I’ve been loving Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre from the very beginning. What started out as an Archie story set against the backdrop of the Watchmen universe is slowly aligning itself more and more with tone of its parent series, and the transition is fascinating. Here’s the official description of Silk Spectre #3 from DC:
“San Francisco, baby. The best part of the trip…is the trip.” Plus: The latest chapter in the CRIMSON CORSAIR backup adventure from writer LEN WEIN and artist JOHN HIGGINS!
A major theme of this series has been Laurie’s loss of innocence (in every sense of the phrase) and that innocence takes a major blow at the end of the issue. Before that, however, Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner send Laurie on a groovy acid trip and get her mother involved in her life once again. The maternal plot points will doubtless come to a head next month, but Laurie’s hallucinations dominate the story here. Cooke and Conner take this opportunity to inject more humor into the series, but also hint at Laurie’s future and the larger Watchmen universe in a number of ways, some subtle, some not so much.
I keep being amazed at how all the Before Watchmen writers manage to single out elements from the original and incorporate them into their own series. Here in issue three, Cooke and Conner give one particularly meaningful object an origin that is simple, terrible, and poignant all at once.
Amanda Conner’s art seems to get better every month. In the first two issues, she adhered closely to the nine panel format used by Dave Gibbons in the original Watchmen. Now she slowly disassembles that structure as the drugs take affect,then reassembles it as they wear off. In between, she delivers some crazy fun images with the help of colorist Paul Mounts, who it would appear had a lot of fun with the work.
Conner has previously given us a number of cartoony looks into Laurie’s mind, but she takes it to a whole new level here. Not only do similar cartoons appear during the drug trip, but afterward the art style of those peeks into Laurie’s head gets more serious to match her mindset. My favorite moment came when Laurie, when asked how she was feeling after her wild night, envisioned Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” It completely cracked me up.
If I have one problem with Silk Spectre #3, it’s the excessive nudity. Even that, however, is used for very specific reasons. Over all, this book is a perfect storm of beautiful art, clever writing, and touching storytelling. I hate to see it end next month.