Brian Azzarello and Eduaro Risso’s 100 Bullets is back with a new 8-issue mini-series about Brother Lono. To celebrate, Azzarello sat down with Drew to discuss the new mini, the first issue of which is out today. We also ask him about Wonder Woman 21 (also out today) and his contributions to Before Watchmen. Spoilers for all issues discussed below. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Rorschach 4, originally released March 6th, 2013. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
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.
Today, Patrick, Drew and Shelby are discussing Nite Owl 4, originally released December 26th, 2012. Nite Owl is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
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!
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Rorschach 3, originally released November 12th, 2012. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Shelby: One of the many intriguing aspects of the Watchmen universe is the view of our actual history it offers. Alan Moore took the world we lived in and tweaked it just enough to allow for caped superheroes and one very real Super Man. It’s my favorite kind of science fiction; as much as I like far-flung fantasy, I’m most affected by books and stories set in times and places I believe in, that I can personally relate to. Looper is a great example; set about 40 years in the future, the people live basically the same lives we do now, the wealthy just have nicer phones and toys. Brian Azzarello has already shown us he’s very adept at blending history into the Watchmen universe with The Comedian, and with issue 3 of Rorschach, he shows us he’s actually been doing it the whole time here as well, we just didn’t notice.
Today, 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
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Minutemen 5, originally released December 5th, 2012. Minutemen is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Patrick: For all of its virtues, I don’t ever feel good after reading Watchmen. There’s beauty to be found in the way Moore and Gibbons express the fully realized psychology of their characters, but the world is undeniably grim. There’s not a single triumphant moment that isn’t heralded by some deeply disturbing underlying darkness. But in expressing this darkness, the original creative team is only exposing uncomfortable truths. It’s a rotten feeling that settles in your gut as you put the volume down and take it all in. Not many works even strive for this particular brand of profundity, but Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen achieves this frequently. In issue 5, the gut-punch is so severe as to send me back through previous issues and previous write-ups, muttering impotently to myself “say it ain’t so.” Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Silk Spectre 4, originally released November 28th, 2012. Silk Spectre is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Shelby: Silk Spectre has undoubtedly been one of the shining stars of the Before Watchmen event, and is hands down my favorite title of them all so far. I would even go so far as to call it one my favorite titles, period, and am supremely disappointed that it is already over. The art is clean and clever, the writing smart and natural. Amanda Conner and Darwin Cooke do not disappoint as they conclude Laurie’s story in San Francisco and seamlessly segue to the Watchmen Laurie we all know.
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Minutemen 4, originally released October 17th, 2012. Minutemen is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Drew: Is it fair to assume we’re all nerds here? Do you remember that feeling when C-3PO first shows up in Phantom Menace? That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realized this prequel was going to cash in on every moment of cheap recognition it possibly could? Not only did I not care where C-3PO came from, the explanation shown in Menace doesn’t make any fucking sense. The negative response to 3PO’s inclusion probably curbed Lucas’ origin obsession a bit, but he still managed to cram in Luke and Leia’s birth AND the building of the first Death Star, turning the whole prequel trilogy into a sad game of “spot the thing you used to love.” As the world’s most ubiquitous prequel, those movies effectively set my expectations for what a prequel should be, which may explain why I was so resistant to the notion of Before Watchmen in the first place; I was terrified of the prospect of stories focusing on petty details like where Ozymandias got the idea for his TV wall, or spending four issues explaining where that one headshot in Dan Dreiberg’s apartment came from. We’ve certainly gotten some of that, but titles like Comedian and Silk Spectre have turned those expectations on their heads by largely avoiding any such references. With Minutemen, Darwyn Cooke has embraced the third option — addressing the known history head-on with such deftness to make it seem inevitable.
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.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Rorschach 2, originally released October 3rd, 2012. Rorschach is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Patrick: Rorschach’s a hypocrite. I don’t know how clear that is in the original series. When you consider the costumed hero type, there’s a little bit of hypocrisy built right into the concept of “the law doesn’t apply to me.” One of the first things we see Rorschach do under Alan Moore’s pen is break a man’s fingers for essentially no reason. But Rorschach also distrusts humanity because he sees people as inherently self-interested and unwilling to help their fellow man. Moore makes this point explicit in issue #6, as Rorschach relays the story of Kitty Genovese to Dr. Long:
Kitty Genovese. Raped. Tortured. Killed. Here. In New York. Outside her own apartment building. Almost forty neighbors heard screams. Nobody did anything. Nobody called cops. Some of them even watched. Do you understand? Some of them even watched. I knew what people were then, behind all the evasions, all the self-deception. Ashamed for humanity, I went home.
But Brian Azzarello adds another layer of self-deception, this time to Rorschach himself.