Doomsday Clock #2 (February 2018)

Doomsday Clock #2

Upon reading this issue of Doomsday Clock, which is regular length instead of extended like the first, I’ve decided I’m done. I don’t care about the identity of the new Rorschach. I don’t care how Rorschach gets on with Batman. Don’t care how Veidt gets on with Lex Luthor. Or why the Comedian’s back? Or did Dr. Manhattan create the DC Universe–Johns just integrates the big rumors about the series into the book. Why not. There’s nothing else to do.

The jumping off point isn’t the cliffhanger or the trip to Earth One. It’s Batman. It’s Bruce and Lucius Fox arguing over whether or not Batman is necessary. Maybe it’s in current DC continuity, I don’t know. Something about the Superman Theory, which I thought was the name of a bad comics convention bar band, but whatever. Don’t care.

Johns isn’t trying. He’s also got a gross sexist opening he can’t get away with because he’s Geoff Johns and craven and Gary Frank’s art lacks any subjectivity. It’s too objective for gross sexist bank managers. Frank’s art invites a lot of examination Johns’s writing really can’t support. Frank’s at least trying. Johns is not.

So. No more. Clock is stopped for me.

Unless the villain’s Labo at the end and Johns is daring the original creator to sue. But maybe not even then.

CREDITS

Places We Have Never Known; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

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Doomsday Clock 1 (January 2018)

Doomsday Clock #1

There’s one big problem with Doomsday Clock. It exists.

And a lot of it is worse than one might expect. Apparently, in 1992, after the plan at the end of Watchmen didn’t work out, the United States elected Robert Redford president. Only he isn’t a hippie dippy Robert Redford, he’s President Trump. There’s even a wall.

So, you know, if you want to read Doomsday Clock to make fun of Geoff Johns’s writing… it provides a lot of opportunity. Is it worth reading for that reason? Depends on whether or not you want a lot of fodder for mocking Geoff Johns.

Or maybe you just want to see Gary Frank “Gary Frank” a Watchmen sequel. Only one where the DC Universe gets involved. And that crossover–albeit to a different, somewhat darker DCU (I think, has DC changed Superman’s origin lately)–gets to have the Watchmen panel layout.

You think Frank and Johns weren’t going to ape Watchmen down to the panel layouts. Please. Doomsday Clock is craven and desperate.

It also seems to be implying, after Watchmen, Nite Owl feels so shitty about Rorschach dying he takes up the mask, as it were, and lives his life aping him. Or something. It’s dumb. It’s a Watchmen sequel written by Geoff Johns. Of course it’s dumb.

It’s kind of sad how dumb it gets. Especially when Johns brings in some costumed villain sidekicks for NuRorschach. They’re terrible enough maybe they were in Before Watchmen. But I’ve blocked that previous desperate attempt from DC to turn Watchmen into a brand name from my memory.

I finished Before Watchmen though. I’m not sure I really want to see what Johns and Frank have cooked up for them in After Watchmen.

I do want to know if the team refers to themselves as The Watchmen though. I really, really hope they do. If you’re going to show the world you’re an exceptionally pedestrian writer, you might as well do it on a corporate Watchmen sequel.

Is Doomsday Clock worth the read to intellectually dissect it and roast it? For five dollars? In this economy?

CREDITS

That Annihilated Place; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, Gary Frank; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Amedeo Turturro and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Moloch 2 (February 2013)

Straczynski turns Moloch into the martyr of Watchmen. And he gets away with it. Moloch’s such a broken soul, it’s feasible he’d bend to Adrian’s will. As for Adrian, who practically gets more page time here than Moloch, Straczynski seems to recognize what he and Moloch have in common… they’re both illusionists. Adrian’s convincing Moloch he’s doing the right thing, which includes killing lots of people.

The issue covers the time Moloch leaves prison–Adrian gives him a job fit for a member of the Red-Headed League–up until his death. Because Straczynski is so concerned with explaining another side of Adrian’s master plan, Moloch doesn’t really get to do much. He’s broken and sympathetic, nothing more. It’s too bad, since Straczynski writes him pretty well. He’s almost lovable.

Oh, and the pirate backup finally finishes. Higgins uses a lot of color for it but it’s still utter crap.

CREDITS

The Eleven-Thirty Absolution; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Conclusion; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Moloch 1 (January 2013)

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Even though Moloch appears in the original Watchmen, there’s a lot more talk about him than show. J. Michael Straczynski turns the character into a quintessential sympathetic villain. He was born with deformed ears, leading to teasing in childhood and other tragedies later in life. Straczynski uses first person narration, making the reader identify with Moloch even more.

Straczynski recounts most of Moloch’s career this issue–presumably next deals with how he ties into the original series’s big reveal–and it moves at a nice pace. Eduardo Risso’s a great choice for the art; he handles the forties time period beautifully. He plays with a lot of false innocence visuals.

I’m a little surprised Straczynski was able to do so much with Moloch. It probably helps he didn’t try too hard and it’s only a two issue series. The brevity helps move it a whole lot.

It’s an unexpected success.

CREDITS

Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Eduardo Risso; colorist, Trish Mulvihill; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Four; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill 1 (March 2013)

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It’s Steve Rude doing forties superheroes, so Dollar Bill always looks phenomenal. But it’s Len Wein writing and apparently he had a bunch of homophobic statements he wanted to make so he gave them to this forties superhero so he could get away with them. Lots of anachronisms–oh, and some good, old fashioned Jewish banker jokes.

But besides being mildly offensive, Bill isn’t a bad comic. The story of a newsreel superhero pretending it’s for real makes for an interesting read. Rude has beautiful compositions, whether static shots or action scenes. It’s just occasionally offensive. Well, maybe more dumb than offensive.

And the finale suggests magic in the Watchmen universe. Very special unoriginal narrative device magic. Wein’s a lazy guy.

It’s surprising all the Minutemen didn’t get one-shots. This guy isn’t even particularly interesting but they got a decently paced, beautifully illustrated, bad mainstream comic out of it.

CREDITS

I Want To Be In Pictures; writer, Len Wein; artist and letterer, Steve Rude; colorist, Glen Whitmore; editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 6 (June 2013)

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I’ve got to give Azzarello credit. He doesn’t just let Comedian get a little loose. He runs it entirely off the rails; with integrity, though. Definitely with integrity. Even when Rorschach and Nite Owl show up, Azzarello never lets the comic become a cheap tie-in.

Jones, on the other hand, probably never has a worse moment than those two guest stars. He does a terrible, terrible job with the scene. He does bad work throughout the issue–the end’s particularly confusing–but the guest star scene is inept beyond words.

It’s too bad Azzarello didn’t pull Comedian off. He got way too ambitious… if, by ambitious, one thinks of “Quantum Leap” as ambitious. In other words, his plotting is cheap, easy, predictable. But his writing of the scenes is so strong, one can almost forgive him.

But not with this finish. It’s just too damn slight. It’s a shame.

CREDITS

Eighties; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorists, Alex Sinclair and Lee Loughridge; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 5 (March 2013)

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Azzarello finally pushes too hard with the political history lesson and loses control of the series. It’s not a bad issue, just mediocre. Jones can’t draw Nixon, which is a problem.

Eddie barely figures into the comic at all. He’s trying to get through the jungle, fighting some Viet Cong–there are flashbacks to atrocities–but Azzarello sets it all against a report about his activities in Vietnam. It’s a familiar comic book device, maybe even one natural to the medium, but it changes the series’s natural progression. Just when Eddie was becoming a real character–or showing signs of being one–Azzarello removes his agency.

There’s barely anything to talk about with the issue, as Azzarello hinges it all on the big revelation Nixon is somehow involved. The issue might have worked better set against a history book than a CIA report.

Still, it’s not bad, just rather disappointing.

CREDITS

Kicks; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 4 (December 2012)

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And another good one. Azzarello likes doing war comics; he should stick to them. Even though there are some confusing parts to the narrative–Azzarello fractures it without establishing the bookends–and the song lyric excerpts don’t work, it’s a successful issue.

Towards the end, Eddie and his gang drop acid before going on patrol. If Azzarello had structured the whole comic around the trip, it would have integrated much better. Instead, it feels like Azzarello’s just explaining a series of events. That approach is good since the writing’s good, but the fracture structure feels too forced.

And there are some changes to Eddie. Azzarello never goes into how the changes really effect him, but some are very obvious. There’s no judgment in Comedian. Following his movie inspirations, Azzarello just lets Eddie and company personify the insanity of the Vietnam War.

It’s not original at all, just darn good writing.

CREDITS

Conquistador; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Six; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 3 (November 2012)

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It’s another surprisingly good issue.

Eddie’s on leave in Hawaii after he aggravated a riot while on leave in L.A. Azzarello structures the whole issue around him telling Bobby Kennedy (his strongest government supporter) about it.

Going between race riots and war protests, Azzarello manages to look do a nice little history issue. There’s not a lot of facts, but he definitely investigates the complications behind these things. And Eddie even gets a little character.

Eddie can’t have too much character, however, as Azzarello is moving him through the series as the reader’s guide through history. The other Watchmen superheroes haven’t shown up yet–and the brief mention of them this issue is a surprise–because they don’t work with what Azzarello’s doing.

This Comedian series is half done; it’ll be interesting to see if Azzarello can stay so gleefully disentangled from the original series in the second half.

CREDITS

Play With Fire; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorists, Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Five; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 2 (September 2012)

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Yeah, Azzarello definitely enjoys writing Comedian. There’s a lot of Vietnam War history here, a little American political history and almost no Watchmen connection. The Comedian could just be anyone. Azzarello never gives him anything superhero specific.

So, as a comic, it’s good, but–and I can’t believe I’m saying it–it fails as a Before Watchmen title. Eddie’s a corrupt, kill-happy advisor. Azzarello gives him no special personality, not even a real character moment in the entire issue. There’s a little with him hanging out with Bobby Kennedy, but not enough to make an impression.

It’s a war history comic. Jones’s art isn’t great for the subject, but he handles it better than superhero stuff I guess. There’s definitely a morose tone to it.

I’m hoping Azzarello doesn’t even try tying into the original series.

The pirate backup, shockingly, has a plot point. I didn’t they even bothered.

CREDITS

I Get Around; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Eight; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 1 (August 2012)

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I thought J.G. Jones was a better artist. I don’t know why exactly, but I did. His figures in Comedian are terrible. People change size, make no sense when standing next to one another. And his faces are even worse. It’s an ugly comic. I guess the editors didn’t think they could tell him to actually work at it.

Reading the creator team, I thought I’d have the problems with Brian Azzarello, but no. It’s all Jones. Azzarello does a really good job with the writing. Eddie’s still unlikable, but Azzarello gets how to make an unlikable character interesting to read.

There’s a great finish; the issue’s got a couple big historical moments. The first is somewhat slight, but Azzarello does wonders with the second.

I can’t imagine he’ll be able to maintain this level of quality plotting.

The pirate backup’s not the worst ever, but strangely annoying here.

CREDITS

Smile; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Three; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 4 (April 2013)

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So Rorschach really became Rorschach after the serial killer went after his girlfriend. While this event occurs–which Bermejo shows from the serial killer’s perspective, because he’s apparently supposed to be someone recognizable–the other bad guys are torturing Rorschach. He gets away because of a coincidence.

The one interesting thing Azzarello does is rip off “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” The main bad guy takes the Rorschach mask and fights crime during a blackout.

Not sure how there’d be a blackout with a lot of crime with Nite Owl, the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan around… but, like I’ve been saying, it doesn’t appear Azzarello’s read Watchmen.

Even with all the violence and action, it’s a very boring issue. It’s just too dumb for anything to redeem it.

And, again, whatever editor okayed the story arc as a life changing thing for Rorschach? He or she proves DC’s editors are ironically incompetent.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Lee Bermejo; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 3 (January 2013)

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Travis Bickle guest stars in this issue. Azzarello’s deep, man, he’s really deep.

He also sets up Rorschach’s girlfriend to get killed, which will undoubtedly explain why he loses himself completely in the mask. The Before Watchmen editors clearly didn’t coordinate or they just gave Azzarello free reign. He uses it to write a really lame comic book.

The entire issue reads in a few minutes, even though it takes place over a day. Azzarello doesn’t try to write much in the way of narration here, either because he’s too enthralled with his dumb plot twist involving the girlfriend or because he realized he’s incapable of writing good narration. I’ll assume the former. If it were the latter, there would be other signs of progress in the issue.

I hadn’t realized before, but Bermejo doesn’t draw fluid environments well. When people are interrupted, in dialogue or movement, he flubs it.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Lee Bermejo; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Rob Leigh. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Eight; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 2 (December 2012)

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Azzarello gives Rorschach a love interest. Maybe he didn’t read Watchmen after all. I was kind of kidding before, but now I’m not so sure.

The series is a mix of bad ingredients. Azzarello and Bermejo go for visual realism, whether in the depictions of the city or its people, but then Azzarello writes a goofy bad guy out of an exploitation picture. He’s got a pet tiger and a supervillain name and a skin condition out of Ennis’s Punisher MAX.

The series’s problem is its derivative details, specifically how none of them are derivative of the original series. Rather, it’s stuff Azzarello likes. Or thinks is good. Or just plain wants to rip off.

Maybe if he had a consistent handle on the character, the issues would read a little better. But Azzarello lacks commitment. Rorschach is clearly just a paycheck to him and it shows on every page.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Lee Bermejo; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Rob Leigh. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Eight; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 1 (October 2012)

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Wait, am I really supposed to take Rorschach seriously? Brian Azzarello’s writing of the narration suggests he’s never even seen the Watchmen movie, much less read the comic. It’s like he heard there was crazy narration and did a terrible job approximating it.

The series is set in 1977, in New York City. Taxi Driver would be the most obviously influence on Lee Bermejo’s art, except the art is slick and shiny. Rorschach looks desperately fake.

There’s an inexplicable, goofy lack of reality to the writing. Rorschach gets his ass kicked, but the bad guys don’t kill him. They don’t make sure he’s dead, even after they lay an elaborate trap to catch him. Instead of doing a hard boiled Rorschach comic, Azzarello writes one with less teeth than an episode of “Simon & Simon.”

The only teeth Azzarello gives this one are poorly constructed dentures.

And pirate backup is terrible.

CREDITS

Damn Town; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, Lee Bermejo; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Rob Leigh. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part One; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 4 (April 2013)

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More 2001 visual references–heck, maybe even a 2010–and Hughes gets over his aversion to Jon’s big blue penis… but it’s a lackluster finale issue.

Straczynski has to tie into the original series, which means bringing in Adrian, and the whole thing becomes a bore. He not only doesn’t do anything interesting with Jon–the monolith epilogue should have been the whole issue–he writes a very annoying Adrian.

For the first time in the series, Dr. Manhattan feels like just a tie-in comic. All the originality Straczynski previously showed is gone. It becomes perfunctory. It’s too bad.

The series’s big question–what does Jon want out of his existence–never gets addressed. And unlike Moore, Straczynski doesn’t play it like a precisely choreographed graphic narrative experience–Jon has too much character to just get pushed aside for Adrian.

Still, the series’s previous successes outweigh the lame finish.

CREDITS

Changes in Perspective; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Adam Hughes; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 3 (February 2013)

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In a lot of ways, Straczynski has turned Dr. Manhattan into a neatly disguised rumination from a fictional character questioning his relationship with his environment. Jon wants to change his personal narrative to make it a happy one, which turns out to end the world. One has to wonder why he didn’t just try to remove the costumed adventurers all together… as in our reality (all Straczynski’s quantum mechanics has got me talking like he does), there was no nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

It would’ve been too cute maybe.

Straczynski continues to write Jon quite well. He captures some of the isolation and melancholy from Moore’s characterization and expands upon it. The whole family history thing is fantastic.

This spin-off is probably the best thing Straczynski has written.

Great Hughes art (he wimps out on the detailed blue penis though).

Awful pirate backup.

CREDITS

Ego Sum; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Adam Hughes; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Steve Wands. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Nine; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 2 (December 2012)

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Straczynski and Hughes aren’t satisfied with just playing with Watchmen here–Hughes does a lovely montage featuring imagery from the prequels and the original–they also feel the need for a 2001 reference. Dr. Manhattan is interesting because of that ambitiousness.

For example, Straczynski’s writing is concerned with being smart and thoughtful. The series is an informed layperson’s rumination on quantum physics. He’s designing the whole comic around the idea Jon can unmake the universe based on how he choses to perceive it. That idea’s a big one–and Hughes is the perfect artist for the fantastic reality of it–but it’s not necessarily tied to Watchmen.

Instead of wrapping himself around the original’s mythology, Straczynski takes some characters and details and goes off in an entirely independent direction. Even when he does tie into the other prequels, it feels organic.

It’s nice.

The pirate backup even looks quite good.

CREDITS

One Fifteen P.M.; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Adam Hughes; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Steve Wands. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part One; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 1 (October 2012)

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There’s something cool about Dr. Manhattan. Not just because Adam Hughes does the art–though the way he’s able to be stylized and still fluid is impressive; I wasn’t expecting him to do sequential so well.

And it’s not cool because J. Michael Straczynski tries so hard to ape Alan Moore’s “voice” for Jon. It’s cool because Straczynski actually comes up with something a little different than the rest of these Before Watchmen books.

Well, the ones trying to deal directly with the original series’s events. While Jon’s off on Mars, Straczynski gives him a side adventure. He goes into it without trying to tie it into the original series. It’s like he’s broken the timeline between the original and this prequel.

So between this approach, Hughes’s artwork and Straczynski’s successful aping of Moore’s voice for the character, the issue’s not bad.

The pirate backup, however, is horrendously written stuff.

CREDITS

What’s in the Box?; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; artist, Adam Hughes; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Steve Wands. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Two; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 6 (April 2013)

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So Adrian has constant video surveillance of Dr. Manhattan but he gets important news from the newspaper? Shouldn’t he have agents or spies or… own a newspaper?

I’m being too kind. I mean, if one assumes the finished scripts represent edited versions of Wein’s original draftings–assuming this situation might be a stretch, given the terrible editing on this series–I can’t imagine how bad Wein’s first drafts must read. How exceptionally insipid.

After suffering through five issues of this tripe, all Wein does with the last issue is do scenes of things Alan Moore summarized in the original series. The content’s no different.

Even as a cash grab, Ozymandias makes no sense. It’s mind-numbingly dumb and even one likes Jae Lee’s art, it’s not like Wein gives him much good to draw.

I’m left without anything nice to say about this comic. Even the last page is atrocious.

CREDITS

Nothing Beside Remains; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 5 (March 2013)

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A few issues ago, Wein did a bunch of foreshadowing of the eventual reveal in Watchmen–Adrian’s master plan. This issue he has Adrian trying to figure out that master plan, which means all the obvious details from before were just for the reader’s benefit.

Wein never can figure out how or when to make Adrian the smartest man in the world.

This issue covers the police riots, sadly not doing much more with them than the original series does, only with Lee’s too design-oriented view of New York. He sucks the personality out of it, though Adrian’s tropical island works out.

There’s also a lot of terrible dialogue from Adrian’s assistant. Wein writes these characters’ conversations like it’s a back and forth from Clerks. Surely he doesn’t think that film’s characters are examples of geniuses.

Who knows… It’s so close over so I find it hard to care.

CREDITS

These Lifeless Things…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 4 (January 2013)

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Where to start… when Wein brings up Rorschach in 1960 but then later says he doesn’t show up until a few years later? I hope the editors didn’t get paid for this one in particular.

The only distinct thing in the comic is Wein’s handling of the Kennedys. Adrian’s very judgmental of them, but then turns around and tries to solve the assassination. In another of Wein’s dumb moves, Adrian can’t figure it out. Wein sets up everything for Adrian’s easy success; Adrian actually having to think would be a nice change.

The dead girlfriend pops up. Apparently she’s been haunting him. Wein never mentioned it before, as his characterization of Adrian is completely inept.

Some weak art from Lee. His rendering of Silk Spectre is the most memorably bad (and she’s only in the comic for two panels).

At least, the pirate backup’s worse than the feature this time.

CREDITS

Shattered Visage…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Five; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 3 (November 2012)

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Len Wein has been writing comics for decades. He’s definitely an adult. Why does he write dialogue Yogi Bear would find infantile? Except the stuff with the Comedian making gay jokes about Adrian. Those comments read a little meta given Wein’s awkward handling of Adrian’s sex life.

Though Wein does write Eddie’s double entendres like he’s just seen his first “Dynasty.” Ozymandias is so poorly written, it’s occasionally embarrassing to read.

There are a few red herrings to kill time before Wein makes his big reveal–Adrian had the plan for Watchmen way back in 1959. Because he’s so smart. This series would have been better spent going through the books on Adrian’s shelves than Wein’s lame attempts at a narrative.

It’s awful.

However, Lee finally does find something he can draw. The scenes in Antarctica do look awesome.

And the pirate backup is once again better than the feature.

CREDITS

The Heart That Fed…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Seven; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 2 (October 2012)

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Wein seems to think giving Adrian very purple narration suggests intelligence. It doesn’t. Adrian’s of “sleek” as an adjective is laughable.

Then there’s the problem of the thugs oscillating between ostentatious dialogue and traditional moronic thug dialogue. Wein is trying really hard; it kills any chance the series has–which isn’t much, given Lee’s painfully static art.

Speaking of Lee, his rendition of the Comedian is some of the worst comic art I’ve seen in a while. There’s only the one reveal page, but it’s truly hideous.

Wein rips off some details from the Shadow–the agents of Adrian (maybe Moore had those too)–but it’s otherwise indistinct superhero stuff. Lots of cursing to show it’s a grown-up comic book and not for kids.

As for the ties to the rest of Before Watchmen, a good editor would’ve made them more integral.

The pirate backup’s got really lazy art.

CREDITS

The Hand That Mocked Them…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Ten; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 1 (September 2012)

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I don’t know what’s more amusing in Len Wein’s wordy exposé of Ozymandias–the idea of majoring in Alexander the Great in post-graduate work (seriously, did no editor explain to Wein how higher education functions) or Adrian being ashamed of his homosexual dalliances.

Wein has Adrian recording his memoirs during the final events of the original Watchmen and Adrian hides the gay adventure. Jae Lee’s art shows it while the text obscures it. If you’re going to be vaguely homophobic about it, why put it in? Unless it’s because Adrian’s just the bad guy.

Speaking of Lee’s art… It’s bad. Every page is meticulously designed like a cover–even the part where Adrian hallucinates on hash (the world clearly operates differently in the Watchmen universe)–but boring. And Lee’s incapable of drawing Adrian’s eyes. It’s a funny looking comic.

The pirate backup may actually be better than the feature.

CREDITS

I Met a Traveler…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Five; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 4 (February 2013)

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Once again, I’m left wondering if there’s some intentional misogyny in these Before Watchmen series just because it would horrify Alan Moore.

This issue we learn Nite Owl has this costumed madam–something Straczynski never makes feasible–in love with him and he’s in love with her but he later mocks her in Watchmen to Laurie.

I’d forgotten that particular detail from the original series, but wow, Straczynski really harps on it. I like how Hollis gets a pass, how Rorschach gets a pass, but not the madam. Unless Straczynski’s whole point is to make Dan unlikable and to make people dislike him when rereading Watchmen.

As I doubt anyone would reread Nite Owl. I’m not even sure the editors read it.

It’s shallow, trite and mean. Lame tie-in to the original series at the end too.

Kubert’s art is awful but I think his dad had just died.

CREDITS

From One Nite Owl to Another; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inker, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano; editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 3 (November 2012)

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Well, Straczynski doesn’t spend too much time with Rorschach this issue, just enough to remind everyone he’s around. He also doesn’t continue the narration from Dan. Why? Because Straczynski doesn’t go for any kind of narrative continuity; Nite Owl’s an editorial disaster. I guess no one told Straczynski to at least be consistent in his lameness.

And, except the art (which is often quite bad), Nite Owl’s more lame than anything else. Straczynski treats Dan like a bit of a tool, introducing the costumed madam as a way to show off how little Dan has going for him. Because, after reading Watchmen, everyone wanted a comic about Dan Dreiberg losing his virginity to a vaguely condescending madam.

Straczynski also makes the juxtaposing of Dan and Rorschach crystal clear. Lovely to read someone who treats his readers like illiterate boobs.

The Higgins pirate thing is especially bad here too.

CREDITS

Thanks for Coming; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inkers, Joe Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Six; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 2 (October 2012)

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Why didn’t they just combine this series with the Rorschach one? Straczynski probably gives Rorschach a third of the issue anyway. He’s juxtaposing Dan and Rorschach’s differing Mommy complexes, which would work for a combined book. But for one called Nite Owl? Doesn’t make any sense.

There’s not a lot of callbacks to the original series here, except Rorschach getting his sign. Why doesn’t he get in his own series? Because Straczynski doesn’t have a story for Dan, not really. He’s got Dan chasing down some leather madam–gratuitously topless woman in a DC regular comic alert–because of his Mommy issues.

There’s also a lot of stuff Straczynski should have included in the first issue regarding Dan’s home life. It’s unclear how he’s a millionaire when his family lives in a very middle class home. Straczynski definitely should have addressed it.

The art’s real bad this issue. Real bad.

CREDITS

Some Things Are Just Inevitable; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inker, Joe Kubert; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Nine; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 1 (August 2012)

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Given the problems, Nite Owl is a lot better than it should be. Straczynski writes Rorschach and Nite Owl well together. The humor of a gentler Rorschach helps it.

Now for the problems.

It’s trite and obvious; no surprise from Straczynski. He’s got Dan blathering about his fate with Laurie. Then there’s a line to tie-in to the Minutemen series, only that series didn’t set this one up. Then there’s the retcon regarding Dr. Manhattan perving on Laurie.

Oh, and Dan’s abusive father. It reads a little like “Dr. Phil meets Watchmen” for the beginning. Straczynski introduces one bold move but then backs off immediately.

As for the art… Joe Kubert inking Andy… It’s a mess. It has a retro feel, with Andy really pushing for his dad’s style. At its best, the art’s mediocre. At its worst? The backgrounds look photoshopped.

It’s a breezy read and not atrocious.

CREDITS

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch; writer, J. Michael Straczynski; penciller, Andy Kubert; inker, Joe Kubert; colorist, Brad Anderson; letterer, Nick Napolitano. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Four; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 4 (January 2013)

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Looks like Conner rushed a bit with the art. The issue opens fine and closes okay, but there are some definite rough patches.

The ending is atrocious, when Cooke and Conner tie it directly into a scene from Watchmen, only now we get to hear Laurie’s take on the scene. Guess what? Neither Cooke nor Conner–whoever wrote the scene–are as good of writers as Alan Moore. Shocker.

Otherwise, the issue’s not terrible. Instead of letting her be a hippie superhero, which was interesting and fun, the writers wrap everything up neatly for the finish. And the writing between Laurie and Sally is terrible, which doesn’t help things.

Hollis Mason shows up for a little bit and he should’ve been the narrator of the whole series, given where it goes.

Again, it could be worse–like as bad as Higgins’s pirate story–but it could be a lot better.

CREDITS

The End of the Rainbow; writers, Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner; artist, Conner; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Three; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

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