In the latest of Digital Spy's comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' Before Watchmen prequels, we take a look at Silk Spectre #4.
Who's it by?
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4 is written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner and illustrated by Conner. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair back-up is written and drawn by original series colourist John Higgins.
Laurie's final letter from her AWOL boyfriend Greg frames the opening scenes, which give an insight into the nature of the titular heroine's relationship with her mother and predecessor Sally Jupiter.
Meanwhile, her 'uncle' Hollis Mason arrives in San Francisco on Laurie's trail, culminating in a showdown that gives the retired and newly minted heroes the opportunity to show that they can handle themselves in a fight.
What's the verdict?
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre has been far from one of our favourite offerings in the controversial prequel project, so it is something of a surprise to observe a significant jump in quality in this final issue. The comic comes to focus on elements of Laurie and her relationship with Sally that would have made for a far more interesting miniseries.
Rather than focusing on the muddled story of drug dealers and hippies that comprised the middle two issues of this title, Conner and Cooke instead turn the spotlight on the complicated mother-daughter relationship. What emerges is generally touching and disturbing and says more of interest about both of them than the previous three issues combined.
The aforementioned drug plot is wrapped up here, quickly (and with a dose of the amusing and disturbing), to the point where it looks almost as if the creators had realised the throwaway nature of the story. The devious plan to destroy the culture of free love is briefly alluded to - though it is not obvious if we are to believe this was the downfall of that entire philosophy - and anyone who can remember the villain's name and purpose by the end deserves a medal. This was highly forgettable stuff.
Conner's art remains strong, with a return to the device of illustrating Laurie's thoughts with fantasies and famous artworks that give an insight into the character's mind which slipped as the series progressed.
Ultimately, Silk Spectre fails to get far enough under the skin of the character. The book wraps up nicely with the return to a famous (and much used throughout Before Watchmen) scene, but, looking back over the prequel adventure, it doesn't seem that anything that happened really informs or explains Laurie's actions in the original series.
This series has been a disappointment. Although far more enjoyable in isolation, this final issue also serves to highlight the wasted opportunity to really add something to the Silk Spectre character. From Cooke and Conner, readers would be justified in expecting more.
> Buy the digital version of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre' #3
> Read our Before Watchmen interview with Dan DiDio
Watch a trailer for Before Watchmen below: