Comic Book Review: ‘Before Watchmen – Silk Spectre’ #1

Posted Thursday, June 14th, 2012 04:00 pm GMT -4 by

Before Watchmen - Silk SpectreIn the second prequel to ‘The Watchmen,’ we examine the early years of Laurie Jupiter, the Silk Spectre, set in the mid 1960s.  Her mother, Sally was the first Silk Spectre, as we learned in last week’s ‘Minutemen’ comic, a manufactured super hero, designed to profit from the sudden boom in costumed crime fighters.  Sally is drilling Laurie constantly, training her to carry on her legacy and as a result, Laurie is an outcast at her high school.  One day she impresses a guy named Greg with her pole vaulting skills, but her mother arrives and interrupts their conversation.  He invites her out, but she says she’s busy.

Later, Laurie tries on her mother’s old costume in a comedic scene, before she is assaulted by a masked intruder.  They battle, then the intruder reveals himself to be… Sally in disguise.  Laurie vents her frustration at having her life so closely controlled and makes a jab at her mother’s provocative reputation.  Sally scolds her, but when she sees that Laurie is injured, her maternal instincts kick back in.

Sally has a conversation on the phone with Hollis Mason, seeking his advice, before she discovers that Laurie is missing.

She meets up with Greg at the high school’s track and beats him in a race.  They talk and realize they have a lot in common.  Greg’s father is also domineering.  An ex-Marine, he plans to force Greg to enlist as soon as he is eligible.

Amanda Conner Silk SpectreLater, they go to a diner but Laurie gets insulted by a popular girl named Betsy who tells her that, basically, everyone considers her mother a giant tramp.

Laurie angrily returns home and berates her mother, packs her bag and leaves.  Greg meets her outside and reveals that Laurie punched Betsy out in the diner.  He also tells her that he already knew about her mother and it didn’t matter to them.  They run off together and hitch a ride with a van full of hippies to San Francisco.

This actually felt a bit strange to me.  It was very light and romantic… even comedic at times.  I suppose that may be due to the time setting, the pristine Johnson era.  Oh don’t get me wrong, it was well-written and there were some nice details, but it didn’t feel like a “Watchmen” tie-in.

That said, though, there are some nice elements.  Many scenes feature dialogue interlaced with song lyrics.  This was a good idea, but it read a little choppy. The art is excellent!  Amanda Conner could draw a comic based on “The Waltons” and I’d buy it.  I mentioned the lighter, comedic elements and she works in some really sweet nuggets in the backgrounds and such.  Laurie experiences a couple of “cartoon” emotional reactions that are very charming.

So this book clashes with the dark and gritty source material, but overall, it was a nice read.  I’m sure things will grow darker as the series progresses.  But I think this was a solid effort.

Verdict: Buy

BEFORE WATCHMEN – SILK SPECTRE #1
Script by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner
Art and Cover by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts