Before Watchmen Ozymandias #1 Review

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Another week, another Before Watchmen comic. After the major disappointment that was Nite Owl #1, Ozymandias #1 brings back the high quality that we have come to expect with this event.  It’s also the first Before Watchmen issue that delivers more character centric moments than expanding on the world of Watchmen.

Len Wein, the original editor for Watchmen, gives readers a character study of Adrian Veidt.  Much like in Watchmen, Veidt is still this almost god like character who can do no wrong.  Wein contrasts Veidt and his hero, Alexander the Great, perfectly.  His adventure, combined with his troubled past, deeper Veidt’s love of Alexander.  While reading Watchmen, it was understandable why Veidt would love Alexander, but the hero worship could have used more explanation.  This is a strength for Ozymandias, as the reader feels like they are getting to know an old character all over again.  And there is nothing better as a comic fan to read something that shows shines a new light on a classic character, making them feel fresh and new again.  With the previous four issues of Before Watchmen issues, it felt like the creators were expanding on things we already knew.  Not a bad thing, but Ozymandias truly feels like we are exploring brand new territory (even though it does expand on things we know).

Ozymandias #1 isn’t perfect though. The “reason” for Veidt to become a vigilante is a little out of left field, and for a graphic novel that revolutionized the industry, is somewhat cliched.  Miranda comes out of nowhere, and is gone in the same amount of time, which makes her feel like a plot device.  It doesn’t break the issue, or make it a bad issue, but it’s worth noting.

The point I noticed while reading is that Ozymandias #1 is the first Before Watchmen book that could be read perfectly on it’s own.  No prior knowledge of the universe is needed to understand what is going on.  While it certainly helps the reader, and makes this “autobiography” more tragic, it’s easy to pick this up and just read it.  Every comic fan should read Watchmen, as it’s a right of passage for every comic reader.  But if you are new to the medium, and are slightly intimidated by Watchmen and it’s universe, Ozymandias #1 is a good introductory course.  While it’s great to see writers expanding on this rich universe, Ozymandias goes off the beaten path and focuses more on characters.  If you have read every issue so far, it’s a good change of pace.

I have only seen Jae Lee pencil covers, most recently Wolverine at Marvel, so I was excited to read this issue for that alone.  And boy do Lee’s atmospheric pencils deliver.  He doesn’t stick to the nine panel style that has been synonymous with Watchmen, but sticks to a style all his own.  Nearly every page has a circle layout somewhere, which keeps the readers glued to the page.  And while a lesser artist would have had trouble guiding the reader from panel to panel, Lee has every page flow smoothly.  The panels look great, but the flow from panel to panel is somewhat strange.  The panels make big leaps in events, leaving the reader wondering how got to this point, when we saw them standing in a complete other way just the panel before.  Considering this is an autobiography, this is probably due to Veidt leaving out the small details.  A lot of the backgrounds are blank as well, giving an odd perspective to the events transpiring.  Veidt’s narration keeps the reader afloat as to where Veidt is and what’s going on, so the reader won’t be that confused.  On the splash pages, the dialogue boxes can be slightly hard to follow, as the reader is given no indication where to read next.  This happens a couple of times, but it’s easy to figure out fast where the text boxes are leading.

With Minutemen #2 (released 7/11), six parts of Crimson Corsair will have been released.  I’ll have a preliminary review out with that review.  For now, the two pages continue to look great, even if the story is hard to follow.  Part of me is wondering if releasing two pages an issues was the best format for the release.  It forces people to buy every issue to understand what’s going on, which is one of the mortal sins that a comic publisher can commit.  Having Crimson Corsair be it’s own mini-series might have been a better option.

While I was in Walt Disney World last week, I couldn’t get around to writing a review for Nite Owl #1.  But as you can tell from the first paragraph, it wasn’t a good issue.  Before Watchmen Nite Owl #1 gets 2/5.

Before Watchmen Ozymandias #1 gets 4/5.

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