Last month my review of the Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre inaugural issue praised it for providing a feminine perspective, via Amanda Conner, to this series. Even though I feel the whole Before Watchmen enterprise is nothing more than high-budget fan fiction I can’t deny there are some decent issues that I’ve enjoyed more than I’d care to admit. Silk Spectre #2 is one of them, as it takes the hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s and intelligently turns it into a good versus evil story, where shifty corporate men are trying to dismantle the peace movement taking place in San Francisco almost 50 years ago.
Last issue saw Lori run away with her high school sweetheart Greg in a hippie van. This issue finds her in Frisco, living together under one roof with these pot-smoking suburbanites. However, being a superhero’s daughter is difficult to escape and Lori finds herself going out and patrolling the streets, eventually uncovering a capitalist conspiracy aimed at her generation. Apparently, the messages in rock records are telling children not to buy stuff and this is hurting the establishment, prompting the villains to create a new version of LSD that promotes consumerism. While Lori’s putting the pieces together she finds herself part of the corporate plot, imbibing the new LSD and unable to control herself. What will happen after she comes out of it?
Obviously, we know she becomes the second Silk Spectre but what prompts her to leave her hippie friends and start fighting crime full-time? I’m certain the next two issues will reveal all and I’m actually curious to see where this one is going. Unlike the Minutemen series, the Silk Spectre book is actually picking up and injecting something intelligent into the story. I didn’t care for the JFK and Marilyn Monroe assassinations in The Comedian’s series, as creating alternate political histories is almost cliché at this point, best left to The X-Files or some inane program on The History Channel. However, Silk Spectre is doing it from a different perspective, fusing corporate ambitions with those of the youth movement—it’s blending institutional power with social movements and doing it well. The authors have even done their research, mentioning and even quoting Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the original Acid Tests), claiming the new LSD used to promote consumerism is a variation on Kesey’s formula, which he stole while working in a mental hospital. Even though I object to this Watchmen prequel business as a whole I can’t deny some of the issues have been entertaining and even intelligent; Silk Spectre is turning into one of those.