What a bad last issue. Poor Percio ends up doing something like four to eight panels a page to get all the story done and he doesn’t work well under pressure. Lots and lots of loose art.
There’s a fight scene at the climax. A pointless one. Actually, wait, most of this issue is pointless. Then there’s the goofy finish. In his adapting, somehow Johnston has drained everything good about Fashion Beast–as a comic–and instead puts forward this terribly done mimic of a movie.
Lots of the problems–probably all of them–are from the original script and plot. Moore doesn’t get off the hook (but he clearly didn’t care enough about Beast to adapt it himself). There’s barely any dialogue; the issue races. There isn’t any time for personality.
It’s an unfortunate end. Johnston’s lack of ambition–or freedom–in adapting Moore’s original script does it in.
The World; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Well, Tomboy finally gets a proper name.
But no lines. Lines aren’t important for anyone but the evil ladies working the clothes factory this issue. And the custodian girl gets a few scenes. It’s odd how Johnston brings things together from the first issue in the ninth. His sequential adaptation of the script is terrible on the technical level.
Lots of time passes this issue, with definite description–six weeks; it feels the like a comic for the most part, like this portion of Moore’s original script lends itself best to the format.
It’s too bad it’s not a good issue. Some of the dialogue’s good, but there are major plot holes and the whole thing’s inconsequential. The issue ends reversing a decision made at the start of the issue. It’s like half the issue didn’t happen.
Doll becomes a practical background player in her own comic.
It’s a shame.
The Star; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
More problems. Doll goes back to her old neighborhood and Tomboy shows her how everything has changed.
Only Johnston–and Moore, he doesn’t get off the hook for this one–never showed how it was when Doll was there. There’s no passage of time; Doll could have been a model for a couple weeks, a couple months or a year. Since Johnston and Moore never established the ground situation or how much time has passed since the beginning of Fashion Beast, it’s hard to say.
The lengthy tour with Tomboy explaining why functional fashion is better is trying. It’s Moore’s second big monologue about the place of fashion in the world and not even the first one worked. Fashion Beast isn’t enough about fashion for these monologues.
And then the shocker of an ending. It almost reads like Johnston hadn’t read the whole script when breaking it out to issues.
The Lovers; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Percio gets Fashion Beast’s most thankless task… trying to make the characters act.
With Johnston sticking to Moore’s dialogue and apparently unwilling to make it fit the comic medium better, Percio’s actually the one who has to make it work.
This issue features the boss–the titular beast–unintentionally (one assumes) flirting with Doll. So Percio has to illustrate his desire, her confusion and then her enthusiasm to it. All while the dialogue works against that reading; it’s a subtext and it’d be fine if it were acted, but comics don’t do well with subtext. Especially not with Johnston involved.
The result is a fast, slight read. There’s a lame opening montage, which Johnston could’ve done better in a page with a paragraph of totally acceptable exposition, the seduction scene and then Doll and Tomboy arguing.
Fashion Beast has a lot of problems (read: Johnston), but charms its way through.
The Fool; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
The next big twist is predictable. It just had to work out the way it does–I guess there was one other alternative but Moore and company had done enough with gender. It makes the majority of the issue sort of superfluous.
The real moment comes at the end when Doll becomes the protagonist again. Tomboy doesn’t show up the entire issue, which is a good thing for it too. Johnston hasn’t been letting Fashion Beast breath. He’s been putting things too close together.
This issue is a talking heads one and there’s only so much space with it. For once, Johnston doesn’t try to overextend the content.
It’s an odd issue–in some ways, it’s the best so far–but only because of that opening. One conversation allows for the series’s sublimest moment, but that one conversation isn’t anything special in itself, it’s just the fuel.
An excellent issue.
The Devil; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
And this issue has another big twist. It’s hard to guess whether there are any more coming up or if the big surprises only come before the halfway mark.
It’s hard to see where Fashion Beast is going in general. This issue has a handful of conversations, the bridging pages and not much else. But very little has actually happened. One of the big incidents this issue is actually something I assumed had already been resolved. Maybe Johnston isn’t allowed to add dialogue; a film script isn’t a comic script, after all. There’s no forced pacing to the comic, which the script clearly needs.
The dialogue anyway.
Tomboy continues to be the lead this issue, with the custodian girl seemingly flirting. Doll has become unlikable. All the good will the comic built for her is used up.
It’s okay–definitely intriguing–but only because the cliffhanger promises answers next time.
The Chariot; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Besides Moore’s dialogue, the issue’s got nothing going. It’s four conversations with Johnston inserting filler between them.
Doll and Tomboy argue about the outfit. Doll ends up seeing the boss about it. Tomboy and the custodian girl–who was supposed to be fired at the end of the first issue, I thought–have quick conversation, then Doll and Tomboy have another one.
Once again, Percio does wonders with Doll’s expressions. He doesn’t do as well with Tomboy, who sort of takes over the issue. But the dialogue is all fantastic so it plays quite well.
Johnston is very reductive in his adaptation. The transitions are usually montages, which make sense for something fashion-oriented, but if he’s going to confine activity to the clothes factory… he needs to bring more personality to it.
There’s almost nothing acknowledging the outside world here.
The dialogue and art continue to make it worthwhile.
Justice; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Ah ha, big plot twist this issue. Wonder if I should even mention it.
The comic picks up from last issue with Doll running away from the mean lesbian (who doesn’t even have a name–her t-shirt says Tomboy so maybe it’s the most concise moniker) and getting beat up by protestors. People starving in the streets, slowly dying from radiation in the atmosphere… they’re not thrilled with the fashion industry.
Then comes the big twist and Doll returning to the fashion factory, where things work out all right for her. Percio does a fantastic job with the expressions for Doll; her whole life changes in a few panels and he beautifully illustrates it. Makes up for some weak panels earlier.
The comic’s problem continues to be Johnston. He’s not breaking out issues well from the source screenplay; this one has a bad stopping point.
Still, it’s good.
Five of Swords; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
See, there you go, I had no idea the protagonist–her name’s Doll–worked at a nightclub. I thought she was working for the fashion guy, but no. Big fail from Johnston on that one.
This issue is a lot better than the last one, with most of the issue having Moore dialogue. There’s a nice expository opening–with people on the street filling the reader in on the ground situation–before Doll finally ends up at the fashion place.
Giving a transgender girl a masculine lesbian for a nemesis is a little odd, especially since not everyone is mean, just the villain fashion crones and the lesbian. There’s not enough texture to the supporting cast.
But, thanks to the dialogue and plotting, Doll comes through as a strong protagonist. She gets immediate sympathy thanks to the vicious bad girl, but her choices are also strong.
It’s getting better fast.
Death; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Given how much effort Alan Moore puts into his comic scripts–instructions to the artist for each panel, for example–one can easily tell he’s not writing Fashion Beast. Antony Johnston is–I assume–using Moore’s dialogue, but who knows what kind of instruction he’s giving artist Facundo Percio.
Did Johnston actually tell Percio to waste about a third of the issue on montage shots?
Once the comic gets going, it’s pretty good. The protagonist–at this point–seems to be a transgender girl who works as a coat check girl for the poshest fashion designer in a dystopian city. Percio’s visuals for the city are great; it’s like a mix of Dickensian London with classic Paris but set in the future.
The lead gets into a fight (at work) with her neighbor, a tomboy.
It’s a very slight issue, but ends promising thanks to Moore’ dialogue and Percio’s art.
The Magician; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.
Moore finishes Watchmen with two obvious questions. There’s the big one the final panel closes on and a smaller, cuter one from a couple pages before.
But there are a couple other questions he raises this issue. Two people, who have no reason to lie to anyone, lie. It’s as though Moore gives the more innocent characters a way out while still showing the complexities for the rest.
He also implies the complexities of the human condition with the old Silk Spectre, bringing Watchmen back onto the mortal plane from its grandiose heights.
But the issue is nowhere near as successful as the series’ best issues. Moore and Gibbons succeed in providing a satisfactory conclusion; sadly, that conclusion doesn’t have any other the narrative enthusiasm Moore shows elsewhere in the book.
In fact, the ending is so genial, so affable… it’s surprising Moore didn’t have a followup planned.
Adrian revealing his master plan, or just rambling on about himself, takes up most of the issue. At first, the amount of ego Moore gives him is a little jarring, but it soon becomes almost soothing, all because Moore understands the importance of a great final gag. Even when it’s about the end of the world.
While his unveiling is great, the best part of the issue is the supporting cast all coming together across the street from the newsstand. Moore lets his cynical characters clash with the idealistic in little and big ways–the lovers physical fight, the marrieds argument, the comic book reader rebuffing the newsstand vendor’s overtures of friendship–it mirrors the unvoiced conflicts of the main characters.
There’s also, finally, Moore’s subtle reveal of title’s origin. Just one dialogue balloon, it’s a jarring reveal, because it shows how much Watchmen is about.
Moore overreaches, but gloriously.
Moore wastes no time investigating the series’ mystery and resolving most of its questions. He took two issues to set up the conspiracy and less than one to resolve it. There’s a lot with Nixon and “The Black Freighter” here, so Rorschach and Dan’s investigation isn’t even the issue’s focus.
The character stuff sells this issue, particularly between Dan and Rorschach. It’s an awkward but tender comedy. But there’s other little character moments, some with the newsstand, for example. The best small one is actually between a couple surpurflous characters. Moore uses them to move along a scene about the mysterious island and its dark purposes and ends up with an incredibly touching moment.
Gibbons’s art excels this issue; there are a lot of first person panels and he executes the timing and emotion well.
In the home stretch, Watchmen‘s shedding its excess baggage. It’s sad to see Moore reduce.
It’s the Laurie issue, finally, and guess what? The Laurie issue doesn’t work.
Moore opens the issue with some more of the layered, simultaneous present action between issues, moving Laurie and Jon to Mars–and the issue does have the wonderful moment of “Oh shit, I’m on Mars,” but Moore doesn’t do anything with it.
In Watchmen, Moore’s created a superhero world where wonderment is still possible but he avoids it.
Anyway… this issue, the Laurie issue, is supposed to be about Laurie’s self-examination and Jon’s admiration of that self-examination.
It doesn’t work.
Moore’s gone too far showing Jon as incapable of such a reaction. Even if he hadn’t, Laurie’s realizations are a little too pat. They don’t extrapolate big enough.
There’s breathtaking art from Gibbons, maybe his best design work so far, but Watchmen isn’t about the art.
It’s about the story… and there’s not enough here.