Between the Panels – Before Watchmen: Minutemen Issue 1 and Harbinger Issue 1

Very interesting week in comics especially over at DC. This week we saw the first release of the controversial new series Before Watchmen, the first of these being Minutemen issue 1. If you don’t know why the release of this has been so controversial is because this series is taking a look at what happened before the famous Alan Moore series Watchmen took place, aptly named I know. These miniseries are taking a look at everyone from The Minutemen to Silk Spector and Mr Moore has nothing to do with them. People are worried that the new stories are going to be terrible and not do well for continuity AND the biggest worry was that they would just be rehashes of stories already told in the original story. Will that be the case? Check out my review of Before Watchmen Minutemen below.

There was a second big news item for DC that was brought to light yesterday, a few weeks ago DC said that one of their characters in the DC New 52 relaunch was going to be gay. Yesterday with the releases of the weekly new comics it was shown that the Green Lantern is the character they have created to be gay. Relax, when I say Green Lantern I don’t  mean Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardener or Kyle Rayner, I mean Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2 and previously, before the reboot, the superhero known as Sentinel after Earth 2 and Earth 1 joined together. One thing to mention is that Alan isn’t coming out in this comic, he’s been openly gay for years, this is just him getting***SPOILER***engaged to his long time boyfriend. So that’s it for news in comics this week, on to reviews!

WARNING: PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THESE COMICS THIS POST MAY CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS OF THE COMICS BEING REVIEWED!

Comic: Before Watchmen: Minutemen Issue 1

Publisher: DC Comics

Author: Darwyn Cooke

Artists: Darwyn Cooke and Phil Noto

I am a big fan of Watchmen, it is probably one of my favouite comics, it is also one of 4 or 5 comics that got me into reading comics after I saw what could be done in this specific medium. Alan more has actually had a lot to do with me getting into comics as V For Vendetta, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are some of the first comics I ever read. As I said above there were some worries about the Before Watchmen books, I personally subscribed to the “I haven’t read it yet so I don’t know how I feel about it” train of thought, so this first month of Before Watchmen will form my opinion. That being if this first issue is any indication Before Watchmen is going to be great, not anywhere near as earth shattering as the original Watchemen was but still spectacular. This issue hit all of the important spots, the story it was telling was compelling, the pacing was great, no lulls in the story telling, the art matched scene for scene and it changed periodically to match the story better.

The story for this issue is basically Hollis Mason telling us a brief origin of all the vigilantes that eventually became members of The Minutemen and towards the end he talks about how Captain Metropolis began bringing them together to form The Minutemen. For those of you who haven’t read Watchmen or seen the movie, The Minutemen are the group of vigilantes that preceded the Watchmen, that’s all you really need to know, you learn more about their fate in the comic and I’m assuming we’ll get a good taste of that in this comic. Something cool that they are doing in Before Watchmen is that at the end of each issue they are doing a pirate story called “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” which is a cool throwback to the original Watchmen comic.

As I said the art was great, at the beginning it had a very 80’s feel to it and then when the story kicked back to the late 30s it changed to fit that time perfectly. During that time they showed Hooded Justice doing his thing and in a drawing where the colours were all kinda washed out and not very bold here comes this solid black hooded character with a BRIGHT red cape, it was a really cool contrast. It does this affectively throughout the rest of the comic, slight changes as it shows the origins of each of the future members of The Minutemen. 

Before Watchmen: Minutemen Issue 1:  8.5/10

***

Comic: Harbinger Issue 1

Publisher: Valiant Comics

Author: Joshua Dysart

Artists: Khari Evans, Ian Hannin, Arturo Lozzi, Mico Suayan, Doug Braithwaite, and Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic

This comic is the beginning of my attempt to broaden my comic horizons by picking up a comic I’m unfamiliar with every week, one that is not published by DC or Marvel, Dark Horse is even kind of pushing it. Harbinger is the second series in Valiant comics attempt to reboot themselves, they were a pretty dominant force in comics in the 90s but just kind of disappeared. They started their reboot last month with X-O Manowar which I have not yet read but plan on doing so in the near future. This being my first read into Valiant’s comics was a pretty good one, Harbinger seems to be an interesting enough series to keep me reading to see where it goes from here and I’m interested in reading the original Harbinger comics so that I can compare the two series to one another.

The story revolves around the character of Peter Stanchek, an 18-year-old boy who, for some inexplicable reason, has the ability to hear everyone around him’s thoughts and control people and objects to do his will. He has been held in a hospital for most of his life and just recently escaped again with his friend Joseph Irons who seems to have some sort of mental issues, which it seems to be hinted at could be powers like Peter’s but it isn’t very clear. Peter comes back to his old home and finds the girl who he was in love with who no longer wants to have anything to do with him because of the things that he did to people back when they were younger, nothing is said specifically but he jut “hurt” people. He forces her to fall in love with him and they go back to the house Peter is squatting in. That night he gets awoken by a dog who turns out to be a mental projection of a Harbinger come to tell him he is in trouble and he needs to learn how to focus and control his abilities, other wise things probably won’t go so well. The story seems interesting and, as I said I plan on continuing to follow it but this first issue is pretty slow-paced, nothing exciting or mildly interesting happens in the whole middle of the issue. The beginning we find out he has these powers, the end he is being chased down by some secret organization that wants him and Joseph caught.

The art is nothing special in this, it gets the job done but that is it, it doesn’t do a good job at conveying any emotion the characters are having and it is just rather disappointing. It definitely needs to improve, whether or not it does in the near future is up in the air obviously.

Harbinger Issue 1: 7/10

***

That does it for my reviews this week, for more head over to IGN for their weekly comic round-up. As always let me know in the comments what comics you would be interested in seeing me review in the near future and I will do my best to oblige. Remember, life happens between the panels folks, go out and write your own story.

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