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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
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.
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?
"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
Top customer reviews
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.
The second tale concerns the life of the second Silk Spectre. It has a lot less "action" than the first because it is focused on why Laurie, the daughter of the first Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter chose to follow in the same line of work being an adventurer. Amanda Conner's art helps convey the mixture of goofiness, hormone driven confusion and simple good heartedness along with a realization that life is complicated and sometimes there are no easy answers just hard decisions one has to live with.
Again, this is a collection which I think would be enjoyable to anyone who liked the tone of the original work - Cooke really has done a terrific job. Many fans and I believe Alan Moore himself noted that Hollis Mason is probably the most normal person and the one hero that he would enjoy knowing were he a real figure. Cooke gives us all more reasons to still like Hollis and appreciate there are often many truths and not just a truth. A great work.
Silk Spectre story was fitting to the character, but wasn't as interesting as any of the other prequels. Could have been done in a 1 shot instead.