Darwyn Cooke is a wizard of the classic styles. From the start I’ve believed that his abilities were a shoe-in for Before Watchmen. Not only does Cooke have experience writing for the period, given the tremendous success of his venture with DC’s The New Frontier and Richard Stark’s The Hunter, but his artistic style reflects the moods of that period so perfectly, from bright and happy to dark and gritty. Since San Diego Comic-Con 2011, we’ve been waiting for this, the first of the Before Watchmen series to land on the beach: Minutemen #1!
Personally? I like the approach Cooke is taking for this project, I think it fits the tone and theme that the Minutemen stood for during Watchmen. Originally they were a device to symbolize the Golden Age, back when Superman was beating up landlords for unfair housing and Batman was packing heat. The point? Nostalgia– to provide the comfy feel of the old days and to reflect the ideas of a simpler age.
Hollis Mason is the original Nite Owl, seeking to get back to that age, having been tossed out of it by the coming super powers; global war, atomic weapons, and super villains. The Silver Age brought the Golden to a close and reinvented how yesterday’s heroes saw the world. In the Watchmen universe Dr. Manhattan heralds the Silver Age, being the world’s first and only being with super powers. I refrain from using the word “hero” for Dr. M because in his wake he also shifts the paradigm that described heroes. Golden Age heroes were of and for the people, Dr. M and his contemporaries were more for the government than anything else and later on not even that.
Minutemen begins, as expected, before Watchmen with the drafting of Mason’s book, Under the Hood, an autobiographical tell-all book about the Minutemen. The dialogue with his agent is especially interesting, foreshadowing the amount of crazy hidden away within the Minutemen and reflecting the gilded aspect of Golden Age; that even though times were simple, underlining aspects were starting to surface and corrode the age.
Overall, I am very impressed with this project and I can’t wait to read more about it. Stay tuned!