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First Impression: BEFORE WATCHMEN Limited Series

We visited the DC Entertainment office to get an early look at all 7 BEFORE WATCHMEN limited series. That's right, we've read all the #1s (and some of the #2s)!

WATCHMEN is seen by many as the comic book everyone should read. There's no questioning its importance to the genre. When it was announced that DC Entertainment had plans to do a set of prequels under the BEFORE WATCHMEN banner, there was a lot of discussion about it amongst fans. Some readers are against the idea while others couldn't be more excited. With the inclusion of some of the industry's top talent working on the titles, it started to become a little difficult to be too skeptical. But seeing will be believing.

And that's exactly what we (Tony Guerrero and Sara Lima) did.

Upon receiving an invitation to visit the Burbank office of DC Entertainment to check out BEFORE WATCHMEN, it didn't take us long to start making plans to fly down. That's right, we flew down to LA just to check out the comics. Let me tell you, it was well worth it.

After our remarkable tour of the office (more on that later), we were left alone with a giant oversized binder containing all the first issues of BEFORE WATCHMEN along with some of the second issues all in various stages of development. Some of the issues were complete while others weren't available for viewing in color, etc.

While we did read every single #1, we're not going to get into the specifics of each issue. We'll save that for the reviews when the issues begin hitting store shelves in June. For now, here's our quick first impressions on each series. If you've had mixed feelings before, perhaps this will help you decide on purchasing the titles.

== TEASER ==

MINUTEMEN

Written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. On sale June 6.

Little did we know that the poor boy would lead to the end of us all.
  • Beautiful book. Darwyn captures the era and time period brilliantly.
  • Cooke is the perfect choice for this title.
  • Hooded Justice feels very creepy
  • Issue #1 serves as a fantastic introduction to all of these characters, and is a great origin story of the team

SILK SPECTRE

Written by Darwyn Cooke with art by Amanda Conner. On sale June 13.

Oh sweetie, you're too young to hate. Wait until you're older and the world gives you a good reason. Trust me, it won't let you down.
  • Cooke captures the relationship between mother and daughter
  • Conner's art could tell the story on its own even without text.
  • Conner delivers animated panels that give the reader insight into the mind of an adolescent Silk Spectre who doesn't get along with her Mother.
  • There's an interesting parallel in this issue between the older Silk Spectre reminiscing about her past as a crimefighter, and her young daughter who is daydreaming about the future.
  • Lot's of flashbacks in this issue.
  • This comic exudes fun.

COMEDIAN

Written by Brian Azzarello with art by J.G. Jones. On sale June 20.

I'm a funny guy...
  • Saw some colored pages, read the uncolored version
  • Comedian is friends with JFK and with Jackie Kennedy, mention of Marilyn
  • Takes place in the 1960's
  • Lot's of use of iconic cameos, people, pop culture references from the time
  • Azzarello seems to play with history by integrating the Comedian in these historical moments/playing up these historical relationships
  • The use of so many iconic figures in this book makes it feel forced and over saturated; like the writing is trying too hard to make the character seem relevant to the time -- the result is that the story felt a little flat.

NITE OWL

Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Andy and Joe Kubert. On sale June 27.

The hero known to the public only as Nite Owl announced his retirement today.
  • Colored pages, no text. Some lettered pages.
  • Feels like a Batman story in part because of Kubert's art, and also because the story is so tragic.
  • Looks great. Definitely a different feel from the other titles.

OZYMANDIAS

Written by Len Wein with art from Jae Lee. On sale July 4.

I have goals to achieve. Dreams to make come true.
  • This issue is like one big Norman Rockwell painting. The art is absolutely breathtaking. The visuals are amazing.
  • Read penciled and inked versions.
  • Really great layout -- very different from the other books.
  • Flashbacks to his youth.
  • Colored version not available. Wonder how the colors will affect the art.

RORSCHACH

Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo. On sale August 15.

What made you this way?
  • Very graphic, more so than the other books.
  • Dark, grim, highlights the seedy, dirty underbelly os a society engulfed in pornography and drug addiction. Bermejo's usually angelic visuals capture the grit and grime of this story.
  • Is Azzarello capturing the sheer essence of Moore's Rorschach, or is he simply playing with the audience by attempting to shock them as much as possible?
  • Very adult themes.
  • Bermejo's art is phenomenal.

Dr. Manhattan

Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Adam Hughes. On sale August 22.

I watch as a box containing a mystery is lowered into the soil.
  • Very pretty
  • We only saw the black and white inled version of the book, no lettering
  • Feels like a Dr. Manhattan book
  • The issue really captures a sense of sadness, loneliness and complete isolation that the character exhibited in the original Watchmen series.
  • Does it feel so lonely because of the lack of text? The fact that you can tell what's happening in each panel of the book by simply looking at Hughes' pictures is proof enough that the art in this issue is breathtaking.
  • How will Hughes' interior art look when colored?

CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR

Back up in each issue. Written by Len Wein with art by John Higgins.

  • As beautiful as John Higgins' art is in this story it, of all of these books, this story seems the strangest to read. This, more than any other, feels too much like Alan Moore and thus, felt like a violation of Moore's ideas more so than the expansion of the Watchmen Universe.
  • The CRIMSON CORSAIR is a back-up story you can find at the end of MINUTEMEN, and the story will move from one issue to another, forcing the reader to go out and buy issues they may not have wanted to pick up initially in order to continue the story.

That's our first impressions. Have you decided where you stand with BEFORE WATCHMEN? Are you planning on giving each title a try?

If our thoughts weren't enough, click here to check out what our friend Joey Esposito over at IGN thought (we ran into him at the office as well).

109 Comments
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Posted by bamaboykmb

I'm really curious about minute men

Posted by Apis

Just not sure its a good idea. It's like reading the Middle of a story when you already know the begining and the end.

Posted by ChaosAgent

@Apis: I get where you're coming from, but it's interesting to see the characters of the Watchmen universe being explored more. Alan Moore/DC controversy aside, I was a huge fan of the story and characters, but always felt as if there was something more to it that we weren't seeing. Perhaps this sense of ambiguity is better left alone, but I'll certainly being looking forward to how this pans out.

In regards to your analogy, some people love prequels/revelation stories and the like. Take Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. It came out years after Final Fantasy VII. Everybody knew Zack was going to die in the end, but they still bought it. Just like with this story. We know what happens. All of the Minute Men besides Sally will still die. Ozymandias will still kill The Comedian. Rorschach will still die by the hands of Manhattan in the end. But the final outcome to a story isn't what a prequel is about. It's about character development. Seeing things we haven't before, or seeing them in a different light, from a different perspective.

Posted by Marssolesurvivor

hmmm...I'm sorry but no. Watchmen has transcended comics and went into literature. I wouldn't read a prequel to Moby Dick or Stephen King's IT. Won't read these. I also sincerely hope that this isn't some attempt at trying to work these characters into the nDCU.

Posted by batfan1939

@TheHeat: Awesome RandomGuy ref!

On-topic, I think this looks interesting, and it sounds like the art will be amazing.

Posted by CrimsonAlchemist

Definitely getting Rorschach & Comedian the rest could make good toilet paper

Posted by TheHeat
@Billy Batson said:

Might get the Comedian and Rorschach as trades.
BB

Same here.
Posted by lady_toyano

im buying everyone save for Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, and maybe Silk Specter.

Posted by _Cain_

@CrimsonCake said:

Before V for Vendetta...Anyone?

Actually I'd like to see a sequel where Evey Takes on the Mantle as V, And hunts down those who were left of Larkhill and those Left of Norsefire.