The most critically lauded graphic novel of all time is getting a set a prequel series this summer. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will ultimately lie within the pages of the series. Retcon Punch will be there with snarky remarks and unfair comparisons to the original every step of the way. This is the nerve center for reviews and write-ups of every single issue of each of the mini-series, plus anything else we write related to Watchmen.
Patrick: Before Watchmen: Comedian is so dense with historical and cultural references that it often comes off as clinical. It’s only upon peeling back the layers that the reader is rewarded with emotionally effective storytelling. The finale is no exception, so let’s cut the bullshit and unpack what just happened.
Michael: What you don’t show is as important as what you do show. If a story is told well, you can thankfully take this writerly aphorism for granted. We’re free to focus on what we are shown, because it’s gripping and we care about these moments over others. The rest — the implied events — blends into the background. It might be important. It might be necessary we know about it, but it isn’t right in front of us, on the page, and that’s OK. Unless that story is Before Watchman: Ozymandias 6, then it’s not OK. Every grinding gear of a story must be on display. It’s my own fault. I crave the supplemental information and shifts in perspective — I’m just upset when it doesn’t work out.
Patrick: You can’t understand Rorschach. Sorry, it’s true. The character is designed to defy your analysis and your close reading. So why attempt to explore the character’s past in Before Watchmen? What do we stand to gain from exploring the abyss? Brian Azzarello and Lee Barmejo bring the Rorschach mini-series to a close without answering these questions, leaving us to ponder what we expected of this whole experience.
Shelby: How do you tell any kind of story about a man who sees all of time at once? He knows his past, his future, and everything in between; how do you find a compelling narrative in the story of a man who knows his whole story? J. Michael Straczynski has tried to do that by exploiting Dr. Manhattan’s kooky relationship with time. “Doc Manhattan knows every possible future? FINE. I’ll WRITE every possible future!” JMS seemed to say. This title hasn’t been terrible (especially compared to the othermonstrosities JMS had his hand in), but it hasn’t been great, either. At best, this book has been conceptually interesting, but has fallen short in execution. This issue is no different; JMS tries out something new that’s interesting, but ultimately the story doesn’t go much of anywhere. Continue reading →
Patrick: “…if we don’t play by no rules… losing is fucking impossible.” We’ve mulled over where Eddie Blake’s nihilism comes from. Is it just something in the way his mind works or is it the product of his time and circumstance? Is it a philosophy he came to on his own, or was it forced on him by tragedy and suffering? Is an agent capable of setting history into motion or a product of that history?
Drew:Before Watchmen: Minutemen was good. It helped that it was one of the least explicitly fleshed-out corners of the Wathcmen universe, but much credit belongs to the unblinking moral greyness Darwyne Cooke imparted to the series. His warts-and-all approach stayed true to the spirit of the original series, but blended it with the sheen of reverence we hold for our golden-age heroes. He gave us compelling takes on many of the Minutemen, most notably Nite Owl, Mothman, and the Silhouette, creating fully-formed characters from the brief snapshots we see in Watchmen. Minutemen didn’t bother much to explore much of Dollar Bill’s back-story, which is unfortunately the only similarity Dollar Bill has to that series. Continue reading →
Patrick: In a sequence that perfectly epitomizes how I feel about the Ozymandias mini-series, Adrian Veidt holds a press conference as his alter ego. He removes the mask and the costume, revealing to the assembled reporters that Ozymandias and Adrian Veidt are one and the same. He says that all non-Doctor-Manhattan heroes have effectively become irrelevant — a sentiment echoed at one point or another by just about everyone in the Watchmen universe. Vedit can accomplish more good as the head of Vedit Industries, which prompts one reporter to ask “So, this is all about the money?” Never mind that this isn’t at all what Vedit was saying, he addresses the question head-on, bluntly saying “In this end… isn’t everything?” That reads as a rather cynical explanation for Before Watchmen, but interestingly, Veidt can’t keep his word about staying out of costume, donning the cape again to fight petty crime during the police strike. The message? It’s all about money… except when superheroes are involved: then it’s about something else.
Shelby: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. When it comes to delicious, delicious cake, you can either have it in your hands or eat it so it’s gone forever. Sometimes, your only options are mutually exclusive of each other, and you just have to decide which option you value more. Unless you are Darwyn Cooke: then you will manage to find a way to satisfactorily appease every concern I have regarding the conclusion of Minutemen, even when the answers I want seem to contradict each other. Continue reading →
We generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012:
Patrick: As the year comes to a close, we tend to look back favorably on what we experienced in the last 12 months. There have been some highs and lows, but through the goggles of nostalgia, I’m mostly going to remember how much fun we had starting this site and cultivating this little community of comic book nerds (hi guys!). It’s been over three months since we last saw an issue of Nite Owl, and I guess some of that rose-tinted optimism crept into my memory, momentarily distorting the quality of this series in my head. Luckily, this issue was kind enough to feature crazy, murderous Reverend Taylor Dean on page one. That’s the confused, pedantic narrative I remember! Oh, Nite Owl, it is so miserable to see you again!