Every Before Watchmen series has been good thus far. Some better than others, but none have been out right terrible. Comedian #2 flirts with the line of terrible. It’s hard to figure out what went wrong here.
Brian Azzarello is a master of juggling plots. Look at Wonder Woman for that. But here, the plots are a mish-mash of things. Comedian #2 is trying to show the reader the horrors of Vietnam and it’s effects on the people fighting the war. But anyone reading this already knows that Vietnam was a terrible decision. We didn’t need to be sold on that. Now, if Azzarello was going to show us some blatant differences between out Vietnam War and this one, that would be different. Comedian #2 is an amalgamation of ideas. If Azzarello developed any of these ideas, we’d have a half great issue. But he first has to get Eddie to Vietnam, which spends more time establishing what year we are in instead of going along. We KNOW what year Eddie is in. And Bobby Kennedy isn’t as interesting when talking Eddie. The dialogue from the Army guys are supposed to resonate with readers, and make us feel sorry for them. But the dialogue is clichéd, so they come off as eventual cannon fodder.
The universe that Watchmen inhabits is one of the more interesting ones in the history of comic books. But throwing the character by the wayside while viewing the universe doesn’t work. They are the reader’s gateway into this universe. Eddie just walks through this issue, with barely anything affecting him. He likes to kill, that’s all Azzarello gives the reader. While yes, we know a great deal bout Eddie from Watchmen, but Before Watchmen was supposed to be this grand opportunity to explore these characters. As someone who has read every issue so far, this was my biggest worry. A writer would write a filler issue and not grasp the potential that every issue brought. Series like Minutemen have found that potential and using it to the fullest. Comedian has four issues left in the mini-series, so I’m hoping that Azzarello will use the remaining issues wisely.
While the story is bad, J.G. Jones artwork shines. The facial problems from #1 are gone, with Bobby Kennedy seeming genuine. Much like the dialogue, the Army guys blend into the background, but that may be on purpose. Jones nails the atmosphere of Vietnam. Much more than script. It’s a gritty dark war, and so is this issue. Jones continues to be the only person to not stick to the nine panel structure. In fact, he’s the only person to not follow any distance pattern. It sets itself apart from the rest of the books, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. One of the things that gives each books its own feeling is the panel structure. It immediately gives the reader a feeling of what is about to come. But Comedian just feels like another comic book. Overall, his artwork has improved. While not worth the cover price, Jones’ pencils at least soften the blow.
Before Watchmen Comedian #2 gets 2/5.