Who's it by?
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4 is written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair back-up is written by Len Wein and drawn by original series colourist John Higgins.
Minutemen #4 uses one of Hollis Mason's flash-forwards as a framing device and focuses on the fallout from the Silhouette's death. The issue explores the relationship between Mason and Mothman, and gives readers insight into the events that drove the latter insane.
Other characters such as the Comedian and Silhouette feature in war-era flashbacks, which serve to highlight the horrors of the Watchmen universe and how they tore the Minutemen asunder.
What's the verdict?
Minutemen #4 sees the series turn a few shades darker, bringing it closer in tone to Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore's seminal work. With this bleak chapter in the series, the bridge between Before Watchmen and the original begins to take shape.
Writer-artist Darwyn Cooke has chosen to focus on the evil that mankind is capable of, and how the resulting atrocities have shaped the Watchmen universe. The end result is an issue peppered with memorable and emotionally charged moments that elevate the series to a dizzy height its Before Watchmen counterparts have failed to reach.
The stand-out scene involves Silk Spectre at Silhouette's graveside, paying tribute to a woman who was something of a rival to her in life. Readers get to see a side of the character that was only hinted at in the past, and it's handled well.
Minutemen #4 is an ensemble comic, sharing the spotlight between several members of the team. We get to see them during some of their darkest hours, which helps paint a clearer picture of who they really are, though the ever-shifting perspective means the comic lacks focus.
Cooke's artwork continues to be one of the book's finest qualities, proving that he's equally capable at portraying bleakness and despair as he is Golden Age optimism. The characters are rendered in a style reminiscent of Moore's original illustrations, but in no way shackled by their association with them.
Minutemen remains the strongest title in Before Watchmen's portfolio, and the fourth issue sees it reach new heights. Unlike with some of the other prequels, there was always an intriguing story to tell here, and Cooke is realising its potential.
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Minutemen' #1
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Minutemen' #2
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Minutemen' #3
Watch a trailer for Before Watchmen below: