Silk Spectre #1 Comic Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 15, 2012
When DC Comics announced that they were going to produce more Watchmen stories without Alan Moore, it created a huge controversy. Issues such as creator’s rights and touching the holy bible of comics being the two biggest. We decided to not just give you one opinion on the first issues, but several. With a subject as broad and diverse as the comic, its characters, and the controversy behind it, we thought this was only fair.
Review:Now that the initial wave of hype for Before Watchmen has calmed a bit, and people are going about their lives either accepting or ignoring it, we can finally settle in a bit. Last week's Minutemen #1 was a broad, era defining story, but this week's Silk Spectre #1 feels much more like, well, settling in. And that's not a bad thing I am happy to report. If settling in means a well told character piece, then Before Watchmen will continue to impress. What we get is a high school aged Laurie Jupiter yearning for a normal life, away from her mother's (Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre) incessant training. The issue plays out much like a typical high school romance, with maybe a few slight shades of Stephen King's Carrie. There's truly no action or superhero moments in the entire issue, but the absolute kick in the face moment that happens in a diner towards the end of the issue more than makes up for it. Laurie is haunted by the spectre of her mother's past (pun intended), and it all culminates in a moment you will never see in a mainstream book.
Darwyn Cooke shows that he can write outside of the dripping nostalgia he's become known for, and Amanda Connor puts in some of her best work in recent memory. Her clean and detailed art really lets the emotions show in the character's expressions. There's a few panels of Laurie trying on the Silk Spectre costume that visually tells you more than any dialogue could ever hope to. Connor also decided to embrace Dave Gibbons' nine panel grid structure for most pages, and it fits perfectly with the story. There's also some interesting choices made with bits of radio and television sound bites, and a few very cartoon style panels used to illustrate Laurie's thoughts and feelings.
I definitely recommend this book for it's well drawn characters and Amanda Conner's phenomenal art. It's a big departure from last week's offering, and I hope to be continually surprised by the tone of each subsequent Before Watchmen book.
Review: Before Watchmen continues this week with Silk Spectre #1 although it might have been better titled as the plural version “Silk Spectres” as the issue focuses equally on the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter, as well as her daughter Laurie, who wore the costume during the Watchmen series. The story is set in the mid-1960s with a 17 year-old Laurie living an unhappy life with her Joan Crawfordesque mother. Laurie spends all her time training and studying with virtually no outside personal life. Mom even puts on a mask to make random surprise attacks on Laurie to test her ability to defend herself. Laurie is bullied by the “in” girls at school, largely do to her mother’s less than wholesome reputation. Life reaches a boiling point when she begins to fall in love with a boy at school who has his own overbearing father from whom he is trying to get away.
My initial thought upon finishing Silk Spectre #1 was to wonder what is the end game? Sally Jupiter’s tarnished past has been touched on previously so what writers Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner primarily achieve is giving us a glimpse into Laurie’s past. We know Sally never reveals to Laurie who her biological father is, of course so the main thrust is the dissolution of the relationship between mother and daughter. But frankly there isn’t enough here to fill a full issue. So Laurie grew up in a single-parent household with a strict mother and she became a rebellious teen. Welcome to a million other households during the turbulent 1960s. Seeing a bit more about Laurie’s background, especially since she wasn’t as well-defined as some of the other characters is fine however I’m not sure there’s a straight line to connect this story with the Watchmen series.
I wasn’t one of those opposed to the Before Watchmen titles. There’s no harm in further fleshing out their world but so far what we’ve got is akin to an inker solidifying the lines of a penciller’s work but we’re still waiting for the color to be added. Speaking of art I enjoyed Conner’s work. Reminds me a bit of Alan Davis’ work with a very clean and lush look.
Review:Week two of the BEFORE WATCHMEN series brings a look at SILK SPECTRE and her early exploits. However I definitely feel like the original WATCHMEN tale (and the character’s origins) is just getting rehashed albeit in bite size portions. Maybe rehashed is not the right word. More like “WATCHMEN-Lite.” The malaise of examining each character per week per issue just feels flat to me. Most of what there is to read is really nothing new. Nothing stood out that the die hard or even the casual GN reader is learning that we did not already know from the original opus.
Amanda Conner’s art is good enough but I was hoping that Darwyn Cooke would be at the helm for the entire project. Now it just feels like random one-shots for star artists to showcase their talents. Even more bothersome is the lack of a storyline that I could really invest in. It felt like reading a glossed over issue of a sixties women’s lib pamphlet right before the “free love” movement. I just did not care enough about a young Silk Spectre running off and hitching a ride on a VW van. I guess my main complaint is that I do not know what the series in and of itself is trying to be. Right now all I can say is that it has been boring thus far.
Review:In this, the second release from the bank of coming Watchmen prequels, we follow the high school misadventures of Silk Spectre to be, Laurie Juspeczyk. It's not all peaches and roses for Ms. Jupiter, as we get a bit of exposition around the departure of her step father and then hunker down into her tortured high school existence. Her mother (Sally Jupiter, the first Silk Spectre) forces a rigorous training regimen upon her, to the exclusion of having an actual normal social life. We're primarily focused on the mother daughter tensions here as a rogue element is introduced to the equation: teenage love.
The tone of the story reminds me of early Ultimate Spiderman, with the angst cranked up to eleven. We're given an unflinching glance at a mother driven by paranoia and loneliness as she closes her fist too tightly, loosing her daughter through the gaps between her fingers. Darwin Cooke contributes here again, this time collaborating on the script with Amanda Conner, who drew the book. The art here is good, with a few standout features. There are emotional moments that make excellent use of the shared familial facial expressions of Laurie and Sally; it deepens the impact. The most inspired panels though, are the single abstracts dedicated to visually explaining actually how Laurie is feeling. They're impressive and awesome.
This is an interesting book but it did not suck me in to nearly the level of Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1. I've never found Laurie/Silk Spectre II that interesting, which I'm certain has something to do with it. It might have been wiser to release the first book of a more interesting character first. I'm not sure I'll pick up the remaining three issues of this series until they're released collected.
Mania Grade: C+
Issue #: 1 of 4
Written By: Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner
Artist: Amanda Conner
Publisher: DC Comics
Digital Download Price: $3.99