Review: Before Watchmen Dollar Bill #1
Len Wein, who has been writing the boring Ozymandias, chronicles the life and times of Dollar Bill. Infamously known for getting caught in a revolving door then shot, this issue reminds a reader of that a lot. It’s a joke and didn’t amount to much. Most of the issue covers things that have been covered in the original Watchmen or Minutemen. The issue starts off with new information, talking about how William Bradley became Dollar Bill. While Bradley isn’t that likable, considering he’s lead a great life, it shows how conceded and selfish the heroes are in this world. The rampant stereotypes also paint a picture of filth covered by glamour and glitz. But then Wein gets into how Dollar Bill became part of the Minutemen and their history. This is where the issue becomes a waste of space. If Wein were going over old story beats, but giving us new information about what is happening, then we haven’t had our time wasted. But instead, Wein just copy and pastes story beats form Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen series. There are a few pages where Wein could have delved into Bradley’s life before his death, where he seems to be borderline depressed. But instead, Wein jumps to Bradley’s death, and that’s it for the issue.
Dollar Bill highlights the main problem with the Before Watchmen event. It seems that most of the writers are too scared to take chances with these characters. There is a reason that I stopped reviewing the titles months ago, as most don’t seem to care about the event anymore. Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, and JMS (Dr. Manhattan) have done some great things with their respective titles. But most seem to ever so slightly build on what Alan Moore established in Watchmen. I saw these titles as a great opportunity to expand on an interesting universe. Instead we got average story telling. It’s makes me sad as a fan of the comic book medium, so such talented writers squander such an opportunity.
Much like the rest of this event, the art on Dollar Bill is the one redeeming factor. Steve Rude gives the book a classic feel. Dollar Bill has the look and feel of the original Watchmen. This is helped by Rude’s amazing lettering. In the vein of Chris Samnee, Rude’s pencils are amazingly simple, but are filled with a great deal of emotion. He doesn’t follow the nine panel structure that most of the artists have been following, but the issue still works. The white framing around each page is a nice touch, adding to the retro feel. Dollar Bill might not be one of the best written issue, but Rude’s art makes the $3.99 price tag a little easier to absorb.
Before Watchmen Dollar Bill #1 gets 3/5.