Before Watchmen – Minutemen/Silk Spectre

I was convinced into reading this since having read the first and seeing both the extended cut of the movie and the stop-motion comic. We start with Hollis writing an introduction, then getting a call in response to his book, which apparently shows his descent into madness. We then go back to when Nite Owl was starting out and Hooded Justice was after some bank robbers and they go missing. They give the impression Sally Jupiter could have been in on it so they could control the press. So then we learn Hollis incorporated his being on the force to further his practice as a mask. Then we see a moment with a young Edward Blake; the dick. We’re also introduced to Byron Lewis. I’m enjoying the back-story snippets and the pretty pictures; I know, I sound like a simpleton, but they are nice. I like the Silhouette introduction and ends with how the Minutemen idea came about and how it started with posting an ad in the paper. Hollis meets Larry, his agent who is against his tell-all biography to Hollis’ annoyance. He knows it may ruffle some of his cohorts feathers, but he’s standing firm on its release. Then we see the auditioning process for the other “supers”. After Hollis makes it in, Metropolis masterminds the plans and everyone’s position in them. Their first mission takes down a smuggling ring and goes quite wrong, but instead of reporting it, Hollis is too scared and gets out of there with the rest.

Although the Minutemen have the intention of doing good, they are seekers of good press also, so when Silhouette brings up the child porn ring she could use help in crumbling, they decline because of the image it gives to the public. When they finish the meeting, Silhouette goes on her mission as the others intend to hang around and drink. Larry meanwhile is trying to get Sally to agree to pretend-whore herself out so he can make it seem like Hooded Justice and she were together; ah, the world they/we live. When we follow Silhouette with Mothman and Nite Owl looking for a missing boy, they discover blood and rope; these stories definitely don’t disappoint.

Hollis had a different viewpoint before detecting the missing boy, now deciding to leave the people-fixing alone and sticking to cars. He gets a visit from someone calling themselves a friend of Nelson’s regarding Hollis’ book, after. When he refuses to stop the process of publishing, Veldon, leaves with the decree Hollis will be hearing from their lawyers. Hollis feels the need to break the fantasy-image given from the press about the Minutemen and can’t let go of the truth he wants to share. We then go to Sally being attacked by the Comedian and what would be done about it as to whether he would be allowed to stay in the group. When Eddie doesn’t take the verdict seriously, he tries to point fingers at the rest of them, which were valid, but doesn’t change his actions. Also, if we had seen how young he was supposed to be in the movie, it would have given a different feel to how it played out. He was quite young, but it definitely doesn’t change what he did and became. The situation gets more serious before he finally decides to leave, spouting death threats as he goes.

A year after Eddie is being recruited by the FBI. Meanwhile, Hollis and Ursula meet once a week for coffee chats. Hollis breaks their rules of no last names or outside life talk, when he confesses his worries for Ursula’s safety he leaves a number he checks during late and early hours; he truly cared for her, it seems. Ursula is on a mission where she notices a young girl and loses her cool on the businessmen who surround her. Ursula calls Hollis for help and he tries to get to her as quickly as possible. Hollis then makes one realize how much horror one can take when denial is used as a coping mechanism. He goes to visit Byron who was severely changed by his experiences. Which doesn’t stop Hollis from trying to get an opinion about his book out of him, though. Then we go to 1946, when the Minutemen were still doing some good and celebrating, not knowing the consequences of the war which was ahead. Hollis made a promise to Ursula to look into some missing, then murdered children, which he felt obliged to do after she was expelled from the group. When Ursula is permanently expunged, Sally, in remorse, had help avenging Ursula and her partner. Sally finishes her confession and is approached by Eddie, making her apprehensive at first, but ends with them facing each other, he wanting to “talk”. Which they do, revealing to her his war horror story. He then shows some survivalist wisdom after his confession.

Hollis goes to Ursula’s apartment after her unfortunate demise, to clean up anything incriminating, but he wasn’t the first there, seeing other possessions left, which he takes with him, but not much is found. When he gets back to Byron’s hideout they both listen to the recorded tapes he discovered. The first contained Ursula’s experience during Hitler’s reign and her time at a children’s home half experiment house. Hollis goes to meet Sally and Laurie to talk about her opinion of his book. She thinks he’s changed his mind since Eddie has called her in distress and Larry having visited her recently about it as well. Sally gets upset once she realizes he still plans on publishing their dirty secrets and her vain and terrible experiences with Eddie as well as the murder she committed.

We skip back to Hollis and Byron trying to reveal evidence for Ursula’s case; blaming himself. They both continue to listen to the tapes Ursula made, which included them as well and gives us a more rounded view of their personalities from one of their own. Then Byron gets a call from Nelson who Hollis thought exaggerated some danger to get them to meet. They go and some “comic book” heroes await their arrival to inform them of an invasion they slowly start to take seriously. The young “comic” hero dies to save them from the disaster. The government quickly hushes the story to save face, though and makes the Minutemen’s involvement futile. Hollis stays with the boy as much as his job will allow until the radiation does its torturous worst. A couple of years later, they disband, but Hollis soldiers on for a promise he made, then Sally has Laurie not long after. A few years after, they are gathered to sign a loyalty oath and are made to unmask with an obvious two-way mirrored room. Byron loses his senses after signing the oath. We then skip ahead a few more years when Hollis is on duty and a missing boy is brought to his attention by a concerned mother who let her son go to the circus with some friends.

Hollis gets the feeling he’s missed something and investigates the circus, closed for awhile. He sees another masked “hero”, who Ursula mistrusted and follows him to the same place they found the other missing boy and proceeds to get a beating which ripens him like a pumpkin and cracks a couple ribs as well. In the morning Hollis comes to, and he sees the boy, speaking some comforting words before blacking out again. Hollis does eventually help the boy, which the city rewards him for. Hooded Justice disappears after which makes Hollis want to hunt him much more and so goes to Nelson for help, but he was almost too liquor-ed up and feeling sorry for himself to help, until the right question was asked and led to a possible spot Hooded Justice might still be using as a safe house. Hollis and Byron do some damage which Nelson cleans up and leads to Byron retiring as Hollis goes on. Hollis then gets a visit from Eddie about his not publishing his book and what he’d found out about Ursula from her information about Hooded Justice, which leads to a harsh truth Hollis would now have to face about his own actions. He then publishes his book minus the part Eddie threatened him to leave out and he goes on working in his auto shop Byron had made a gift for him before his leaving.

The next section begins with how Sally has raised Laurie and now she’s fed up with not having a social life, meeting a boy who’s been wanting to spend time with her and realizing they have certain parental-strangeness in common. It threatens the other girl in the soda shop and Laurie comes back angered over the words said, ready to leave. She gets stopped outside by the boy she saw and he reveals how he’d found out about her mother, then after professing his love, they hitch a ride with some friendly passersby. Laurie does put her training to good use on her own and writes to Hollis so he and her mother don’t worry as much, whilst explaining her staying away “for now”. One thing is definitely clear to me, Sally is rather close to what Laurie thinks of her. It only makes it more clear how vindictive she is even when she shouldn’t be taking out her own frustrations on her daughter. She’ll use any means necessary to get her selfish needs met. In conclusion,The Minutemen was more interesting story-wise, but Silk Spectre was easier to read and both were generally enjoyable; overall, worth it. The second Before Watchmen I chose to review is, here.


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