My experience of Darwyn Cooke revolves around his Catwoman run which I enjoyed. He has a classic art style and would fit well in the 80s but actually feels quite refreshing in the modern age. He has taken on an unenviable task of Before Watchmen, which raised heavy criticism from pretty much everyone prior to publishing. He is writing Minutemen, which is a story focusing around the original Nite Owl and the initial superhero team. It gives room for character building and story because only a small historical perspective was given in the original Watchmen. This is issue three of six and the plot is progressing quite well with a variety of themes developing.
The book is set in the 60’s and focuses upon key highlights of Minutemen, Hollis and Ursula. This is a good time period within which explore religion, sexuality and morality. Hollis, who is Nite Owl, is clearly a man disturbed by the image the Minutemen represent and the actual good that they do. The morality of the group is questioned with the attempted rape of Spectre and the response of the Comedian after expulsion. He seems to be the only one who sees the truth and realises the joke, a similar theme to the original character balancing well with Nite Owl’s perspective. Homosexuality and religious debate is embarked upon with the revelation of male gay characters and the typical Christian religious responses. This is developed upon with Ursula getting injured whilst trying to save a child and having hallucinations in a church. Hollis saves her and develops feelings for her without realising her true saviour is her lesbian nurse partner. This nicely complements traditional viewpoints and adds to the realistic greying process of the above themes.
The book is complex and incorporates select events occurring at different times to develop the book’s major themes. The writing varies from thought boxes to long conversations to hallucinations. It is almost separated into three distinct acts and parts are very dialogue heavy. The artwork is very well suited to the time period and characters and is kept simple. The scenes move fluidly on the page with the impressively Watchmen loyal nine panel page layouts. The best parts of the book are the synchronous scenes of Ursula’s attempted rescue and her recovery with her lover. A similar effect is achieved with the insertion of panels from a Minutemen promotion comic that was printed in story showing the ideals of the superheroes. This offsets the dark undertones of the Minutemen to the standards they wished they could uphold. The book is certainly ambitious and even though it combines different strategies, it holds up well. I can see the book progressing to a cold grim resolution to the challenges presented, as the future to the characters is essentially known.