Out of all the Before Watchmen books offered, this was the one I was least interested in, but so far, it's the one I've enjoyed the most. This book blew away my expectations. The story follows Daniel Dreiberg as he transforms from a boy genius with a love for the original Nite Owl (Hollis Mason) into the character we know from the original Watchmen graphic novel. He had a rough childhood with a father who beat Daniel's mother in a world where he wants to make a change and work with the man he admires. J Michael Straczynski does a great job at adding to this world.
The transition from a genius of a kid into the new Nite Owl is brief buy enjoyable, and the best part of this issue is Daniel finding the positive father figure in Mason. It is a great moment to see this character find a glimmer of hope in the dark world around him as a man teaches him to be what he idolizes.
We also witness the birth of the relationship between Nite Owl and Rorschach, which is again brief, but it works very well, and I hope it's a dynamic we continue to see through this mini-series, since it's a wonderful part of this book.
Aside from a few small problems, Andy (pencils) and Joe Kubert (inks) give this book a great sense of style. It's a mixture of contemporary art, splash pages, and panels without borders with moments of silver age and bronze age art styles like inking and page set-ups. It's an interesting blend of styles that works well on the page and it fits the story and tone very well.
At times, these big moments in Daniel's life feel a tad rushed, like his training by Hollis and his first time working with Rorschach and building on that relationship. These are moments I'd like to see fleshed out over a whole issue rather than a couple of pages.
There were a few times in the issue I felt the inking was a bit much, especially with the cross-hatching.
This is what Before Watchmen should be. JMS is great at building upon Moore's world here and adding more to this iconic character. I loved seeing this issue play out and Daniel grow into the character, even though I felt major moments were cut a bit short. The art, aside from a couple of inking issues, really works well here and is a great mixture of classic and contemporary styles.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue because it is by far the best of the Before Watchmen books so far. This book really does add to the Watchmen world.