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Why MINUTEMEN Could Potentially Be The Most Important Of All The BEFORE WATCHMEN Books

Darwyn Cooke's work on MINUTEMEN has the potential to add more to the WATCHMEN story, and here's why.

Of all of the BEFORE WATCHMEN prequel books, perhaps the one I am most looking forward to is the one that is scheduled to be released first: MINUTEMEN, which will be written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. Aside from the fact that Cooke happens to be one of my all-time favorite creators, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to this story. Before you start to disagree with me (and I know many of you will), think back to the story of the WATCHMEN. Think back to the underlying themes and the overall premise: think back to the foundation of the epic tale of the demise of heroes. WATCHMEN tells the story of the end -- the story of how things finally fall apart and the adventures of the last great vigilante heroes. What it doesn't really tell us is the story of the beginning. How did these heroes come to be? What are their individual stories? Who were they and how did they come together?

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In the first issue of the WATCHMEN you might recall some of the characters alluding to the tell-all book written by Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl and one of the original members of the Minutemen. The fictional book titled 'Under The Hood' revealed the origins of the Minutemen characters and also acted as Hollis' autobiography. When the WATCHMEN was first published, writer Alan Moore inserted excerpts from Hollis' fictional account as a back-up feature in the first three issues of THE WATCHMEN issues. Although it revealed details of his origin story and how he came to be a costumed vigilante, as well as the origin stories of some of his MINUTEMEN companions; it was all done through Nite Owl's perspective.

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As a result, readers have never read much about the original Minutemen and how they came to be from any perspective other than Hollis', and Moore didn't spend a whole lot of time on the series delving into the characters in general. In part IV. of Moore's 'Under The Hood' which was first published as a back up in the second issue of WATCHMEN, Moore glazed over the founding of the Minutemen, how they came together and what eventually led to their demise. He made sure not to spend a lot of time delving into the personalities of the respective characters that first joined the team. Perhaps it was because Moore didn't feel it was relevant information to his story. Since THE WATCHMEN is more about the destruction of vigilantism and the fall of the superhero than it is about the glory days of their founding. Yet, the story of the Minutemen was supposed to have been told -- at least initially, according to both Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, anyway.

Based on a source, according to an interview with Moore from the March, 1985 issue of The Comics Journal, depending on whether the sales of the series were good, he and Gibbons had considered writing a prequel featuring the Minutemen characters.

Moore stated in 1985 that if the limited series was well-received, he and Gibbons would possibly create a 12-issue prequel series called Minutemen featuring the 1940s superhero group from the story.

The thing that makes the Minutemen different from the Watchmen characters is that Moore had considered writing a prequel to the series centered around the Minutemen characters. He had, at one point, planned on expanding that universe by telling their story -- and now that's going to be a reality (even if it is a story being told without Moore's input). Either way, it's expanding the original story. It's giving a series that is about the end of something, a beginning.

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The story of the Minutemen is just as important as that of the Watchmen because the Watchmen story alludes so heavily to the original members. THE WATCHMEN very briefly introduces readers to the original Minutemen heroes the Hooded Justice, the original Nite Owl, Comedian, The Silhouette, Captain Metropolis, Mothman and Dollar Bill. At the epicenter of the Watchmen story is the Comedian; a member of the original Minutemen who then later joined the ranks of the Watchmen.

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He is, essentially the connection between the Minutemen and the Watchmen. He's there in the beginning, and his death marks the beginning of the end. This is part of the reason why telling the story of the beginning of this universe and how it all came to be has the potential of completing what was intended to be such a finite story. Giving these characters a start and fleshing out their personalities and characters is important; more important, in my opinion, than telling the Comedian or Silk Spectre's respective stories -- not that those stories won't be good or interesting.

The BEFORE WATCHMEN books are controversial, and with the first issue of this series out in stores tomorrow it's time to ask yourselves: are these stories you want to invest in? Is it possible that the array of amazing creators (Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes and many more) will add something to this story; or not? For me, giving the WATCHMEN a beginning has the potential to make the volume feel more whole. It's not necessary, but maybe it will be a great addition to the classic series. What about you? Do you expect that these books will add more than they will take away from the story? Which are you looking forward to?