Standard disclaimer: Before Watchmen, for the most part, feels like it shouldn't exist and, since it does, it should be considered some alternate reality version of Watchmen and not an actual attempt to fill in the blanks of the original.
Standard gushing: I am so in love with Amanda Conner's art it isn't funny. It's almost uncomfortable. The fact that she's working with Darwyn Cooke just makes Silk Spectre even more irresistible. I'd read a damn Gambit book if they were the creators on it, and I'd be even more angry that that would exist. I want the Cooke/Conner team on either characters I already love who are ripe for their awesomeness or their own characters that I'm sure they'd make me love.
Conner's work is just so damn engaging. The contrast of her strong sense of realism with that slight Archie-styled innocence just works for every situation Cooke throws at her, be it the crazy hallucinogenic trip that starts Silk Spectre #3, or the sweetest of young loves between Laurie Juspeczyk and her miserably sick boyfriend Greg, or the tragic darkness of the Comedian getting involved because Sally Jupiter is too much of a hardass to take a soft touch to her daughter's running away, or the full-on orgy that Laurie interrupts when trying to stop the nasty new drugs on the streets of San Francisco from hurting anyone else – and the crushing look of heartbreak in her eyes that closes the issue. Conner is just so spectacularly emotive with her work that you laugh, gasp and cry right along with her characters, and she's completely fearless with the subject matter she'll tackle – The Pro is proof of that. It's uncanny.
I'm not really sold on Cooke's antagonists here – essentially, Frank Sinatra and Easy Reader from "Electric Company" are pushing drugs specially designed to turn counterculture hippies into spend-happy consumers – but it's almost ancillary to the main thrust of the story, which is the rebellious phase of Laurie Juspeczyk when she first experiences the world out from beneath her mother's controlling thumb. Cooke took the smart options when offered Before Watchmen by tackling the tales of the two parts of the original Watchmen that some might think could use a little more added to their story. He's doing well with the Minutemen, and since Laurie was a bit shrill and hard to take much of the time in Alan Moore's work, Cooke and Conner have taken her in the complete opposite direction and made her so likable in her youth that it actually pains our souls when she gets hurt.
And hurt, she gets. Because this is the world of Watchmen. No one gets out unscarred.
I really want Cooke and Conner to team up on something else. Something new and wholly theirs so I can stop having reservations and just love the hell out of it. As it stands, I still kinda love this.