|Self-portrait of Darwyn Cooke. Not shown: Oliver Sava throwing all those confetti and flowers...|
Minutemen in particular is a highly problematic story which deserves as dense a critique as anyone is willing to give it, if only because of the narrative which Cooke himself invested with such importance in the run-up to the series; allegedly, Cooke was approached by Didio to partake in Before Watchmen but turned the offer down, mentioning his unease at working without the original creators' consent. But then - oh, frabjuous day - SUCH a GOOD IDEA came to Cooke that he couldn't resist the project and he came back, apparent misgivings irrelevant.
The "great idea" Cooke had was apparently to tell all of the stories which were too dark to go into Hollis Mason's "warm and fuzzy" memoirs, an idea that had promise except that Mason's autobiography as it was excerpted in Watchmen was far from expurgated and bowdlerized. Still, in trying to create this new narrative, Cooke created an incriminating document diminishing the rape and character of Sally Jupiter, recast the Minutemen as traditional action hero adventurers, objectified its female characters and gloried in the exploitation of their bodily injury, and generally traded in slurs and stereotypes. As great ideas go, this was a corker. Again, I recommend the Hooded Utilitarian articles.
So anyway, still, some parts of Before Watchmen stand out, in no small part because I certainly don't think any of the writers brought their "A" Game to the show. Personally, I've always appreciated Cooke as a visual storyteller but never understood the appeal so many found in his writing, which struck me as plodding and generally derivative of a few infertile tropes gathered from the lowest brow comics and men's adventure novels. I mean, he's perfect for mainstream comics then, but still ...
As a for-instance, part of Cooke's amazing, wonderful, too-good-to-miss out idea for The Minutemen involved making them effectively indistinguishable from the superheroes of any other mainstream comic, including a "wacky superhero tryouts" scene which is tonally inappropriate even for this far-afield extrapolation of the concepts created in Watchmen.
|Good lord, that "Slut" joke ...|