Review- Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/ Crimson Corsair

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair collects six issues of the Before Watchmen: Ozymandias mini-series and the Crimson Corsair backup feature stripped throughout the Before Watchmen line.  Both are written by Len Wein (co-creator of Marvel’s Wolverine) with art on Ozymandius by Jae Lee (Fantastic Four: 1234) and John Higgins (2000 AD, colourist on Watchmen) on Crimson Corsair.

Ozymandias is written as an autobiography of Adrian Veidt, the man known as Ozymandias.  It follows him from his childhood as the son of immigrants to his travels in Alexander the Great’s footsteps to his making his fortune as an adult and to his superhero career.  He interacts with historical characters from the 1960’s and to the other heroes from the Watchmen books.  The books goes into his thoughts on how the world will react to a superhuman like Doctor Manhattan and shows the path that led him to his role in the original Watchmen series.

The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, originally stripped into two page installments amongst the books in the Before Watchmen line, is a supernatural pirate story, much like the comics that were popular in the Watchmen universe.  The story follows a young Scotsman named Gordan McClachlan, thrown overboard for mutiny.  He is “rescued’ by the Crimson Corsair, a cursed pirate sailing a ship of the damned.  In order to save his soul and escape the Corsair’s fate, McClachlan must gather three impossible tributes.  But will the quest damn his soul anyways?

Ozymandias is s slow read.  Adrian’s journey is mostly him reacting to the world around him and planning to save it.  The main action sequence happens in issue #3, where the Comedian fights Ozymandias to a drawn, foreshadowing events within the pages of Watchmen.  Like all the writers in this series, Wein is beholden to what was set up in the original book.  Jae Lee’s art is great for this book, giving the characters a realistic yet classic look.

The Curse of the Crimson Corsair is only loosely connected with the Watchmen mythos, and only in the fact that, in the story’s narrative, superhero comics died out and were replaced by pirate  and horror comics.  The story is dark tale that reads like something out of the old horror comics.  John Higgins’ art is very moody and sets this story out from the rest.  It is definitely a strange story to have in  the Before Watchmen series, but those familiar with the original comics will understand it’s inclusion.

Also included in this collection is a one-shot featuring the origin of Minutemen member Dollar Bill.  With art by Steve Rude, the story follows how an out of work actor became a superhero mascot of a New York bank and proved himself to be a true hero to the rest of his team.

For fans of  Watchmen, whether or not you’d like the book depends on how you feel about DC revisiting these heroes.  The particular book is fine, but the real draw is the Curse of the Corsair story, so it really depends on how much you like violent pirate curse stories.

Before Watchmen: Ozymadias/Crimson Corsair is out now for $29.99USD ($34.99CDN) .  IT IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS.

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Review: Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach

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BEFORE WATCHMEN:  COMEDIAN/RORSCHACH is a graphic novel collecting two series in DC Entertainment’s BEFORE WATCHMEN line,  Both series are written by Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, WONDER WOMAN) with art in COMEDIAN by J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS) and in RORSCHACH by Lee Bermejo (WILDC.A.T.S.)

COMEDIAN follows the life of Edward Blake, aka the Comedian during the 1960s.  The story reveals his close relationship to the Kennedys, both John and Robert, and his work for the CIA.  After President Kennedy assassination, Edward loses himself in Vietnam, becoming more violent and unstable.  He starts to see how everything he believed in was a joke and that he is the only one laughing.

RORSCHACH follows the unstable masked crimefighter and he takes on the scum of New York’s underworld.  A near fatal encounter with a crime boss named Rawhead sets him off on a one man war against his gang.  Meanwhile, a serial killer named the Bard is killing off women and carving words onto their flesh.

Brian Azzarello work in both book is good.  He writes both characters as flawed men, both committed  to doing what they think is right, no matter what the cost.  With the Comedian, it cost him friends and even his sanity; with Rorschach, he is already so far gone that he doesn’t know anything else.  Again, with the BEFORE WATCHMEN books, the writer is constrained by what occurs in the main series.  There is no real development or surprises in this story, besides some collateral damage.

Both Jones’ and Bermejo’s art work well in their books.  Both  draw their stories dark and moody.  Overall, the art in both books are well done.

This collection suffers from the same main problem as the rest of the series. but are by no means bad.  The story is decent, though I preferred RORSCACH’s tale of urban decay to COMEDIAN’s inserting the main character into real-life horrors and tragedy, like an anti-Forrest Gump.  Azzarello is a  very good writer, given free reign to write the story as he see fit (check out his current run on the New 52 Wonder Woman, one of the best things to come out of that).  He did not have that in these stories, which is too bad.

BEFORE WATCHMEN:  COMEDIAN/RORSCHACH is on sale now at books stores and comic shops.  It retails for $29.99 US ($35.00 CDN) and IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS

Review: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre HC

Note: This is a guest review I did for Geeky Girl Reviews. Why don’t you check it out at http://www.geekygirlreviewsblog.com/ ?

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When the Before Watchmen imprint was announced last year, the whole geek-o-sphere exploded. While some welcomed a chance to see some of today’s top talents in comics flesh out the history behind the ground-breaking mini-series, others were furious that DC Entertainment would try to cash in on the world that writer Alan Moore and artist Davie Gibbons made. While a case could be made for each side of the debate, the writers and artists of these series have added to the mythos. DC has released several hardcover collections of the various mini-series this month, one of them being Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke (CATWOMAN, RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER) and Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL.)

The Minutemen story is told through the character of Hollis Mason, the original Nite-Owl, as he prepares to release a tell-all about his days as a crime fighter alongside a team of heroes, called the Minutemen. The story spans from 1939, when the golden age of mystery men started to 1962 where a middle aged Hollis is trying to get his memoir, “Under the Hood,” published. Through Hollis, we learn more about these other heroes. While characters like the Comedian and the original Silk Spectre had their back story touched on in the original mini-series, we learn more about the others; Hooded Justice, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Captain Metropolis and the Silhouette. The storyline follows the fate of these characters through Nite-Owl’s eyes, filling in the blanks in the original story but with some twists.. Darwyn Cooke both writes and des the art to this book, giving it a golden-age feel, mixed in with a modern comic sensibility.

The second collected story is Silk Spectre, written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, with art by Amanda Conner. The story, set in 1967, follows Laurie Jupiter, destined to be the second Silk Spectre. Seeking to be free of her mother and her plan to have her daughter follow in her footsteps as a crime fighter, Laurie runs off to San Franciso with a boy named Greg and moves in with a hippie couple. But being a costume hero is in her blood and she finds herself drawn into the life. She finds herself alone against a drug cartel using drugs and music to control. Amanda Conner’s art is well done, especially the psychedelic trip sequence in issue 2.

Overall, both stories are good, with Before Watchmen: Minutemen being the stronger of the two. With a larger time frame to tell the story and multiple characters to flesh out, it adds more to the characters it features. Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, while good, does not really add much to the character of Laurie or her relationship with her mother. Any new characters introduced are just throwaways, especially the love interest, as Laurie’s career as the Silk Spectre is pretty much covered in the Watchmen series as is her relationships with Doctor Manhattan and Nite-Owl 2 later on.

I do recommend this collection to fan of both the original comic and/or the movie who would like to know more of the history of these characters and their world. Anyone who does not worship Alan Moore as a god can see that these stories do not diminish the original work, but serves to honour it

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/ Silk Spectre retails for $29.99 US ($35.00 CDN) and is available now at bookstore, comic book shops and online. THIS BOOK IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS