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Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre (Beyond Watchmen) Hardcover – July 2, 2013

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Q&A with Before Watchmen Creators Darwyn Cooke and Len Wein

Before Watchmen

In an exclusive Q&A, Before Watchmen creators Darwyn Cooke and Len Wein share their thoughts with Kindle.

Q: Before Watchmen is a controversial project, to say the least. Upon being approached to work on it, what was your first reaction?

Darwyn Cooke: My reaction was to politely decline. I didn't know I had anything to say that wasn't already there. It was a couple years before the story idea for Minutemen occurred to me, and that was when I committed to the project. Once I knew I had a story that excited me I got involved.

Len Wein: My first reaction was that the project sounded like a great deal of fun, especially the opportunity to play with a character like Ozymandias. The chance to flesh out Adrian Veidt's story was just something I couldn't resist.

Q: Following up on an iconic piece of art like Watchmen can be very daunting. Were you intimidated at all by the prospect of working on these classic characters?

D.C.: Yes. Very much so. Having gone through a similar experience with Will Eisner's Spirit I was very aware of how hard I'd have to work to live up to the source material Alan and Dave created.

L.W.: Not in the least. Having already written the Watchmen video game, WATCHMEN; THE END IS NIGH, I was more than comfortable writing in this world. Having been the original series' editor made it even easier.

Before Watchmen

Q: Darwyn, why did you select Nite Owl (Hollis Mason) as the narrative voice for the Minutemen series?

D.C: Hollis' autobiography, Under The Hood, seemed like the most logical foundation on which to build my story and when we pick up the story in 1962 he's writing said book. That put him in his late forties evaluating his life up until then. Being in my late forties it was a very comfortable fit from a narrative standpoint.

Q: Minutemen dives deep into the very flawed lives of a team that’s supposed to represent a Golden Age for heroes. Was it easy to take the story in such a dark direction or more difficult?

D.C.: Very difficult. Most of the darkness was built into the characters by Alan and Dave so to be true to that and be true to the period of the story, one has to be careful to avoid transposing one's own values or modern mores onto the characters. Staying true to the social conventions and prejudices of the time make for a darker and somewhat more heartless story.

Q: Silk Spectre has been labeled as a “coming of age” story. Would you agree with that? Why or why not?

D.C.: I suppose I can agree in general, but it feels more like a small vignette of Laurie's journey. We see what sets her on a certain path, but when we leave her, she's still a teenage girl and she's just met Jon. Alan and Dave's story is where we see Laurie fully come of age.

Q: Ozymandias is such a visually striking series, with the layouts and framing sequences especially standing out. Len, what type of relationship did you have with artist Jae Lee in creating such a distinct feel for this story?

L.W.: I really have to give the overwhelming credit for the look of the series to Jae. I gave him very detailed, page/panel breakdowns to work from. How Jae interpreted those breakdowns is entirely to his own credit. I was more impressed than anyone when I first saw what Jae did with my story.

Q: What do you think is the most compelling part about the Ozymandias character?

L.W.: Oh, the internal dichotomy, certainly. The concept of a man who so loves the world that he is willing to murder millions of people to save it. Part of the fun of writing the book in the first person was to show the reader the vast difference between what Adrian tells the reader he's doing and what he's actually doing.

Q: Dollar Bill was Steve Rude’s first DC work in years. What was the best or most unique aspect of working with one of comics’ great talents?

L.W.: Steve very much wanted to tell a story with a happy ending in some way. Since our hero is killed several pages before the end, that posed a challenge I was eager to tackle. Also, how often does one get to work with a talent like Steve Rude in one's lifetime?

Review

"BEFORE WATCHMEN has been an unqualified success."—Mtv Geek
 
"BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE is a heartfelt, gorgeous story."—Newsarma
 
"MINUTEMEN is a stunningly gorgeous piece of comic book art, from the first page to last. [Cooke is] an insanely talented writer and artist with a perfect grasp of comic book layout, innovative structures, nuanced characters, without sacrificing a sense of humor. MINUTEMEN is right at the top of the very best modern comic books have to offer."—Mtv Geek
 
"Darwyn Cooke has certainly delivered. MINUTEMEN is a gorgeously crafted comic book"—IGN
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Product Details

  • Series: Beyond Watchmen
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; First Edition edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401238920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401238926
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the great debate regarding DC's decision to launch "Before Watchmen," I remain a committed agnostic. Yes, Moore and Gibson's creations are unique, perhaps not only for their place in the evolution of the comic art form, but also as characters meant to occupy a singular storyline and go no further. And yes, one should understandably fear the possibility - hyperbole intentional - of these stories reading like "Hamlet - the Prequel." Yet characters passing from one creative team to another lays at the very DNA of superhero comics, part of what makes it a form unlike any other. After all, Moore and Gibson originally imagined their story populated by the Charlton Comics' characters (The Question, Blue Beatle, Captain Atom, etc) before deciding on thinly altered cast all their own. Do you feel like Moore "violated" Wojtkowsi and Ditko? Just as Kirby and Simon's Captain America passed into Brubaker's loving hands, should The Minutemen be any different?

One big caveat remains: new isn't always better. Nobody cares if some terrible writer becomes the next in line taking up the pen on Batgirl and does nothing interesting; if you are the second writer to take on Ozymandias, you'd better have something interesting to say. So how is "Before Watchmen: The Minutemen & Silk Spectre"? Not only is this the best volume of a decidedly mixed enterprise, it is also a surprisingly engaging read.

Cooke begins with a rather obvious choice: telling this story through the eyes of the First Nite Owl and his tell-all, "Under the Hood." He then pulls off a brilliant hat trick, combing through Moore & Gibson's original and presenting a Nite Owl who is about to reveal not just one former colleague's secret, but all their secrets. Nor does he stop there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Wan on July 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first heard that DC was attempting to create a series of works based on the Watchmen characters with the aim of backfilling their stories and details, it sounded like a cheap cash grab and like many fans of the original Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons work, was not receptive to it.

I took a wait and see attitude and decided to give it chance when I saw the high quality of the artists involved. It was well worth it.

This volume collects the issues concerning The Minutemen and the Second Silk Spectre.
If you don't know about the original work, who The Minutemen were and why there are two Silk Spectre, stop here and go read Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons.

Otherwise, this is a hard copy collected edition. The production values are nice although the inner binding is tight so it cuts a bit into the inner edge of some of the art.

Darwyn Cooke wrote and drew the Minutemen installment. He co-wrote the Silk Spectre part with Amanda Conner who many might recognize as having worked on Archie, Power Girl and Birds of Prey. The Minutemen part is wonderful. Cooke's earlier efforts on the Justice League: The New Frontier and the superb adaptation of Richard Stark's Parker series helps with his depiction of the 1930-1960's. Having lived through some of those years, I can vouch that he captures that whole hat wearing era. The whole series could have been a derivative mash that would barely qualify for fan-fiction but Cooke brings real subtlety and nuance to Hollis Mason, Byron Lewis, and the Silhouette. He adds a wonderfully appropriate extension to the tale of how "Under the Hood" was written and the final fate of Hooded Justice. It is simply terrific. If you are a fan of Watchmen this tale is worth getting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I read Watchmen a few years back and really enjoyed it so was looking forward to reading these new additions to the canon. Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm a fan of the original book, but never did see the movie and am not on the level of a groupie, just a one-time reader. These Before Watchmen books don't seem to be numbered so I stated with this one because it featured the Minutemen who were the precursors to the Watchmen. The book contains the two stories. First I just loved the 80s style art, both by Cooke and Conner. The Minutemen story was told in a flashback as the group had disbanded and Night Owl had written a tell-all book and was going around seeking approval from the former members, though receiving nothing but protestations to not publish the book. Through this we flashback to the forties and the whole story of the Minutemen. I wasn't particularly thrilled with the plot. I didn't like the book angle, it made Night Owl an unsympathetic character; I had no interest in the gay plots nor the revenge themes. It was interesting to get a background story on these guys but I certainly wouldn't be interested in any more stories about this team as they are not likable as a group at all. Silk Spectre is the daughter of one of the original Minutemen members and we get the story of her growing up until eventually she joins the newly formed Watchmen. I enjoyed this half much better. It was a much more entertaining story but I found her mother's character, Sally Jupiter, harder to like than in the Minutemen. Otherwise the angsty story of a teenager rebelling against her mother's training of her to take her place as a masked hero and her eventual realization that she is cut out to be in this line of work n spite of her mother was good and made me more interested in Silk.
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