Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 4

dr manhattan 4 B4W

Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Dr. Manhattan 4, originally released February 27th, 2013. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

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 other monstrosities 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

Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 3

Alternating Currents: Before Watchmen - Dr. Manhattan 3, Michael and DrewToday, Michael and Drew are discussing Dr. Manhattan 3, originally released December 12th, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: One of the themes of almost any time travel story is exponential chaos. Messing with the space time continuum can get out of control fast. The time-travel narrative can get similarly disordered as alternate worlds open and paradoxes proliferate. When the protagonist can exist in and explore these permutations, like Dr. Manhattan, drama gets complicated and the context needed to recognize a satisfactory ending gets fuzzy.  In this issue, “Ego Sum”, J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes try to gracefully execute a clunky, inelegant story solution to the reckless splitting of worlds that results in a nuclear holocaust. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 2

Today, Patrick and Michael Capristo are discussing Dr. Manhattan 2, originally released October 10, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: The first issue of Dr. Manhattan has sort of become Retcon Punch’s go-to example of something about which we can neither agree nor be civil. At its best, the issue was clever homage, setting up a daunting narrative structure with dazzling artwork. At its worst, the issue was reductive, inaccurate and repetitive. The centerpiece of our contention: Schrodinger’s cat. The thought experiment posits that an unobserved cat in a box is simultaneously dead and alive, and only when the cat is observed do the realities collapse into a single universe. Schrodinger came up with this puzzle partially to illustrate how silly the field of quantum mechanics is. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t buy into it, just that you live in a profoundly weird universe if a fact can be simultaneously true and not true. I’ve been thinking about it all evening, and “profoundly weird” is exactly how I want to describe Dr. Manhattan 2.
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Before Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan 1

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Dr. Manhattan 1, originally released August 22nd, 2012. Dr. Manhattan is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Shelby: Dr. Manhattan is a tricky character to deal with. He is all powerful; he can control any matter in any way, can see all time, and knows how everything will happen. That’s difficult to even really comprehend as a reader, let alone to understand it enough to write about. Once you get over the hurdle of writing about an infinitely powerful being with seemingly no weaknesses, there’s the fact that you’re writing a prequel story that the readers already know. Dr. Manhattan gets the most detailed origin story in Watchmen, so how do you write more about a story that we already know without completely derailing the character? I will admit, I was doubtful J. Michael Straczynski would pull it off, solely based on my disappointment in Nite Owl so far. I was surprised and immensely pleased to find this title is very, very good.
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