DC Comics

Before Watchmen Leaves No Room for Complaints

It's not often that I find myself feeling the kinds of feelings that I was when I started reading Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1. Darwyn Cooke starts off with, what I read as, a commentary on what Alan Moore has meant to the comics industry. It's veiled as Hollis Mason speaking about what it meant to the rest of the costumed hero world when Doctor Manhattan stepped onto the scene and could fly and evaporate a man with barely a stray thought ... but it's also the kind of language that has oft been used to describe what it was like working in the comics industry (or for that matter reading comics) when Alan Moore crossed the Atlantic and started shaking things up in the world of American comics. 

The book begins with respect. And I think that is the most important aspect to what the book continues through to the final pages with. Are there some missteps? Of course. As has been mentioned online on many forums there is a bit of confusion between what is Hollis' novel and what is his internal monologue, which leads to some misinterpretation on the part of some readers. It's something that will be infinitely easy to fix in the collected edition. 

So let's talk about the feelings that I had when reading the comic. The first was relief. Relief that the book was going to be as good as I had hoped. That it wasn't going to be trite like I had feared. That it was as finely a crafted a comic as what I held in my hand. Relief isn't a feeling that you often have in the world of comics. Especially not when you've been reading them for close to 25 years or more. You try to not let your expectations build when you've been burned. And this was one of those rare times where I had let my hopes get past where I am usually comfortable letting them go. The internet is ablaze with people who are looking at this as a cash grab, as a slap in the face of one of the better talents that has ever plied his skill in the world of comics, as the last scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. This book is not that. This book is another great, unique voice in the world of comics showcasing what he can do with a finely crafted character. What he can do with one of the most well developed worlds to ever grace the pages of comics.

Which brings me to my second feeling. Awe. Darwyn Cooke has been one of my favorite creators since I first became aware of his work in the world of comics. And I feel like this is one of his finest efforts. He puts to use all of his abilities as a story teller and crafts a great, if not at times moving, story. Cooke's Hollis Mason is wistful. Is brimming with the desire to be able to return to a younger man's game. But at the same time seems comfortable with his decision to leave the world of heroics. 

The third feeling I had while reading Minutemen #1 didn't come until the end of the issue. Anticipation. I truly feel that if the rest of the Before Watchmen titles manage to even measure up to half of the first issue of Minutemen that the internet is ablaze for all the wrong reasons. These titles have the opportunity to serve as such a great supplement to what is considered to be the best graphic novel of all time. While I don't think that they will outpace the original, I don't think that was the intention. I think that the hope was that for those whose only experience in the world of comics was the pages of Moore & Gibbon's Watchmen to have something to entice them to try out other comics. To make them see that there are a bevy of other creators out there who are hoping to make their stories new favorites. 

If anything I hope that people will put their prejudices aside and pick up the book and give it a read. I think it has the power to change even the most concretely held opinions.

Geoff Johns Makes Things Dangerous Fast

Geoff Johns has long been the kind of guy who has written the kinds of comics that I long to read. The kind of stuff that makes me feel like the world of super heroes is more than just a genre but an artistic format. He makes me want to write better and more often than not he just plain makes me want to write. I first encountered his work on a book that most people probably aren't even aware that he wrote. It was the summer of 2002 and I hadn't yet started working for The Fantasy Shop but I had inklings that I might be getting the chance. I was living in Saint Charles for the summer after my Sophomore year of college at Lindenwood and I had wanted to get back into more of the stuff that Marvel was publishing since I was trying to get a job working for a comic store and thought that it might be in my best interest to be a little more aware of the whole of the comics industry and not just concern myself with the goings on of smaller press concerns and what little DC I was buying at the time. So I checked out 2 mutant books, an X-Factor miniseries written by Jeff Jensen, whom I have not seen anything published by since, and a Morlocks miniseries written by Geoff Johns ... who has since become one of the most important comic writers in the history of the business.

I would then go on to find out about his work on JSA and later Flash and by then I was in love with his narrative style, his skill with mystery, and his grasp of the characters he chose to tackle. This is still way before he ever became the Event writer that he has become today, but I think that his work with a wide variety of characters went a long way to prove that he was going to be the kind of writer that would someday take the world by storm.

It was his Flash run that would wind up enamoring most people to his work. And when he left The Flash everything kind of wandered around in a bit of a mire. Once he returned to the book people started getting excited again and while some delays have occurred because of things here and there it has maintained the kind of excitement that most people would expect around a Geoff Johns book.

While many people may be saying that they don't get why there needs to be a Flash-centric event right now I can assure you that this isn't really a Flash event so much as it is a Geoff Johns event. This is Geoff Johns writing an episode of The Outer Limits in the DC Universe. And I must admit it was pretty freaking cool. Add to it that you've got Andy Kubert drawing the interiors and that they're far enough ahead on the book that we shouldn't see any delays and you're in the right kind of mindset to understand just how cool this book is going to be.

And it's going to be really, really cool.

The world is different from that which we know and in so many more ways than one might have imagined. Seriously you are all going to want to check this book out. It's going to be the kind of fun that a Summer event should be. Honestly. It's the kind of thing that might have an impact on the DCU after it's all over but that should really be left by the wayside. We're talking about a book that's going to be really fun to read, really creative, innovative, and is going to challenge a lot of your preconceptions about what kind of stories Geoff Johns wants to tell you.