I suppose we can blame this on the Siegel and Schuster lawsuit. There must have been some sort of provision in the settlement that meant that DC had to go find other creators works to
rob blindly honor with “retellings” and “re-imaginings”. Truth be told, that is the only reason I can think of for DC to think that the “Before Watchmen” books were a good idea. Well, that and the bucket loads of cash they are expecting fanboys to shell out for these ill-planned, half thought-out, and apparently hastily put together comics that absolutely nobody was clamoring for.
Whether or not you enjoyed the original Watchmen is beside the point here. In its 12 issue run, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were able to tell a complete story spanning the course of decades. Let me say that again, a complete story. What we have in Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 is a mishmash of vignettes, showing what the Minutemen were up to before their formation. Vignettes that add nothing to the characters as they were introduced in the original book.
Darwyn Cooke does an adequate job here handling both the writing and the artwork. I can imagine he was quite worried about the comparisons being drawn between his work here and Moore and Gibbons work on the original. Mr. Cooke, you may rest assured, nobody will be drawing comparisons between your work and theirs. Don’t get me wrong, Cooke is a gifted creator in his own right, but comparing those two works would be like comparing Bill Watterson and Henri Rousseau. They both drew tigers, but that’s where the comparison falls apart.
On the plus side you do get to see Hollis Mason fighting crime at his prime, and The Silhouette rescuing a kid being kidnapped to be used in a child pornography ring. You see how Silk Spectre gained her notoriety by having an agent who would pay off the cops. You see Dollar Bill being a corporate shill. As an added bonus, you also get to see Captain Metropolis in the bubble bath, calling his manservant, “boy”. Hooded Justice, a hero who wears the key to defeating him around his neck (admittedly, that one is all Moore and Gibbon’s fault. Who decides to be a superhero by tying a noose around his own neck?) Oh yes, and the Comedian is still an asshole. But that’s it. The entirety of this book in a single paragraph. Which is not nearly enough for me to recommend anyone ever buy this book. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need something strong to help me forget this ever happened.