What is it about that song by Fun.? You know the one…it’s the track where Janelle Monáe just punches through the song’s super shining surface some three minutes something into the four-minuter. That surface though. It is a surface that appears in no other song—a flawless, permanent backbeat that calls you on to higher things. And it frames perfectly the politics of the moment that Fun. themselves describe so elegantly.
The protagonist has drunk too much by the time the song opens. And he falls into a conversation with someone random, some third person, about the situation with his friends and with his girlfriend. “My friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State. My girlfriend she is waiting for me, just across the bar. And my seat’s been taken by some sunglasses asking bout her scar”.
And then something magical happens. Without us noticing, the scene around us shifts. Our protagonist no longer speaks about his girlfriend in the third person, but addresses her directly. “I know I gave it to you months ago. I know you’re trying to forget. But between the drinks and subtle things, the holes in my apologies, I’m trying hard to take it back”.
And in that spectacular moment, we see through the relationship, deep into the inner mechanics of all human relationships. Something bad happened, and it’s been happening for a long time now. Been happening even before the scar, perhaps. Two people’s love has been in decay. And this song is the struggle to get beyond that decay. So by the time Janelle breaks through with her singular, steady grace of “Carry, just carry me home tonight”, we understand that both guy and girl are fighting, each in their own way, to get beyond the rot.
Fun. tell the same story that JJ Abrams did in last year’s hauntingly vivid Super 8. And the same story both Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Connor have been telling for months now in Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre. It’s the story that is spun immediately after we begin to ask ourselves, “How could it come to this?”.
Laurie, the second Silk Spectre, is one of two legacy heroes to appear in the original 1986 Watchmen. Her character arc in that book marks out a deeply feminist struggle from an era of the Trickle Down theory. It’s the story about breaking through the glass ceiling. Not in any kind of sense of career advancement, but in the sense that, even with all her material needs already having been met, she still finds herself stifled. 80s Laurie, is all about recapturing that optimism she once felt.
One the surface of it, Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre reads like the inverse of that moment. It is the story of youth and of youthful indiscretion, of wild abandon and of high adventure. At least on the surface of things. But deeper down, it’s clear the decay has already begun. And in a very real sense, this is not so much the story of a time of high abandon when Laurie was on the road. But the story of how, a decade or so later, Laurie came to be the woman who found herself hemmed in by circumstances.
This Labor Day weekend, please, please, enjoy your exclusive preview of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #3.
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