Over the next several months we are going to be discussing one of the most controversial decisions at DC Comics in the last several years.…..the attempt to tell the story of the Watchmen in the prequels aptly titled Before Watchmen. Good or bad, here we are and we are going to cover it. (I am using the Royal “We” in this instance).
Nite Owl #4 Written by J. Michael Stracynski with Art by Andy Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz
To end off the year we got to see the long awaited ending of the Nite Owl series in the Before Watchmen Line. This is the 3rd BW series to wrap up and unlike Silk Spectre, this one leaves me with the same feelings I felt at the end of Moloch: Indifference. The books in this line fall under two categories. On one side, you have books that are branching out with the characters and allowing them to grow while still staying true to the original source material. On the other side, titles that appear to be one dimensional tales that feel equal parts slaves to the original series and uninspired messes of plot. Nite Owl has always stood firmly in the second group and this issue does nothing to change that. This issue begins where the last one left off. Rorschach is at the mercy of Reverend Taylor Dean as he has placed him atop the pile of dead hookers and thieve and plans to make a funeral pyre out of them. Nite Owl and Twilight Lady are on the way to save Rory as they’ve figured out the Reverend’s involvement with the mass disappearances. Like an old school Bond villain, Dean lays out his plan to Rorschach while also filling him in on his origin. Turns out, he’s got a habit of killing hookers and when he does, gentrification of the local neighborhoods follows. The Reverend sees himself as an instrument of God’s will and feels justified in killing them all. He leaves Rorschach on the pile of burning bodies and attempts to make his exit. Twilight Lady tries to stop him while Nite Owl rescues his partner from the dead body barbecue. A scuffle ensues and both Nite Owl and Rorschach have to make a decision to stop Reverend Taylor. Their choices are predictable as is the denouement of the tale. This book suffers a great deal in its last chapter. The villain who was revealed last issue was already pretty cliche and surface and somehow, this issue is able to make him even more shallow. The hypocrite religious zealot has been done to death and if you’re not going to put in the time to make him unique and interesting, you shouldn’t bother writing the character in the first place. Also, after the climax of the story, there’s a lot of character beats that are rushed and sloppy. JMS really didn’t present anything that complimented the characters. As usual, the artwork in this book makes up for most of the dialogue and plot confusion. In fact seeing a few of the captions on certain scenes feel redundant as Kubert and Sienkiewicz have already done a great job of presenting the story. While this is not the worst book I’ve read, it certainly doesn’t leave me with any sense of satisfaction or closure. Stracynski didn’t really connect with Nite Owl and he seemed more interested in telling a Rorschach story. All in all, not worth checking out.
It looks like it’ll be another few weeks until more Before Watchmen. Until that time, stay safe.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
Next Issue: Comedian #5 Written by Brian Azzarello with Art by J.G. Jones