Jae Lee is like the Norman Rockwell of comic books. His interiors in this latest issue of OZYMANDIAS are absolutely magnificent. From the depiction of the characters and their stoicism, to the choice of colors and shadows he uses to portray the mood and tone in a scene. The art speaks volumes and is one of this series' most redeeming qualities. This issue is absolutely stunning. The cover is equally so; one of my favorite covers of this week's new releases.
This issue picks up right where the last one left off without skipping a beat. The Comedian and Ozymandias are up against one another in a heated battle, but who will win? The Comedian is ruthless and we quickly discover that Ozymandias is equally so -- and conceited. At the center of this issue is Doctor Manhattan whose powers and intellect are rivaled by Ozymandias. At first, he is fascinated by the notion that there could be someone as intelligent as he (clearly he thinks pretty highly of himself). This fascination quickly turns to envy when he discovers that he has underestimated Manhattan's powers. I think that the progression from admiration to envy feels very natural and is depicted really well. It's clear that in the mind of Ozymandias, the introduction of Doctor Manhattan means that the character (Ozymandias) is no longer unique; there's nothing setting him apart from other costumed heroes anymore now that Doctor Manhattan exists. I like that the progression is natural. That at first we see a fascination, and then we see envy; and it's subtle. Yet, that fascination is still there, it still exists. I am interested in seeing how it becomes an obsession for Ozymandias and am looking forward to see how it shapes his future decisions.
There are several moments in this issue that lead the reader to think that Ozymandias is a control freak. First, he reveals in his internal monologue following his fight with The Comedian that he (Ozymandias) let The Comedian win their fight in order to "better analyze him." Later, during a charity event for a good cause he briefly meets Doctor Manhattan and proceeds to follow him and keep a watchful eye, analyzing his every move. If I had to guess, I would say that Ozymandias is certainly a "type A" personality; a sort of control freak that needs to have a hand in everything and needs to know the outcome of every situation. Whether his outlook and behavior can be attributed to his personality type or whether it's due to the fact that he doesn't trust anyone less intelligent than he is, well, that's up for debate. At the end of the day, we've watched him control every situation in the last three issues of his series. That's why I was so surprised to see there was such a massive contradiction in this issue.
One of the most important asset to any hero or villain is their base of operations. Take Batman, for example. Batman needs some place convenient, far out of the reaches of his adversaries. Someplace where he can alternate easily between his identity as the Caped Crusader and billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. This is why having the Bat Cave beneath Wayne Manor makes so much sense. So why wouldn't Ozymandias make a real personal effort to hand-pick his base of operations? Why would he leave that responsibility to his assistant?
As beautiful as this issue is, the action scenes are a little bit confusing because there's very little fluidity and movement in Lee's panels. However, this isn't really your typical superhero action comic, and the art does really compliment the story.
I am clearly on the fence with this issue. There are certainly things I really like about this comic, but also some things I really don't like. I love the art. I love the way the writer has managed to give us an interesting story. I don't want to like Ozymandias, but some part of me wants to keep reading ; and in that sense I think the writer has done his job. On the other hand I see a lot of contradictions in Ozymandias' characterization that are hard to overlook. As beautiful as the art is, it sometimes feels too rigid to be a comic book, and perhaps that should be rectified by the writer who may not necessarily be playing to the artist's strengths. In the end, it's an interesting book, and the story is beginning to pick up, but there are still some things I don't like about this issue. Would I recommend it? I don't know. I think there's an interesting story here and there is some really truly some gorgeous art, but it's certainly not a book I find I absolutely cannot wait to read next month.