DC Comics is publishing a number of titles under the Before Watchmen story arc, which leads up to the events in the “Watchmen.” The second title in the prequel series follows the relationship between the first and second Silk Spectre characters, who just happen to be mother and daughter.
Issue #1 of four in the series entitled “Silk Spectre” begins with the breakup of Sally Jupiter’s marriage. Her husband leaves her and her young daughter Laurie to fend for themselves. Flash forward to 1966, Laurie is in high school and is an accomplished athlete. Laurie has little time in her schedule for anything other than studying and training, yet she has a crush on her classmate Greg. Greg is smitten with Laurie as well and wants to meet her for a date at the track at nine. Her mother Sally has other aspirations for her daughter. She is to assume the mantle of Silk Spectre II. Donning her costume and feeling a bit downtrodden, Laurie settles down on the couch to watch television and skim through a love story when she is attacked by a masked intruder.
The masked fiend and Laurie engage in a terrific hand-to-hand battle, which destroys the living room. Laurie’s drilling and training pay off and she defeats and unmasks the intruder, which turns out to be her own mother, Sally. It seems Sally wants to keep her daughter on her toes. Both have minor injuries, but Laurie is furious over the surprise training attack and leaves via her bedroom window to meet Greg for their date.
Greg and Laurie hook up and spend time discussing their futures. Greg talks about joining the Marines, and Laurie talks about following in her mother’s footsteps. They decide to make a late night visit to the local soda shop where a group of girls from high school hang out. The girls take offense to Greg bringing Laurie into the place. Betsy, the leader of the group, confronts Laurie in an attempt to intimidate and belittle her. She makes a bad choice by throwing whip cream in Laurie’s face. In response, Laurie lays Betsy out on the floor. Rushing home with Greg, Laurie packs her bags and leaves with her new boyfriend. They both profess their love for one another, kiss, and jump onboard a Volkswagen bus with a bunch of dirty hippies to hitch a ride to San Francisco. At home, Sally sits and drinks herself into a stupor.
Writers Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner’s premiere issue does an admirable job of fleshing out the background of the Jupiters from Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” masterpiece. The tension between mother and daughter, which was present in Moore’s story, is expanded on with credibility. I look forward to seeing how the story plays out and how Laurie steps into the boots of Silk Spectre II. Also, Cooke and Conner give ground to Sally’s issue with drinking, and her loathing and pining over Eddie Blake (The Comedian.) Conner’s artwork gives the look and feel of the appropriate ages of the characters. The illustrations add insight into the character’s thoughts and emotions and makes the story simple to follow.
Finally, there is an attached two-page back up story that is a continuation of “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair: The Devil in the Deep” (part two) story, which debuted in the first issue of “Minutemen.” The story follows a sailor, Mister McClachlan, who witnesses his shipmate being keelhauled for a petty theft. After the horribly mutilated body of his crewmate is pulled from the water, Mister McClachlan is outraged by the orders of Captain Chane, and the lack of compassion for the dead man. He decides to gallantly take matters into his own hands and points a gun at the captain while accusing him of “Cruelty and Butchery.” Unfortunately, the captain isn’t worried. He is covered by another member of the crew who gets the drop on Mister McClachlan by pointing a gun at his head. The next installment of this story will continue in the first issue of the “Comedian.” Until then, fans will have to wait.
The “Silk Spectre” script is written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, with art by Amanda Conner, coloring by Paul Mounts, and lettering done by Carlos M. Mangual. “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair: The Devil in the Deep (Part Two) is by Len Wein & John Higgins, and is lettered by Sal Cipriano. The comic is Rated M for Mature Readers.
Here are the other titles in the Before Watchmen series: “Minutemen,” “Comedian,” “Nite Owl,” “Ozymandias,” “Rorschach,” and “Doctor Manhattan.”