Once again, artist/writer Amanda Conner delivers an absolutely gorgeous issue. Conner takes her time and very obviously thinks out and plots every single panel in this comic, and the result is an absolutely stunning issue. The artist draws inspiration from classical art, and manages to seamlessly integrate these images into her comic. Conner looks to artist Nikolai Pavlenko's "Girl in the boat" painting, featuring a young woman in a beautiful white, flowing gown with draped sleeves, and strategically places her in the issue.
Conner also takes a queue from artist Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream," and uses the picture to depict the very raw sadness and pain that Laurie is feeling when she discovers that her boyfriend Greg has left her. The fact that Conner is able to take these pieces of classic art and integrate them into her book as a way of describing the current state and emotions being felt by the characters in her story -- it's fantastic. This is what great art is, and Conner shows us that she is not only incredibly versatile, but she has that rare ability to tell a story well solely through pictures. As far as the art goes, Conner really brings us her A-game in this issue.
This is also the final issue in this short series, and it serves as a proper ending in light of the previous three issues. As far as the writing and the way the issue is plotted, it is really well done. I think that Cooke and Conner do a phenomenal job organizing and plotting about 3/4ths of this issue. The dialogue is great, well written (mostly) and very fluid. It is also a great final issue in the way that it finishes the story. It feels like a proper ending. Laurie really feels like a character that has grown from the far more timid and innocent girl we met in the first issue. She's matured and no longer sees the world through these rose-colored glasses; instead she sees the world in a far darker, more grim light that has left her wanting to do something to change it. She's both inspired and jaded when she looks at the world around her, and that is how Laurie should feel. So, as far as the characterization goes, she reads incredibly well.
The only real problem with this issue was the way that it ends. I'm not so sure the final two pages were necessary since people reading this series can likely guess that Laurie joins the Watchmen. The dialogue and the way that Laurie describes the heroes in the room is also slightly awkward; it doesn't feel like the same voice of the more mature, grown-up Laurie in the rest of the issue. I think those last two pages did more harm than good for her characterization.
Overall this is a great end to a pretty good series. For the most part I liked SILK SPECTRE and found it to be one of the better books of the BEFORE WATCHMEN series. Getting a closer look at Laurie's character through the eyes of creators Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner was great, and it was wonderful to see Conner really delve into the character and the story. This is certainly some of Amanda Conner's best work as an artist because of the amount of thought and work she put into the story -- she seems to have really put her best foot forward, drawing a lot of inspiration from classical artists and referencing their work in her illustration. The layout, organization and the pacing of this issue was great up until the last two pages of the issue. The very end feels a bit rushed, and the issue could have ended just before Laurie joins the Watchmen. Overall the book is enjoyable, and a great end to a pretty good series. I recommend picking it up for Conner's stunning work on the title alone.