[SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG TO POST THIS. IT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER THE SERIES ENDED. C2E2 COVERAGE GOT IN THE WAY OF THAT, SO I’M PROBABLY TOO LATE TO THIS PARTY.]
When I first heard that DC was going to do BEFORE WATCHMEN, I think my reaction was the same as everyone else’s: WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT? WATCHMEN is perfect on its own. Why would you cheapen it with a marketing ploy like that?
But of course, I was curious. I had to find out what it was really like. It boggled my mind that there were so many different titles dedicated to this. It seemed like overkill to me, and it just reeked of sales desperation.
Now that the whole thing is over, I can say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. DC put some of their best writers on this project, from Brian Azzarello to Darwyn Cooke to Len Wein to J. Michael Straczynski. If they absolutely had to do this project, at least they did it as well as they could. Sure, it was nothing more than a scheme to make more money off a prestigious title, but at least they didn’t half-ass it. They really wanted to make this the best they could.
That doesn’t mean it was good. But it was better than expected.
worst had to be NITE OWL. Let’s face it, Dan Dreiberg isn’t an interesting guy in his prime. He only becomes interesting when he’s a fat has-been who has a difficult time getting it up when he’s not in the suit. As a superhero in his prime, he’s completely bland. He did not need his own book, especially since it had very little to do with the direction the others were taking.
Truthfully, I didn’t care for “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” feature at the back of almost every book. It seems to only exist to fill in for the “Tales of the Black Freighter.” There is very little creativity there. It looked pretty neat, but there was very little substance there.
SILK SPECTRE was all right. Again, it didn’t tie in with the direction of the others, but it was kind of cool as a stand-alone. You already know my thoughts on the DOLLAR BILL one-shot. MINUTEMEN was actually a cool concept, filling in some details that were left out of the original WATCHMEN. OZYMANDIAS was a bit plain for my likes, although the layouts knocked me the fuck out.
However, DR. MANHATTAN was pretty interesting. At first, I thought they were going to use this book to change the original WATCHMEN story, which I would have been furious about. Luckily, it didn’t go that way. Like with OZYMANDIAS, the layouts were pretty impressive.
The big surprise was how disappointing RORSCHACH was for me. It was cool to see Rorschach in action, but it was almost a throwaway story. It didn’t bring anything new to the table. It tried to explain a bit why he is the way he is, but the thing is, we already have enough information to determine that.
On the other hand, MOLOCH brought a lot of cool shit to the table. It is easily my second favorite. We don’t get a lot of him in the original WATCHMEN, so it’s good to get his back story.
My favorite? COMEDIAN, of course. There was so much going on with this book that after a while, it might even be easy to see him as the main character of the WATCHMEN universe, even though he dies in the first few pages of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Azzarello brought the most to the table with this one.
All in all, I think it was worth my money. Not much more than that, though. There is one big concern, though. You know how sometimes, people get into an argument over how a newcomer should watch STAR WARS? Some people are of the opinion that you should watch the original trilogy first before the newer one. Others say you should watch it in order.
With WATCHMEN, there is no way you should read BEFORE WATCHMEN first. I hope no one gets the impression that they should start with BEFORE. There are waaaaaay too many spoilers in BEFORE for something like that. These books were intended to be read after one reads WATCHMEN.
Here’s the thing: WATCHMEN is perfectly contained within itself. We don’t need a BEFORE WATCHMEN because
Moore already gave us
that in the flashbacks. BEFORE WATCHMEN
relied far too heavily on material that originated in WATCHMEN. A lot of shit was repeated. Ultimately, this was an exercise in
futility. But it was just good enough in
the end to open my wallet.
Is it shameless in its exploitation of the original book? Yes. But at least you get some kind of return on that. Should BEFORE WATCHMEN exist? Probably not. The only motive the company had was to make more money. The writers and artists did their best to give it artistic merit, and they came really close to succeeding.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.