After the crap-fest that was Before Watchmen Comedian #2, I needed a win with Before Watchmen. While Nite Owl #2 isn’t the win I was hoping for, it’s a step in the right direction for the series. But, it’s far from the level that Minutemen has set.
Let us start with the problems. J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) can’t seem to focus on Nite Owl or Rorschach. Their friendship is an interesting one, but it just takes up space here. The little alone time that Rorschach gets just goes over things we know about the character already. I have stated this in past reviews of this event that going over story beats that were established in Watchmen is a big no-no. JMS is a great writer, when he focuses on the story at hand. Where #1 was a rehash, #2 finally delves into some new material. And this is where the book gets interesting. JMS strikes an even tone between the past and present, juxtaposing Daniel’s home life with his super hero life. It’s a little on the nose, but still works. While #1 made quick work of how the original Nite Owl inspired Dan, #2 uses it really well. It gives Dan’s obsession with Nite Owl real weight, and makes the reader finally feel for his obsession.
Nite Owl #2 feels like a lost story though. A lost story that stars a popular character, but doesn’t need to be read to fully understand the character. These kinds of stories are fine for some people, as just seeing the character in action again leaves them satisfied. But I’m not one of those people. Use the opportunity presented to you JMS. Dan has always been somewhat wimpy when it comes to woman, so seeing him attracted to a strong woman isn’t surprising. But it still feels as if this story doesn’t need to happen. WHY is Dan meeting the Twilight Lady so important to him as a character? The reader is never given an answer to that question. And that’s the most important question for each of these Before Watchmen series. There are still two issues left in this series, so JMS still has time to bring this series around. He needs to stop wasting space with the friendship and focus more on Dan as a person. If he can do that, this series can be saved.
The Kuberts, Andy and Joe, continue to have some problems on art. Andy’s pencils suit the book very well, but Joe’s scratchy inks don’t suit the pencils. Andy pencils the action scenes well, flowing like a storyboard. Rorschach is clearly dead inside. While the Rorschach scenes may seem useless story wise, Andy’s pencils make them worthwhile. The rain scenes in particular look fantastic. Joe’s inking style is more old school than Andy’s pencils, so the two clash. It would have been a better idea to find someone who complimented Andy’s pencil style. This is more apparent on the close-ups of peoples faces. The scribble inking just distracts from the scene. Brad Anderson’s colors pick up some slack though. When rain is falling, the colors are the perfect hue to make them look organic. The colors make the book look like the movie version of Watchmen.
Nite Owl is far from a failure, but it still needs to figure out it’s purpose soon.
Before Watchmen Nite Owl #2 gets 3/5.