Watchmen’s Golden Age superteam, the Minutemen, manage to prove the Comedian right when one of their missions takes a dark and unfortunate turn.
He had a lot of controversial opinions about the state of the world, but the Watchmen’s nihilistic brute, the Comedian, was right about one thing. A disaster from the Minutemen reinforces Edward Blake’s idea that superhero teams are nothing but a bad joke.
While Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ series largely focuses on the individual lives lead by a handful of retired costumed adventurers, the story touches on several iterations of crime-fighting groups. The more modern Crimebusters, didn’t last very long, but their forerunners, the Minutemen, had a bit more success working together as a unit. The Minutemen of Watchmen’s world lasted nearly a decade, almost throughout the entire decade of the ’40s. However, the team disbanded amid a series of controversies from their teammates, which led to several tragic fates for some of them. Edward Blake, the Comedian, notably insisted at the Crimebusters’ first meeting that teams aren’t nearly as effective as the heroes of the world think.
And shockingly, Watchmen’s infamous malcontent turned out to be completely correct on the ineffectiveness of teams. Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1 by Len Wein and Steve Rude gives fans a look at the early days of Watchmen’s original team in their heyday. Bill Brady, the man who behind the mask of Dollar Bill questions whether he’s made the right choice getting into the costumed hero line of work, especially once he sees his teammates’ behavior. But he sticks it out through to the team’s first official mission, taking down a group smuggling weapons into New York Harbor. Though the team is effective at fighting against the criminals, the team’s leader, Captain Metropolis, errs in his investigation. The villains were actually smuggling fireworks, which accidentally light up after Metropolis launches a smoke grenade.
When Captain Metropolis tried forming a new team in Watchmen, the Comedian viciously mocked the hero for his efforts, particularly because of his failures with the Minutemen. While it was known that many of the heroes of Metropolis’ old team faced unfortunate fates, their actual work as costumed adventurers wasn’t seen. This glimpse into the past reveals why the Comedian was so jaded about the positive impact superheroes could have on the world.
To be fair, the Comedian was cynical long before Metropolis attempted to create another group of superheroes. But the events in this prequel explain one part of Edward Blake’s overall character. Of all the heroes presented in Watchmen, the Comedian is the member least capable of being a team-player. And while much of that is due to Blake’s own personal psychology, Metropolis’ fumbling of this mission proves that the heroes of Watchmen treated heroism like a game of pretend. Captain Metropolis even shows how woefully unprepared he is for the life of a hero by blaming the entire event on the criminals while taking no responsibility for his own actions. The Comedian was very opinionated, but he was right on the money when it came to how childish the heroes of Watchmen could be.
Next: Marvel’s New Series is George R. R. Martin’s Answer to Watchmen