of the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. He recounts the original appearances of the Minutemen and how they came to be to a publisher he is shopping his tell all book to.Through excerpts from his book we get 2 to 3 pages narrated by Hollis on each original member of the Minutemen. By writing the issue this way the pacing is very fast and I found myself never getting bored. Some characters are more interesting than others so there are dull points in the issue such as the 2 page spread for Dollar Bill but overall the issue moves along quite nicely.

Cooke is not attempted to change the original story he is simply expanding the lesser known characters by adding their back story. The Minutemen are barely touched in the original and Cooke is proving that the Watchmen universe can definitely be developed without compromising Moore’s classic. You can see he certainly draws many elements from the original but puts his own take on them. In true Watchmen fashion he continues on the theme of a flawed world filled with flawed heroes. The whole issue is brimming with an underlying tone of violence and desperation which is nicely offset by the artwork.

For those of you that are against the whole Before Watchmen idea this issue won’t change your mind. It’s not the groundbreaking work of the original but really is a fun read. I’d call it a companion piece to the original. Cooke manages to give us a great take on some lesser known characters and proves the Watchmen universe can definitely be developed without tarnishing Moore’s masterpiece.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


lucstclair's picture

Great review. Unfortunately, I’m part of the side of the coin that thinks that this tarnishes the literature masterpiece that is Watchmen. Alan Moore has created a monumental & brutally honest comic book adventure about a doomed dystopian society, where super heroes are no longer worshipped and are forced to deal with a world gone mad. Can’t really blame DC for this, they’re a company and they’re out to sell comics, to make money and eventually make a sizable profit. That’s the goal for any business.


Now I don’t know the whole story here, but what I do know is that Alan Moore doesn’t own the rights to any of the characters, which gives DC carte blanche for Watchmen. Period. Having said that, I think it’s a lack of respect to a writer who along the lines of Frank Miller & Neil Gaiman, have literally changed the way we look at comics. No one had read anything quite like Watchmen before, it was a total game changer. I wonder if Moore had given his blessing for Before Watchmen, would it of changed my opinion, probably not, I’m pig-headed like that. If he wrote them himself? Probably yes. But then again I truly believe he wrote everything that needed to be written about those characters and the world they live in.


Seriously, what’s next? Before The Dark Knight Returns? Before Invisibles? Or god forbid, before Maus? I meant it when I said this was a great review and you’re absolutely right by saying that these comics won’t change how I feel. Not even a 4 star review and the best writers & artists DC has to offer could persuade me otherwise. Maybe I’m just overreacting and these are simply harmless comics, but every fibre of my being as a comic book lover & collector is telling me otherwise. Of course I don’t look down on people who will collect Before Watchmen, that’s your opinion and I respect that. But this isn’t for me. I think I’ll go read Watchmen again.

Dave Morris's picture

I am also in the camp of people that have no interest in reading these prequels.  I've read so much about Alan Moore himself and have so much respect for him that if he isn't in approval of these books than neither am I.

There are so many articles and opinions on the ins and outs of this situation but I think Brian Lee Omaley summed it up very well on Twitter when he said

A corporation lied to a guy and now is trying to make tons of money off his work against his will. It’s not complicated. Don’t buy it."

lucstclair's picture

Amen brother

loafandjug's picture

I have no interest either in the prequels, because i'm probably one of a few people in the world who didn't enjoy the watchmen. I take that back, i actually only enjoyed the pirate story that was happening in the background. Alan Moore hasn't written anything that i really enjoyed reading. I'm not sure why i don't enjoy his books more, i just can't seem to get into them.