The Nite Owl flies again
This has been a huge couple of years for comic book news, and DC has been one of the frontrunners for the most shocking. One of their biggest announcements was a series of stories called “Before Watchmen,” which would serve as prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s epic story of crime fighters in the real world.
In Minutemen, Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl, starts to write his book and describe the team of masked adventurers that came together to help thwart the growing crime problems in the 1940’s. His tale seems to be full of excitement and wonder, but the more he tells the darker everyone’s future becomes.
Darwyn Cooke is writing and drawing this entire series, and that’s what really brought me to the book. I’ve always been a fan of Cooke’s storytelling style and his art screams Golden Age adventure. Together the story and the artwork are both dynamic and intriguing, and I found myself completely entertained the entire time.
The simple idea of more Watchmen stories not done by the original art team has sparked a lot of negative reactions in fans and readers. Not just long time comic book fans, but fans of all famous epic stories. I think I might have been one of the few people who were on the fence about the idea.
Alan Moore has created some incredible literary work. His comics all have strong characters, powerful themes, and deliver on so many levels that entire courses could be dedicated to them.
The problem with working in the mainstream in comics is that your characters aren’t often your own to control after you leave them. DC Comics owns the Watchmen property and characters, and they can continue or expand on their stories if they’d like -- its just part of the business. I do believe that creators should have control of their own properties and characters, but that battle can’t always be won. If a publisher has the right to do more stories about characters published under their banner they're going to do it. You just have to hope that people put in the same about of care and love that the original creators did when they created the source material.
So how does this book measure up to the original source material? Well, here’s something that is definitely going to fuel my decision – I like Darwyn Cooke more than I like Alan Moore. It’s just personal taste. For taking an impossible task, Cooke has written and produced a very good comic that expands on the Minutemen without changing anyone’s core history or backgrounds.
I’d recommend it for fans of masked heroes of the 1940’s, and people who always wanted a little more Minutemen in the Watchmen story. I can’t say that the other “Before Watchmen” books will lure me in, but Cooke’s unique style did.