Review: Before Watchmen Comedian #1

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Week three into Before Watchmen, and the high quality of story telling continues.  Brian Azzarello seems to be giving readers more of a character study of the Comedian instead of just delving into what happened before Watchmen.

Azzarello paints a great picture of America when JKF was President in this universe.  But what is more impressive is how quickly he grasps hold of the Comedian.  Eddie was always seen as a cold bastard, but Azzarello quickly cuts to the core of that.  He’s an American who loves his country.  Maybe to much.  Much like the rest of America in that time, people were hopeful and happy about what JFK could do for the country.  It’s nuanced character work that really makes the reader think about his actions and the meanings behind them.  While Minutemen and Silk Spectre were great reads, neither made me put the comic down and think about what I read.

The issue is written well, but it spends a lot of time on the friendship between JFK and Eddie.  The time jump at the beginning is unnecessary, and seems like a waste of a page.  These are small gripes in an otherwise well written issue.  Now that the set up of Eddie’s relationship with JFK out of the way, no doubt the rest of the mini-series will improve in quality.

What leaves the strongest impression on the reader is the last couple of pages.  Where we see hero and villain stop what they are doing, and grieve together.  It’s powerful stuff, considering it only lasts around three pages.  The Kennedy family is written well, especially Jackie Kennedy.  Between the final pages and the Kennedy’s dialogue, Azzarello gives the reader some pertinent background information.  While many of the readers will have read Wathcmen and have a general understanding of this society, it’s great for new readers.  The other series haven’t delved into aspects of society to the degree that they deserve.  Azzarello’s also contrasts the hope of the time with the darkness and corruption of the government.  Much like the final few pages, it’s subtle, but paints a picture of the world these characters live in to the reader.

Comedian, in my opinion, is the first series that feels necessary.  Eddie was a character that we knew well from the other characters describing him, but he could use a deeper backstory.  Comedian #1 seems to rewrite some of Eddie’s history, as he is seen being a close friend and assassin for Richard Nixon.  There are plenty of issues left, so no doubt Azzarello will touch up on this.

Fans of the movie will find the issue confusing.  In the title sequence, the Comedian kills JKF, but he is seen being best friends, and possibly more, with him here.

J.G. Jones artwork has some inconsistencies, but is mostly strong.  The Kennedy’s have some facial issues when the enter the background, with their heads taking some weird shapes.  But he nails the most important scene, the final few pages.  The final panel is drawn perfectly, with just a subtle hand on the shoulder.  It’s marvelous, considering how Moloch and Comedian went from enemies to grieving Americans with the flip of a switch.  The quick action scene flows well.  It’s surprising that Jones doesn’t try and stick to the nine panel formula that the other artists used.  It gives these series a cohesive feel, and connects them to the original.  But it’s a stylistic choice, and one that doesn’t hurt this issue.

The Crimson Corsair back up continues, and I’m loving the art.  While the story is slightly hard to follow, considering only two pages can be read at a time, the art is leaving an impression.

Before Watchmen Comedian #1 gets 4/5.

(Since I will be in Walt Disney World next Wednesday, there won’t be a review for Before Watchmen Nite Owl #1, at least by me)

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