Doomsday Clock 6 Circles Marionette’s Past as it Circles the Drain

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If I asked you to picture the single imagine that evokes Watchmen, what would you picture? Likely, you’re imagining the Comedian’s smiley face button, but I could also see an argument for Doctor Manhattan’s circular forehead logo. Both symbols are circles. I know that’s not exactly mind-blowing, but this is the level of visual rhetoric writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank are playing with in Doomsday Clock 6.

The series continues to slump along in much the same way it did last time we talked about it. This time, Marionette and Mime are the focus of the story, which really doesn’t do Johns or Frank any favors. Stripped of all but the most tangential references to the Watchmen universe, the creators are left with the tone and tools of the piece to tell a story that spans two tonally discrete universes. If that sounds like an inadequate set of tools to complete an impossible task, that’s because it is. Continue reading

Doomsday Clock 5 Meanders

By Drew Baumgartner

Doomsday Clock 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The essence of drama, and especially melodrama, is compression. Show only what’s important. So start the scene as late as possible and once the dramatic point is made, end it.

Dennis O’Neil, The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics

Pound for pound, this might be some of the best writing advice I know. But in this age of sequels, prequels, spin-offs and tie-ins, it seems like it’s all but been forgotten. That is, the artistic discipline of narrative efficiency is no match for the commercial demands of more familiar content. I don’t mean to dismiss all sequels etc. out of hand (The Godfather: Part II is a goddamned masterpiece, and is both a sequel and a prequel), but I do think they need to work a bit harder to justify their existence — if the details of this prequel story truly are essential, why weren’t they included in the original. And that scrutiny goes double when augmenting a beloved masterpiece. It’s absolutely possible for a sequel to justify itself, even under those circumstances (again, The Godfather: Part II), but it’s no easy feat. Unfortunately, the longer Doomsday Clock wears on, the less it seems up to that task, not only failing to justify its existence, but pretty much every storytelling choice it makes. Continue reading

Creator Interview: Brian Azzarello

interview brian azzarello

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

Before Watchmen – Comedian 6

Alternating Currents: Before Watchmen - Comedian 6, Patrick and Drew

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Comedian 6, originally released April 24th, 2013. Comedian is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

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.

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Before Watchmen – Comedian 5

comedian 5 B4W
Today, Patrick and Scott  are discussing Comedian 5, originally released February 13th, 2012. Comedian is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

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?

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Before Watchmen – Dollar Bill

Alternating Currents: Dollar Bill, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing Dollar Bill, originally released January 30th, 2013. Dollar Bill is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

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

Before Watchmen – Moloch 2

Alternating Currents: Before Watchmen - Moloch 2, Michael and DrewToday, Michael and Drew are discussing Moloch 2, originally released December 19th, 2012. Moloch is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: Breaking the Before Watchmen project into character-specific series makes is a novel but logical way to approach the prequel. After all, each of the Watchmen characters are their own distinct protagonists, each with a different set of skills, challenges, ethics, and goals. And while the technique might be somewhat novel in the comic book world, the last 20 years of cinema have acclimated us to disparate, chronologically skewed vignettes that reveal more of the story as they overlap. It’s a fun narrative technique that can enhance a nuanced story, allowing the storyteller to layer information and keep the reader interested with shifting perspective. But what of Watchmen? It wasn’t initially conceived in that fractured vignette style and not all the characters are equally interesting. This was my initial concern when starting Moloch/Edgar, because I barely remembered who Moloch was from the original Watchmen. Once I did recall him, I got bummed out, because he’s a sniveling pathetic character, a witless victim, and a dubious subject for a series. However, the second issue — which mercifully brings us all the way to Moloch’s death — crystalizes the series as a sober portrait of a sincere, tortured pawn amidst the narcissism, swashbuckling, and grand-scheming of the other Watchmen characters. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Comedian 4

Alternating Currents: Comedian 4, Michael and Drew B4WToday, Drew and Michael are discussing Comedian 4, originally released December 5th, 2012. Comedian is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: Comedian 4 begins with the opening lyric from Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” This isn’t in itself remarkable — Watchmen itself drew many of its chapter titles from lyrics, and many entries in Before Watchmen have prominently featured lyrics in a similar way. What is unusual about it is that it is immediately followed by a lyric from The Who’s “I Can See for Miles,” with the excerpted lyrics forming a brief thesis on Eddie Blake’s nihilism: “Hello darkness…Here’s the surprise. Come to talk with you again. I can see for miles…Miles and miles and miles and miles…” Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 4

ozymandias4B4WToday, Drew and Mogo are discussing Ozymandias 4, originally released November 28th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: I don’t envy Len Wein. The thought of writing a prequel to one of the greatest comic books of all time is daunting enough, but Wein faces the additional task of writing the thoughts of the smartest man on the planet. Super-intelligent characters like Sherlock Holmes are difficult to write realistically — the writer has to come up with problems whose solutions aren’t already apparent to the supporting cast and audience — but Adrian Veidt is an order of magnitude more difficult. This is someone who predicted the end of the world, then devoted years to realize a convoluted plan to divert it. Anything shy of that level of planning and premonition is going to feel like a letdown, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what we get inOzymandias 4. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Comedian 3

Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Comedian 3, originally released September 12th, 2012. Comedian is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Peter: I guess it’s never really occurred to me to ask who the main character of Watchmen is. Is there one? What do you think? I guess, based on the overall narration and beginning and then end, most people would probably say Rorschach. I mean he’s constantly working on his journal and is the in the background of tons of the cells. Even though he is rather absent from the majority of the main story, could you see The Comedian in that role? So far he’s appeared in almost every Before Watchmen  story in some capacity. Could Edward Blake be the true glue that holds this franchise together?

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