Mark: Alan Moore’s Watchmen is regularly heralded as the finest work ever produced in the medium of comics, but it wasn’t born in a vacuum. Moore’s original pitch was to use heroes from DC Comics’ then recent acquisition of certain Charlton Comics characters like Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question. In the end DC had other plans for their new IP, but Moore used those heroes as the frameworks for his invented characters. Now, almost 20 years later, the all-star team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely flip Moore’s original vision on its head in The Multiversity: Pax Americana 1. On Earth-4, Peacemaker is our The Comedian, The Question takes on characteristics of Rorschach, Captain Atom those of Doctor Manhattan, and Blue Beetle reflects Nite Owl. If Watchmen is a snake eating it’s own tail, Pax Americana is the tail biting back just a bit. Continue reading
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.
Today, 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
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Ozymandias 5, originally released January 30th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
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.
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, 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, 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
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, Drew and Shelby are discussing Ozymandias 3, originally released September 26th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Drew: Part of what made me so resistant to the idea of a Watchmen prequel series is my immense respect for the original series. Not that it was a sacred cow — though, arguably, it is — but that anything that failed to meet that very high level of respect for the material would feel inherently disrespectful. I understood that maintaining that level of respect would be incredibly burdensome to creators, narrowing narrative possibilities to a knife’s edge. To my surprise, many titles have not only matched my respect for Watchmen, but have exceeded what I thought would be possible while doing so. Other titles have not fared as well, failing to justify their own existence, or — worse yet — failing to hold the source material in the proper esteem. Ozymandias has managed two issues without falling firmly into either category, and while issue 3 falters a bit, I’m still unsure if it is a success or a failure. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Nite Owl 3, originally released September 19th, 2012. Nite Owl is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).
Patrick: Look, not everyone’s a superhero. Right? That’s the point of Watchmen — it takes a special psychology to don a cape and cowl and fight crime by night. With each character-revelation, Alan Moore seems to say “look how fucked up these people are.” Moore employs some pretty blunt tactics to deliver this message, going so far as to devote an entire issue to Walter Kovacs’ therapy sessions. J. Michael Straczynski attempts to explore Dan Dreiberg’s mind with a similar blunt force, but ends up losing Nite Owl and Twilight Lady in the process.