Every week, Chad Nevett and I will be reviewing an issue of Before Watchmen through a discussion of each issue. We continue with Ozymandias #2 by Len Wein (writer), Jae Lee (art) and June Chung (colors).
Chad Nevett: Am I the only one disappointed that, at no point, do we see the cover image played out in this comic? Sorry, I'm sitting here, starting this e-mail and the comic is next to my laptop and, for the first time, it occurred to me that, yeah, this cover has nothing to do with what's inside. And that's a shame, because it's a striking, weird, fucked up sort of cover.
Despite this comic not featuring a scantily-clad woman in a gas mask, it's rather good, isn't it? Mostly for Jae Lee's art, which, somehow, shows new depth and ability in this issue. But, even Len Wein's writing isn't quite as blatant as it was in the first issue. There are some cringe-worthy moments, but the whole thing is a lot smoother in execution. There's almost a sense of how silly this comic is within it and a willingness to make the odd joke at its own expense, like Adrien not wanting to tell his superhero name, because even he knows it's a bit goofy and people will wonder what the hell he's thinking.
What did you think, Brian?
Brian Cronin: The main thing that occurred to me while reading the comic was "Oh my god, Jae Lee. Jae Lee, oh my god. Jae Lee. Oh my god. Seriously, Jae Lee, oh my god. Jae Lee. No, seriously, Jae Lee. Oh my god." Lee destroyed this comic book. He was amazing. The two-page fight sequences was mind-blowing. What a brilliantly drawn comic book. Although the face he drew on the surprise guest at the last page was a bit off. Otherwise, everything was just note perfect. What a great job by Lee.
I agree that Wein's story was better than the first, which was not a bad story to start with, so this issue was fun. I do agree that Wein had a lot of fun with sort of mocking the early days of Ozymandias' success (I loved the Ancient Mariner). There WERE a few clunkers here and there (I was not a big fan of the initial drug dealer scene. The dialogue seemed off) but for the most part Wein did a fine job.
I really liked the idea of Ozymandias trying to track Hooded Justice down. That was a nice way to frame Ozymandias' (short-lived) fascination with the Minutemen in Watchmen, as a search for what drove the team apart. I wonder if Wein and Darwyn Cooke planned out a cohesive answer to the end of the Minutemen together (I imagine that they would - Wein is great at working with the plans of other writers. I imagine it is what made him such a great editor).
I, too, loved the cover and would have enjoyed seeing that scene in the comic itself. We DID at least get ladies in sort of gas masks.
CN: The drug dealers were so cliched. As was how quickly Ozymandias seemed to move. Somehow, his superhuman power seems to be the ability to make cars drive faster than possible. That or exaggerrating how far he is from a place at any given time.
I think all of the books are revolving in some way around the end of the Minutemen. Last week we talked about the 'dark secret' that Hollis mentioned to Dan and has also popped up in the Minutemen mini-series. That's one area that the writers on this project can really explore given how wide open Moore left it. What happened to Hooded Justice is a mystery from the original and part of me hopes that it's never solved in these books. Let Adrien try to solve it and it be the one thing he couldn't figure out.
BC: Well, if you're really going to make the mystery of Hooded Justice the centerpiece of all of the books, I suppose you ought to solve it.
I liked the nod in the story to how Ozymandias got started in crime-fighting was basically just buying people off. That should be a Batman arc. Batman just handing out cash to people until they send him in the right direction. I thought it was nicely off kilter.
The back-up story improved, as we finally got past the Crimson Corsair's lair. Here's what I don't get, though. The people are speaking French, right? With sub-titles, right? So why were they using French words in the translated text? "Stop them, mon amis!" What the heck?
CN: Maybe the epilogue one-shot will solve the mystery. They'll all build to that one single point where it's revealed what happened and how Hooded Justice actually, somehow, orchestrated everything so that all of those people would become costumed vigilantes, building to Adrien saving the world. World's smartest man wears a hood, baby!
Hey, I've always thought that Bruce Wayne was more powerful an identity than Batman. CEO of a large multinational corporation? Clearly able to do more good than a dude in a costume obsessing over the Worst City in America. Ozymandias as critique of Batman is a pretty good take on the character.
I'm not even going to bother with the writing on the pirate story, because John Higgins is taking over full time soon. He will be the one man band and, hopefully, things will get better. Though, the whole 'original language coming through in translation' thing is something that always bothered me about Star Trek, where they seem to have a universal translator that translates most of the time except when it's time to swear in Klingon or something.
Is it just me or does the Comedian look like he was drawn by Kyle Baker on that final page? It looks wrong, you're right, but I would kind of love it if Jae Lee decided that Baker is the best artist to look to for inspiration on drawing the Comedian. It would certainly be fitting.
BC: While it might be a BIT too on point, I guess I wouldn't mind it if that is, indeed, what they end up doing with Hooded Justice and Ozymandias. At least the whole group of stories would sort of be headed in a certain direction, which would make me feel a bit better about reading Nite Owl.
The power of Bruce Wayne was a nice idea Morrison explored early on in Batman Incorporated .And yeah, Ozymandias worked well as a satire of 60's style heroes period.
As to Comedian's face, I imagine that Lee did, in fact, have SOMEthing in mind with drawing Comedian the way he did. It might very well be something like your Baker idea. Likely not Baker specifically, but that style. Lee is an inventive enough artist that I could totally see him trying something like that.
CN: I kind of wish someone like JH Williams could have done art on one of these books and done that thing he did in the "Black Mask" arc of Batman where every character is drawn in a different style as a shorthand for what type of character they are, what their history is, etc. Or even just what the artist think they're like. That's sort of what I see in that drawing of the Comedian. Jae Lee showing us not just what the Comedian looks like, but what he is like.
BC: I think every comic should have JH Williams drawing different characters in different styles.
Wow, a mostly positive week. I wonder if that will continue over the next two weeks as the final two Before Watchmen mini-series have their first issues released, beginning with Rorschach and, then, Dr. Manhattan. Are you excited? Because I'm excited.
BC: I am excited, as well. However, some of that is worried anticpation of Doctor Manhattan. Come on, JMS, we know you can wrte good books, come through on Manhattan!