You ever read a comic and think, “This should be brilliant. I should be loving every line of dialogue. But instead, I’m hating the hell out of this.” That’s Before Watchmen Ozymandias. Especially for issue #4.
Len Wein is a great writer. Looking at his history for creating characters, it’s clear that Wein can write an amazing comic with his eyes blindfolded. But this issue is flat out boring. There is nothing here to hold a reader’s attention. Veidt recounts his time as he encounters these new superheroes, and what he thinks about them. The analysis of each don’t add anything to the specific superhero or Veidt, so it’s hard to understand why this issue focused on them. The other half of this issue involves Veidt encountering different celebrities of the 60s, and then researching them until he knows everything about them. Again, it would have been interesting if this had added to the history of Ozymandias, but it’s just filler. The idea that Veidt created a perfume to remind him of his love from #1 is a good idea, but it’s dropped wayside as soon as it’s brought up.
I have thought of two ideas as to why this series has failed to be entertaining. The first, is that DC didn’t have a concise idea for an Ozymandias series. The second, is that the character just isn’t interesting enough to support his own series. Considering how Alan Moore wrote Veidt back in Watchmen, I think it’s more of the first. Before Watchmen Ozymandias has some great ideas, but none of them are executed well. With the recent problems DC editorial has been having, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone had a great idea but couldn’t figure out how to fit them all into one series. For now, I’m going to take the blame off of Len Wein, and place firmly on DC editorial. While other Before Watchmen series have had problems, they have justified why they exist early on. Ozymandias has done that four issues in. And part of me thinks that the last two issues aren’t going to do that either.
Jae Lee’s artwork continues to be the single selling point about this series. He captures the likenesses of celebrities with ease. JFK looks his best when penciled by Lee. The panel layout is used very well, giving the book a distinct look against the rest of the Before Watchmen series. The lack of backgrounds has been a staple of Lee’s work, but is a nuisance this issue. After the third read of #4, I’ve come to conclude that the lack of backgrounds is due to Vedit remembering the events, and just missing details. It improved the reading for me. The big pages of TV screens invokes a memory of the Watchmen movie. The few action scenes look really good, with Rorschach’s fairing the best. His kick to a thug has the weight that Rorschach can put behind his kicks/punches. June Chung’s colors look good, but she isn’t given much to do besides do full backgrounds.
Just stay away from this series. It could have been a lot better, but instead we got a generic series that doesn’t add anything to the Watchmen universe.
Before Watchmen Ozymandias #4 gets 2/5.
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