I come to this graphic novel; having already read one of the four collections; having read the original Watchmen comics (but not since they came out in the mid-to-late 1980’s; and having not spent much time with graphic novels since, until I started reviewing. And so I review and rate this based on it being a stand-alone collection.
And I kind of liked it.
I was not particularly familiar with the character of Ozymandias. I couldn’t have told you who any of the characters were in the original Watchmen series, but I accept that Ozymandias was one of those characters.
Writer Len Wein does a great job giving us the back story on the character — his search for knowledge, his use of said knowledge, and how he uses knowledge to make him a better fighter. Certainly the similarities to one of DC’s main staples, Batman, are painfully obvious. Perhaps a little too much so, down to the loss of parents. He’s more than a bit precocious, a downright jerk at times, and it’s easy to see how he might slip a little too far over the edge.
If the story was enthralling (I thought so), and kept me wanting to turn the page, then the art was down-right masterful. Jae Lee’s work on the Ozymandias story was beautiful. The panel lay-outs were unique to the story, had a sense of art-deco, which is perfectly suited for the story, and really helped move the action forward.
Clearly, I was completely taken in by this piece.
The Crimson Corsair, is another story (literally and figuratively). While the story takes place ‘before’ Watchmen, it had nothing to do with the Watchmen story except peripherally … there is something about a pirate story in Watchmen, if I recall.
The individual stories are short, just a few pages long each, and the over-all story arc is, well, predictable. I felt, all along, as if I were reading a Pirates of the Caribbean comic. It really didn’t do a whole lot for me one way or the other. It was a not-unpleasant way to pass some time. The art was fine, the story was fine. Nothing worth remembering.
A ‘bonus’ story is the short piece on “Dollar Bill” — the infamous character who dies by way of a cape accident (I hope I didn’t just give it away for anyone!). It was short, actually a rather fun read, and the artwork was fine. I wouldn’t buy a one-shot comic of this, but enjoyed it as an additional piece to the graphic novel.
I felt that this was worth it for the lengthy Ozymandias story. The Crimson Corsair and Dollar Bill stories were not necessary for filling in extra pages, but they didn’t detract too much. Still.. I would have liked more direct Watchmen connection than the Crimson Corsair provided.
Looking for a good book? This is a story worth following and great art.
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Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair
author: Len Wein (Ozymandias story)
artist: Jae Lee (Ozymandias story)
publisher: DC Comics
hardcover, 256 pages