Which Watchman Should You Watch?
Hey comics fans!
For those of you who don’t know, Before Watchmen has officially been underway for about 3 months now. This past week has seen the final first issue released meaning that each series under the Before Watchmen banner has officially started! Now obviously it is expensive and laborious to pick up every issue of every title of every Before Watchmen book, which is exactly why I’m here to give you some insight on which books you should be picking up right now and which ones you can wait to check out once they’ve been publish in trade paperback.
Minutemen: I was excited for this book when they first announced it. I’m a huge fan of Darwyn Cooke’s work at DC, especially his Justice League New Frontier books. His work continues to be phenomenal with this book which I can easily say is the best of the project so far. What’s interesting about this book is that apart from brief mentions or appearances, we don’t get a lot of Minutemen history in the original Watchmen. This provides insight into several characters and gives much more depth to characters like the original Nite Owl, The Silhouette and Hooded Justice. The most fascinating aspect of this book for me is the characters of Silhouette and Hooded Justice who seem to be the most vague characters from the original series as well as the characters with the most dedication to crime fighting. If you’re going to be picking up just one Before Watchmen book, make it this one.
Silk Spectre: This book was an incredible surprise to me. Silk Spectre had a large role in the original series but she was by far one of the least exciting characters, constantly clinging to a male character and effectively a symbol of the role most female characters portrayed in early comic books. However, this takes a much more empowered look at the character. It has a heavy focus on the psychedelic era in U.S history and how Silk Spectre kind of earned her “sea legs” in the crime fighting world. It’s a mixture between a superhero story and a coming of age story. The struggles that a teenage Lori has with her mother and her response to those problems is explored here and really creates a dynamic story that I would never expected in a book about Silk Spectre. As always, Darwyn Cooke’s writing is wonderful and Amanda Conner’s art style is fabulously suited to this story. Definitely one you should pick up and check out.
Comedian: This book is odd. I don’t mean that it’s quirky or at all out of character. This is pretty much what I would’ve expected a Comedian book to turn out to be. This follows the journey of the Comedian and his involvement with the Kennedys and the U.S military, particularly his early involvement in the vietnam war. As I’ve heard it put, what makes this book weird is the “Forest Gump” nature it has taken on. Comedian seems to have found himself amidst some important moments in U.S history and this book takes history into account in a major way. He even personally knows JFK and Robert Kennedy as though he was their fun uncle. That being said, it has been a somewhat predictable book because it follows Comedian during a time that we’ve already more or less heard about in the original series. Nothing new or groundbreaking is really going to be found in this book. My opinion is that if you want some good never-before-seen moments with the Comedian, go read Minutemen.
Nite Owl: Similarly to Silk Spectre, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this book. At most I was thinking it would be a Batmanesque story that detailed how this Nite Owl came to be. But it turned out to be much more interesting than that. They give his backstory and the reason for his riches, as well as what it might be like to take the mantle of your idol. Some of the more interesting material that comes later on (like issue #2) is Nite Owl’s relationship with Rorschach before every one had to retire their costumes. It has a funny edge to it and this book even provides some insight into Rorschach’s character. Nite Owl’s adventures even contain a little bit of sexiness and sexual tension in the form of a dominatrix whose taking a liking to Nite Owl. Ultimately, this does sort of play like a batman book with a Watchmen layout but it is really great in its own way.
Ozymandias: This book started out impossibly boring. Everything about it was seemingly bland and boring, much like the character of Ozymandias. However, the second issue really turned it around for me. This one also managed to take on a Batman vibe but the kind of calculating, always thinking and devising a plan kind of Batman. The Batman that is almost completely internal monologue. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed about the book is that the narration almost seems perfectly fabricated. The way Adrian tells his own story is like someone establishing an alibi, trying to explain their actions. I’m hoping the payoff is that Adrian is actually lying about the whole thing and none of this is exactly true. Other than that aspect, it’s a pretty average book so I would wait for the trade to read the whole thing.
Rorschach: This is the series that I think the most people were excited about. While reading it I couldn’t help but feel something was somewhat “off” about the whole thing. The art is gorgeous, as I’ve come to expect from Bermejo after his two Batman graphic novels, but it was something else that bothered me. After thinking it over, I realized it was Rorschach’s dialogue. It seems horribly out of character and not really well put together, especially if you compare it to the original series or even the Rorschach in Nite Owl’s book. Maybe it’ll expand and get better, much like the Ozymandias book did, but ultimately this doesn’t have me terribly excited for what’s coming next. Sadly, I would say that you should wait for Rorschach to come out in trade paperback.
Dr. Manhattan: If you like Dr. Manhattan, you’re going to love this book. If you’re like me, and not particularly interested in him, you’ll be bored. JMS nails Mahattan’s speech pattern and inner dialogue excellently and stays fundamentally true to the source material, while still adding something new at the end of the book. The art is gorgeous as I’ve never seen Adam Hughes do interiors but he really should do it more often, it’s great. But like I said, Manhattan is a character that bores me to no end. Omnipotent characters who are capable of anything really take the life out of a story. While JMS gets Manhattan exactly right, this is the thing that leads me to not like the book. Manhattan has always seemed bored and monotone in both his inner and outer dialogue and this is not exciting to me. I’m interested to see where it is going but ultimately, this just isn’t for me. So the verdict is split, if you really like the character of Dr. Manhattan then you should definitely be picking up this book. On the other hand, if you don’t like him, then forget this book happened because it won’t interest you.
Those are my verdicts on all of these books. Obviously, some of you might agree or disagree. If so, why not leave a comment? Or come talk to us at the store about which is your favorite? We’re interested in hearing what you think! That’s all from me kids!
As Jeff says “Keep calm and read comics!”
You find everything for your Before Watchmen needs here at your friendly neighborhood 4th Wall!