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by Garon Cockrell
Before Watchmen Hardcovers Review: Part 1
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By Garon Cockrell
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June 20, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Before Watchmen was DC's prequel to the best-selling graphic novel of all time, Watchmen. The fans (myself included) were very skeptical about the title. However, most of the comics were pretty great and really stuck to the source material.
DC is releasing four hardcovers consolidating the titles. The first two, Before Watchmen: Minutemen and Silk Spectre and Before Watchmen: Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair are being released on June 26th.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen was the title I was looking forward to the most in the Before Watchmen Series. The six issues are written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke (DC: The New Frontier), Minutemen perfectly captures the mood and time period during the formation of the original team. Also, he's managed to use several familiar motifs Dave Gibbons used (such as clocks) to visually tie into the Watchmen story.
It follows Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl, as he is writing his tell-all Under the Hood. It tells his origin and chronicles his alliance and troubles with the Minutemen. Cooke has created a brilliantly dark and entertaining story line exposing the corruption within the Minutemen through the eyes of a hero cop turned hero.
Also written by Darwyn Cooke, is the four issue Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre. The artwork by Amanda Conner (Powergirl) has that Archie Comics / Mary Jane Watson feel to it. Silk Spectre focuses on the early years of Silk Spectre II, Laurie. It delves into the strained relationship between her and her mother, Sally. She runs away from home, but doesn't shirk her superhero duties because she kicks ass all the way.
This hardcover has a really great artwork section featuring Darwyn Cooke's drawings of each Minutemen member, as well as every cover for both titles.
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias is written by Len Wein (Swamp Thing), who was the editor for the original Watchmen story. Wein's writing is great, but it is truly brought alive by Jae Lee's (The Dark Tower) stunning visuals. Featuring the World's Smartest Man, this six issue arc tells of the character's upbringing and unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Similar to how Minutemen's artwork pays homage to Gibbons' originals, Jae Lee uses a lot of circular and symmetrical panel layout in Ozymandias. DC seemed to do a great job of picking writer/artist teams that could really capture and do justice to such an iconic title.
Before Watchman: The Crimson Corsair was featured as the back-up chapters for most of the Before Watchmen titles. Based upon The Black Freighter story in Watchmen, this Len Wein and John Higgins (the colorist for Watchmen) joint effort is like a dark Pirates of the Caribbean / The Walking Dead.
Additionally, this hardcover also features the one-shot, Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill written by Len Wein and drawn by Steve Rude (Nexus). This tells the story of Dollar Bill, originally hired as a bank mascot he gets more than he bargained for after stopping some thieves.
All of these titles really expand the Watchmen Universe without ruining the original. The Deluxe Edition Hardcovers are very nice and look great on the shelf! Tonally, they are both darker than your average superhero comic, which speaks volumes about the world Alan Moore created.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen and Silk Spectre & Before Watchmen: Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair are both a 10 out of 10 Smiley Faces!
Be sure to pick up Before Watchmen: Minutemen and Silk Spectre & Before Watchmen: Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair on June 26th.
Also, look for Before Watchmen: Comedian and Rorschach & Before Watchmen: Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan on July 10th.

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