Before Watchmen: The First Full Pages

USA Today

has an interview with Before Watchmen: Minutemen creator Darwyn Cooke up right now, wherein the newspaper has a five-page preview of the series' first issue.

"Dave [Gibbons] had to come up with something for Mothman," Cooke told the newspaper, citing the famous group shot of the Minutemen from Alan Moore and Gibbons' classic Watchmen, "and what you've got there is kind of silly-looking. But there's a lot of personality in there. Just the tiniest little things tell you about the characters and who they might be." He added, "Most of the characters are a completely open book."

It's that kind of thing that the creators of Before Watchmen are being forced to work with, especially given that there's no official Watchmen bible (since there was never any intention that a sequel would happen) and, clearly, they weren't going to be getting any characterization pointers from Moore.

While the interview talks about dealing with characters like Silhouette and The Comedian, both of whom were out of circulation before Watchmen really began in 1985, the focus of these preview pages is squarely on onetime Nite-Owl Hollis Mason, the series' cover boy, who as of the beginning of Before Watchmen is in the earliest stages of writing Under the Hood. His autobiography, which became a framing device for issues of Watchmen and appeared periodically throughout the book afterwards, seems to be serving a similar function here, justifying a story that goes back forty or so years in time earlier even than the other Watchmen prequels.

That, of course, doesn't stop him from having visual cues that hint at The Comedian, Doctor Manhattan and other characters who won't appear--or won't appear as we know them--in the series. Like Dave Gibbons did in many of his layouts, Cooke appears to have symbols and icons and patterns hidden on the page. It also--likely to the chagrin of many fans--echoes elements of Moore's dialogue as well, with Mason echoing some comments made by Silk Spectre in Watchmen.

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Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 hits the stands (and ComiXology) on Wednesday.

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