Published by DC Comics

Len Wein                           Writer

Jae Lee                              Artist

John Workman                    Letterer

June Chung                        Colourist

 

This is the final part in Adrian Veidt’s partisan recollection of his life. The book deals with events immediately before Watchmen and the death of the Comedian.

Although as a Watchmen fan I would have bought all the titles in the Before Watchmen series even if my cat had drawn them, I do think they have done themselves justice. I remember attending the DC panel at Kapow! last year and hearing about the creative teams chosen and the real thought gone into all the books. It really does show and the writers and artists have all surpassed my expectations.

One of the first things you notice about this title is the layout. After Gibbons’ strict symmetrical pattern in the books namesake, it couldn’t fail to be a feature in this work. Wein, Lee and Chung have really grabbed the bull by the horns with this series and, whilst paying homage to the original, made it their own. I could go on about how immaculate the art, layout and colours are until Sally Jupiter turns teetotal so instead I will focus on the story.

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In the last issue we saw Len Wein address the reason he originally resigned as editor of Watchmen in late ’87.  He felt the ending was unoriginal, too closely related to the plot of an episode of The Outer Limits in which an alien being is created to frighten the world into peace. So what else does Wein do to put this right but have Ozymandias find the inspiration for his solution in an episode of…The Outer Limits.

Ozymandias continues to further develop his plan in this issue and after burying his assistant, he sets to work employing great minds to bring to his Island. He also has to tie up any final loose ends, Moloch for example.

If there was a criticism to make, it would be that although this series takes place over almost five decades, very little in the artwork lets on at the changing eras. Although Adrian was born in the late 30’s the title seems almost stuck in the 20’s. It is certainly a less political book than it could have been, even though the main plot catalyst is the threat of nuclear attack during the cold war.

We get to see more of the last days of the Comedian and answer some of the questions Night Owl and Rorschach failed to in their original investigation of his death.  Lee’s line work is outstanding and very fitting for Ozymandias because of the form and sensitivity he uses, but seeing the Comedian in this style feels one step short of witnessing Wolverine in a tutu.

All the books in the Before Watchmen series are about character development and that is certainly what you get from these six issues. I don’t know if you gain any extra knowledge about Veidt’s motives or mindset from these stories but you certainly learn his history.

Yes Watchmen stands alone as a masterpiece, and yes DC totally created these titles to cash in on it, but as the series comes to an end I can’t help but feel that DC have produced a body of work that they are genuinely proud of.  It takes nothing away from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original creation and only adds more brilliance to it. This book is beautiful.

We received this comic from A Place In Space.

by Beth Slater