For starters, this series is both written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke so you know what you're in for when you pick it up. If you're a fan of Cooke's then you will not be disappointed. Cooke captures the era of the Minutemen beautifully through both dialogue and pencils -- I could not have asked for a better person for the job to depict this period piece. I think the characters that stood out the most to me in this issue were the depictions of Moth Man, Nite Owl and The Silhouette. I really thought that they were the most engaging. The moments where Moth Man took center stage stood out the most to me -- these felt like they were the most inspired by Alan Moore's writing in the WATCHMEN. At least in my opinion. Moth Man's appearance is sad, and poignant and serves almost as a foreshadowing of what would happen later to the team.
It's evident that Cooke is being very careful with the characters, and that he studied Alan Moore's 'Under The Hood' back-up stories before writing BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN. The story starts launches from the perspective of the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. It's a great place to start since the bulk of what we already know about the Minutemen characters is what we've read in the 'Under The Hood' tell all by Mason's character.
The second half of the issue felt a bit rushed. I don't think all the characters needed to be introduced in this first issue, and was slightly disappointed when Cooke just fit all of their brief introductions into the first issue. I would have liked to spend more than just two pages reading about The Silhouette's character, for example, but perhaps Cooke is waiting to flesh out her character later in the series.
I think the question on everyone's minds is whether or not this series -- as well as the other BEFORE WATCHMEN books that will begin trickling out -- will do the original WATCHMEN series justice. I think, in a way, this one does. If you understand that this story is not being told in Alan Moore's voice, and that Cooke will be delving into the Minutemen characters that were barely touched in the WATCHMEN series, then it's easy to see how this acts as a great addition to the original story. It's a solid book told from the perspective of a different writer who managed to capture the true essence of the time period, and I enjoyed it. I'm definitely looking forward to reading about the adventures of the Minutemen in the coming issues.