Optimous Douche Has a “24 Karat Gas Baby”

Writers: Amanda Conner & Darwyn Cooke
Artist: Amanda Conner
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Welcome the #2’s. I want reviews moving forward to end the perpetual bitch-storm of whether BEFORE WATCHMEN is a worthwhile project or not and start focusing on the merits of the books themselves. Impassioned pleas will not make converts of the haters (even when those pleas are found at the end of the book in the editor column) and the hater’s venom spewed in the eyes of the converted simply isn’t strong enough to wash away the cataracts of sheer bliss. “Can’t we all just get along,” has been answered and the answer is an emphatic, NO! So with that said, haters I wish you the best in finding your own comic Nirvana. BEFORE WATCHMEN fans, let’s talk some teen spirit 60’s style.

Issue one of SILK SPECTRE was a deep and disturbing extrapolation of “Toddlers in Tiaras” parenting stretched into superhero hyperbole. We all knew Sally Jupiter was far from Mom of the year in the original WATCHMEN, but SILK SPECTRE allowed us to see the tumultuous moments that built the unsavory bitterness between Sally and Laurie. At the end of the issue, we see Laurie break her shackles of oppression by heading west to imbibe the summer of love from its epicenter; Haight-Ashbury.

Most of the people reading this column missed the 60s, yours truly included. However, being an only child I spent far more time growing up with Baby Boomers and the Great Generation versus my own Gen X. With Gen X and Boomers the generational divide in most cases is a slight gap; I like rap, my Dad doesn’t. However, our ideologies on how the world should work are pretty much in synch. Between Boomers and the Great Generation though, the difference in mores and world views is a canyon. Haight-Ashbury was the epitome of those differences: free love versus 50s cloistered bedroom sex, freeing the mind with a cornucopia of substances versus merely dulling life’s pain with hooch, and finally the communist view of helping your fellow man versus getting all you can for yourself in the shortest time possible. Time showed that the Boomers weren’t immune to the trappings of worldly possessions and status, but for a few glorious years the Boomers truly did change the world and scared the living shit out of the controlling establishment.

This historical accuracy or to speak more succinctly the real history melding of comic fiction contained within the pages of SILK SPECTRE 2, as Laurie finds new freedoms in life amongst the communes of San Francisco, have made me fall even deeper in love with this series. I loved issue 1, but after reading COMEDIAN 1 where our favorite bastard snuggled up to the Kennedy clan, I realized that Laurie’s story in the first issue could have been told at any time using any character. Don’t get me wrong, these elements made the story transcend the original material, which was the point. But for an alternate history whore, nothing compares to seeing some of history’s greatest names cause the downfall of western civilization…or at least try to.

Most startling about this historical infusion was that neither Conner nor Cooke used the names one would associate with the Summer of Love. As Laurie and her hippy friends created their own commune and Laurie starts to protect the hippies, silk screening by day – go-go boot ass kicking by night, I naively expected a pot smoking session with Jerry Garcia or a three-way with Grace Slick.  Thankfully C&C Comic Factory had something far more nefarious in mind that also helps create a true overarching plot for this series.

Ole’ Blue Eyes ladies and gentlemen, the Chairman of the Board himself, Mr. Frank Sinatra is our overarching villain for this series. One of the biggest complaints I heard about COMEDIAN was that Azzarello took too many liberties with the voices of the Kennedys (especially Jackie). While I found an empowered Jackie to be a great twist, I can see how purists might call Shenanigans. With Frank in SILK SPECTRE though, there’s no mistaking that this is the voice of Sinatra.

Frank’s hatred of Rock n’ Roll was well documented, but as Conner has him say in this book, “at least Elvis still liked Cadillacs and big houses.” But folk music and the hippie movement threatened something Frank coveted more than power and dames – money. You see this with most people that start from nothing; they will do whatever they can to keep what is theirs. Realizing that the public conscience was changing Frank realizes that no amount of crooning will swing the pendulum back to his way of thinking. So like any great general Frank decides to hit the hippies where they live. Working with music moguls and a few very smart chemists, Frank concocts a type of acid that instead of making people “tune out” has them instead “tune in” to consumerism.

Don’t mistake me, despite this cool twist, C&C were still able to keep all of the wonderful truth and honesty about Laurie front and center through most of this book. From her opening letter to Hollis Mason, letting him know she’s all right in her new life, to the moments where she hides her secret identity from her boyfriend, there’s a brutal and painful honesty to every word and picture in this book. However, the twist with ole’ Blue Eyes and the conspiracy being set in motion, was the garnish this title needed to make it a real WATCHMEN book and retake the top spot as my favorite BEFORE WATCHMEN title.

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3 Comments to “Optimous Douche Has a “24 Karat Gas Baby”

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  1. kcviking says:

    Is it safe to assume that Amanda Conner is her usual awesome in this book? That cover looks incredible! Looking forward to this.

    Whats the over/under on haters posting on aicn? I’m guessing 7 posts.

  2. optimous douche says:

    I would take the under on that. We have two walking dead 100 reviews coming this week.

  3. kcviking says:

    I was betting on the over just on this review, but 2 Walking Dead reviews?!!

    I’m screwed. :)

    Hope tha apocalyptic beard attack fanatics aren’t too harsh with you this time around.

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