First of all, judge this book by its cover: it has a bright and colorful '60s pop art feel, peppered with the faces of important adults in the life of young Laurie Jupiter, and that’s a pretty succinct summation of the issue’s contents. Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner are not telling a superhero story; instead, this is an account of Laurie’s lost teenage years. If you’ve read Watchmen, you already know that Laurie has a strained relationship with her mother Sally, the original Silk Spectre, and this issue digs a bit deeper into the complexities of their relationship, on both ends. From the very first page, the theme of the story is prominently presented, and a charming narrative device reinforces that theme throughout the issue. This first issue is reminiscent of many other coming-of-age stories set in the '60s, and has a light-hearted, youthful feel; however, there are some very dark moments peppered throughout (there’s a scene between Laurie and one of her witchier classmates that is exceptionally mean-spirited), and despite the fairly optimistic tone, this is the Watchmen universe we’re talking about---nothing good can last.
I’m really digging Amanda Conner’s art, as well. All of the characters have such expressive faces that it’s easy to key in on exactly what they’re feeling and thinking in each frame, and it helps to drive home the more emotional moments in the story.
For those of you wondering whether or not Silk Spectre can be enjoyed without having ever read Watchmen, I would say yes. There are a few finer character points that might not be immediately clear, and you will definitely miss the issue's subtle nods to its source material, but I think the book is strong enough to stand on its own merits. If you are on the fence about Before Watchmen in general or Silk Spectre specifically, I would say give it a shot. It’s a solid first issue that lays the groundwork for a bittersweet story set in a harsh world.
And now it’s time for:
JORDAN ATTEMPTS TO FIGURE OUT THE CRIMSON CORSAIR BACK-UP STORY USING ONLY THE BITS IN SILK SPECTRE
This first time it will be a little easier, since I’ve only missed the first two pages in the back of Minutemen.
Ok, so McClachlan is our protagonist, and, apparently, Captain Chane is not a super nice guy. He had some dude named Vole dragged behind or on the ship for some reason (probably petty), and now Vole is not in great shape. McClachlan tries to call the captain out on his cruelty, but whoops! Looks like the crew is too afraid to stand behind him. Seems like poor (first mate?) McClachlan is headed for a mutineer’s fate . . .