Monday, February 24, 2014

Review of Before Watchmen: Comedian & Rorschach

Book #6. Before Watchmen: Comedian * Rorschach, by Brian Azzarello, JG Jones, and Lee Bermejo. Graphic novel collection.

I was not all that interested in the idea of a Watchmen prequel series, when DC announced it a few years ago. My concern was that the original series was so self-contained, and was such a good example of a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, that these prequels could only undermine that original story.

But then Alan Moore got on his high horse about the series, I became more intrigued. Moore's arguments against the series did not resonate with me, especially given his own use of previously existing characters. And then when the creative teams were announced, I decided that I would read these when the collections came out.

This hardcover contains the 10 issues written by Brian Azzarello, one of my favorite comic writers of today. I have reviewed his New 52 Wonder Woman issues here and here. The Comedian series ran six issues, and the Rorschach series had four.

The Comedian's story takes place mostly in the 1960s, and deals with his relationship with the Kennedy boys, and where exactly he was or wasn't when they were each shot dead. He makes even more of a mess of Vietnam than President Johnson's policies did, and found his status as "hero" called into question. Toward the end, we see just a bit of how the political climate of the original Watchmen world came to be. The Comedian was the character in the original story that I felt the least connection to, and this story helped me get a bit more insight into his role on the team, and his part in the bigger story.

Lee Bermejo's art in the Rorschach series helps make the book as dark and moody as it should be. Much to Alan Morre's chagrin I'm sure, Rorschach was one of the characters in the original story that I did connect to -- please don't judge me. In showing Walter Kovacs' attempt to start a real human relationship, this story did what a good prequel should do. It does not change the backstory of Walter Kovacs, but adds to it and expands on it.

I was hesitant to pick these us, and didn't expect to like these stories as much as I did. I imagine that I will track down some more of these collections at some point in the future. And review them here.

source: public library

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