DC Comics has released another collection of its Before Watchmen series entitled BEFORE WATCHMEN: Nite Owl/Dr Manhattan. Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon Five, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man) wrote all of the stories in this collection, with art by the late Joe Kubert (Sgt Rock) and son Andy Kubert (Marvel’s 1602, DC’s Flashpoint) on the Nite Owl portion, and Adam Hughes (Superman/Gen13).
Nite Owl follows the adventures of Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite Owl. After teaming up with Rorschach after the initial meeting of the Crimebuster’s team, Nite Owl investigates a series of violent murders against woman, mostly hookers. Compelled to act due to witnessing his own mother being beat up by his father, he goes to the dark underside of New York, guided by a mysterious dominatrix know as the Twilight Lady.
Dr. Manhattan gets into the mind of the omnipotent hero. Able to see all of his life, both the past, present and future all at the same time, Dr. Manhattan knows the outcome of every decision and can avoid making the wrong one, But when he chooses to make a different decision in his past, he realizes he can see different timelines resulting from his choices. But with every possible timeline seemingly ending with the death of the world, Dr Manhattan has to choose which path to take to save all of humanity.
Like the other Before Watchmen books, the story is constricted by the event of the original Watchmen mini-series. J. Michael Straczynski’s writing is solid, but adds little to the characters.. In Nite Owl, the inclusion of Dan’s exposure to domestic violence as a child may have driven this story, but really has no bearing of the main series. Even the Twilight Lady was a reference to a panel in the Watchmen book. This series now gives that photo more context, but it is still inconsequential. Dr Manhattan was bit more interesting, as you got to see things from his perspective. The story gives you an idea of why Dr. Manhattan let thing happen the way they did in Watchmen. His main concern was the survival of the world and in the end, he got that. You even get a glimpse of what happened to him afterwards, as it is all happening to him all at once.
The art is well done. The Kubert’s art on Nite Owl is good and is well suited for the tome of the series. Adam Hughes’ art on Dr. Manhattan is also well done. While Mr. Hughes is most known for his pin-up like depictions of curvy super-heroines, his art captures the various timelines that Manhattan experiences well.
The book also includes the two-part Moloch series, depicting the life of one of the Minutemen’s old foes, his rise and fall and eventual employment by Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias. It is also written by Mr. Straczynski, with art by Eduardo Risso.
Like my last review, these are good stories that add to the backstories of the Watchmen characters. Fans of these characters may like this collection, as it pays tribute to the classic series.
The book retails for $29.00 US/ $35.00 CDN and IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS