Before Watchmen – Nite Owl 2

Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Nite Owl 2, originally released August 1st, 2012. Nite Owl is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Peter: Dan Dreiberg is a likable character. He’s the sympathetic hero, the guy you identify with. There is something about him that makes you go ‘awww’, and something that makes you say ‘that could be me’. Or at least, I say that when I read him. The Before Watchmen version of Dan is anything but that. Combine that with a very uninteresting, or engaging storyline, and issue 2 still fails to meet expectations. There is a glimmer of hope, as things begin to pick up…a little.

The second installment of Nite Owl begins with Dan and Rorschach doing what they do; beating up crooks in an alley. As always, somebody gets away from the crowd, and makes a break for it. While pursuing Dan happens upon a naked woman dominating a man. They strike up a conversation. Rorschach hates whores. Dan holds him back. Walter and Dan go their separate ways.

Rorschach reminisces about his childhood, with a prostitute for a mother and how it affects his current life. Instead of going out on patrol the next night, Rorschach goes to a religious revival. Nite Owl and Rorschach run into each other investigating a homicide of a woman, who is also a prostitute.

Now it’s Dan’s turn to flashback to his childhood, in an abusive home, and an abusive school. Dan returns to The Twilight Lady.

I think that my main issue with the first issue of this story is that it didn’t really go anywhere. Come to think of it, neither does this one either. That being said, there were more things for me to like in this issue. The story here, while nothing riveting or new, is very intriguing. As I write this, I am still on the fence as to exactly how I feel about it. On one hand, it doesn’t do anything, since it, like last issue, is just background and rehashing stories that we already know about from Watchmen proper. Which is why I kind of hate it. I mean, that’s really the biggest pitfall with Nite Owl; so far, nothing is novel or new. It’s mostly all just expansion on previous ideas and themes. Which, to some extent, I like, but there comes a time when it just is too much.

The mirroring that occurs with Rorschach’s sequence is quite good. I love that he pretty much falls into a rut early in his life.

The idea that Dan presents about there being two people behind the mask, constantly fighting for control is quite intriguing. It makes sense with later Rorschach, since he pretty loses himself in the Rorschach personality. But the problem is that this isn’t anything new. In fact, it is implied that at this point in the story, Rorschach has already taken over. I always thought that it was when he was a child living with his whoremother. Dan thinks that the his inner fight is still going on. I don’t think so, and I don’t think that Rorschach thinks so. He’s already made up his mind in this book.

One of my favorite scenes, and probably the only good one in this issue, is Dan’s conversation with Hollis. I like that it sets up Dan’s continuing relationship with Hollis.

Hollis is a more disturbed than I thought. Something clearly happened that left him disillusioned to his role as the first Nite Owl. He clearly doesn’t want that to happen to Dan, but doesn’t share his experience.

I think that one of the major problems I have reading this book is the format. It’s also the same problem I have with the Watchmen book; the six panel format. It creates pages that are too cluttered, and the doesn’t allow for too much development through the art. This isn’t always true, there are obviously some pages that have less than six panels. It also cuts down on the flow of the book. It reads more like a series of snapshots, like it’s drawn, rather than a flowing narrative.

The Twilight Lady part of the story is interesting, but it still doesn’t do much in this issue. It was one of the small mysteries from the proper work. It’s just that though, small.Hopefully it will help make Dan a better character in this Before Watchmen series, and maybe even have some influence or perception on the original work.

Nite Owl continues to be the weakest book in Before Watchmen for me. While I do see some improvements, there still isn’t enough for me to really love this book…yet. I hope that with the introduction of a female love interest that Dan can play off of, and help him develop, this story will get better.

Shelby: I am even more disappointed in this title now than I was before.

I tried with this issue. I gave myself a little pep talk before I started reading, reminded myself to stay open-minded. Then I turned the first page and WHAM. Near-full frontal, TOTALLY UNNESSARY NUDITY.

What the what? Those are the most gratuitous, unnecessary, weirdly-drawn boobs I have ever seen. I’d buy it if Straczynski wanted to include the Twilight Lady in full on dominatrix gear, but to have her completely naked? Story-wise, if you want to reintroduce a character who only appeared previously in a single photo, why would you not show her in the same costume we’ve ever seen her in? I wasn’t even completely sure who that was at first. AND COME ON, THIS IS JUST TERRIBLE. It is the worst possible example of over-sexualized women in comic books. I said in the image text that it wasn’t offensive, but it actually is. I can’t imagine any reason for this panel other than BOOBS = SHOCKING AND ALSO MONEY.

Aside from all that, I dislike this issue for the same reasons I had last time; this is so out of character for Dan Dreiberg. I get that this is a younger, more hale and hearty version of Dreiberg than we’re used to, but with the other Before Watchmen titles, I can see how the younger versions of the characters become the versions I know from Watchmen proper. Straczynski continues to try too hard to be gritty and dark because WATCHMEN AND ALSO MONEY. The characters are forced, the plot is almost nothing, and there is A LOT of Rorschach in here. Enough that I wonder if Straczynski didn’t actually want to write Rorschach instead. That would certainly better explain the out-of-place violence and nudity.

You’re right to say this title doesn’t offer anything new. Ozymandias didn’t offer anything new either, but at least it didn’t also present a character completely at odds with the character I already know. Peter, I’m glad you were able to find something intriguing in this title; for me, Nite Owl is everything us nerds were afraid we’d get out of the whole Before Watchmen experience.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

18 comments on “Before Watchmen – Nite Owl 2

  1. When I say things are picking up a little, I mean that there is the tiniest speck of hope. Just to clarify. You are absolutely right on every front Shelby, especially the unnecessary frontal. No class.

  2. I had always gotten the impression that the Twilight Lady was some kind of midnight movie host a la Elvira. At the very least, I thought the autographed headshot he had meant that she wasn’t a person he actually knew, but was maybe a celebrity he waited in line to see at some sort of nerdy convention. Do Madames keep headshots of themselves? Would an easily embarrassed middle-aged man keep a signed picture of a prostitute in his house? I think some kind of D-list celebrity makes more sense than a dominatrix.

    • I always assumed she was another cape, maybe the kind that is sometimes bad, sometimes good. Sally had headshots, I’m sure, so that made sense to me.

        • Not to give the series too much credit, but the dominatrix-version of Twilight Lady could well be just how she got her start – turning into either a costumed hero or an Elvira type (which is also what I had assumed was the nature of her celebrity – “Mistress of the Night” is pretty similar to “Twilight Lady”) because of her interactions with Dan. That actually sounds like a painfully dumb story, so I hope that’s not the case.

  3. MOTHERFUCKER. Last month, JMS went to some pretty terrible lengths to foreshadow the relationship between Dan and Laurie, which not only felt like lazy referential material, but also served to de-value their eventual hook-up. Here again, he literalizes the connection between sex and costumed heroing. It makes me so fucking mad. Dan doesn’t finally work up the balls to fuck Laurie because he put on a costume and got violent – Nite Owl represents his power, his certainty, his agency, in short his ability to be a man. He’d be robbed of that, and scared as hell as the world spiraled out of control. He’s able to show passion again because he re-takes control of his life, not because his costume could be considered mildly fetishistic. FUCK THIS.

    • The Twilight Lady says their costumes share the same aesthetics. Last I checked, Dan was actually wearing a costume, so that’s just inaccurate.

  4. Pingback: Before Watchmen – Rorschach 1 | Retcon Punch

  5. Pingback: Before Watchmen – Nite Owl 3 | Retcon Punch

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