First Impressions: Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, The Massive
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Despite all the controversy caused by the mere existence of the Before Watchmen stories, the first two issues have turned out pretty good. Though that might be attributed to them having the same author in Darwyn Cooke.
The first installment of the Silk Spectre’s four-issue miniseries shows us a teenage Laurie Juspeczyk in 1966. Her mother Sally, the original Silk Spectre, has completely taken control of her life, refusing to allow her to socialize in favor of constantly molding her into a successor. But when things heat up between Laurie and her friend Greg, her rebellious streak comes out and she starts to struggle against her mother’s grip.
The teen angst bit is obviously as old as time, but it feels like natural territory to head into given the way Laurie talked about her mother in Watchmen. It’s mostly textbook teen vs. mom stuff, with the exception of the first three pages, which take us back to a moment in Laurie’s childhood. Apparently her “father” (I’m trying to steer clear of Watchmen spoilers) has just left again, and Laurie says she hates him. Sally comes back with: “Oh sweetie, you’re too young to hate. Wait until you’re older and the world gives you a good reason. Trust me, it won’t let you down.” Yeesh. Parenting 101, folks. Still, it’s a great scene that illustrates how Sally really does love her daughter, despite what a lousy parent she is. There’s an image of her with tears in her eyes (right, second panel, middle row) that’s very well done.
Yes, as was the case with Minutemen, the art is the real selling point here. Conner’s art has more of an animated style than we’re used to seeing the Watchmen characters in, especially when it comes to the cartoony asides she throws in. But she hits all the right notes in terms of where Laurie’s emotions should be relating to her mother, paving the road to how she’ll feel in 20 years when we get to Watchmen. Cooke and Conner also makes use of the 3×3 panel formatting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons used. So the issue at least feels consistent in terms of the way art is laid out.
Silk Spectre isn’t high on my Before Watchmen priority list, but it seems harmless enough. The art is fun, and Cooke seems to know his way around a frustrated teenager. But I’m not rushing to come back.
It’s actually a little bit like Waterworld. But there’s no pee drinking…yet.
The Massive takes place a year after a series of catastrophic events have irrevocably changed the world. Such events include giant, apparently inexplicable storms and fires, as well as massive damage to one of the polar ice caps. The world we knew is now covered in water, and most of Earth’s population is gone. A group of oceanic activists aboard their vessel, Kapital, are searching for their missing sister ship, the Massive, when they’re attacked by pirates.
This is one of those books where the premise is better than anything we see from the characters. At least that’s the case at this point. Our leader is Callum Israel, and old school Green Arrow looking guy who’s pushing a pacifist agenda pretty hard. In contrast we have Mary, who’s not afraid to do what she has to in order to survive this strange new world. We meet a few others, but those two were the standouts. There’s nobody to really latch on to at this point. That’s somewhat understandable, as we have an entire post-apocalyptic world to set up in this issue. But I would have liked something from somebody.
I’d have enjoyed an extra tease as to why Israel is so adamant about his crew putting down their weapons. The issue includes some supplement material which tells us he used to be a a corporate mercenary, but left the job of his own accord. Obviously we’re not going to learn much about his reasoning up front, but a little something might have been nice.
No complaints about the art here. The coloring is rather subdued, which makes sense given that we’re looking at a world where something has either happened to hinder our view of the sun, or the surrounding mist simply creates that atmosphere. The flashbacks and exposition scenes also have a yellowish hue to them, which lends them a distinct look.
I’m not head over heels for The Massive, but it’s piqued my interest a bit more than the average book. Give the characters a little time to cook, and this title could be really, really good.
Front page image from bleedingcool.com. Image 2 from comicbookcritic.com.