Last month I spat venom at the Before Watchmen: Minutemen book, partly because I felt a 32 page comic wasn’t lengthy enough for the story and also because it’s a Watchmen prequel. I still feel this way about Minutemen #1 and still feel the story felt hurried, with writer/artist Darwyn Cooke jamming too much into the allotted pages. After finishing the second Minutemen installment I don’t feel he’s pushing too much into such a small space; instead I feel like Cooke’s taking ideas from Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen and extrapolating on them without restraints. What I mean by this is that things Moore suggests about the Minutemen in the original book is being taken to another level by Cooke, with him running roughshod over the original source material. Whether Moore intended these characters to possess certain attributes is not the issue here but rather Cooke’s attempt at blatant sensationalism via Moore’s writing.
Obviously Moore brought a certain amount of sexual tension and “perversion” into the Minutemen—Silhouette was a lesbian, The Comedian an attempted rapist, and Hooded Justice is accused of having violent sexual tendencies—but Cooke’s expansion on this takes the intrigue away, making these characters into the embodiment of whatever sexual fantasies Cooke wishes upon them. Where Moore alludes to the psychosexual subtext in the superhero genre, Cooke is displaying it. I’m not a prude but I think Cooke might’ve missed Moore’s point, where it’s not just a critique of the characters but of the genre as a whole.
Aside from this I actually thought this issue was more entertaining than the first one, showing the Minutemen’s first real missions. Instead of a jumble of introductions and origin stories, like last month, this issue devotes more time to the Minutemen at work, even if their first mission was a grandiose blunder. If the action stays like it was in this issue it’s quite possible the remaining four installments will be enjoyable.
Still narrated by Hollis Mason (the original Nite-Owl), this issue continues on with the supplemental version of Mason’s autobiography Under the Hood. The artwork, also by Cooke, attempts to look like a classic comic book but instead is reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series (but the ‘90s Batman cartoon was much more aesthetically pleasing). I’ve seen what Cooke can do outside of this—for instance, his work on Catwoman is quite entertaining and solid—but his efforts at nostalgia fall a little short here.