Before Watchmen: Rorschach Issue #2 kicked off the month with a literal bang as the title vigilante continues his one man war against the felonious scum of New York City. His unmercifully violent handiwork has garnered the attention of crime lord Rawhead, who continues his mission to put an end to the masked avenger. The question is, “How much damage can one crime fighter take to his body before it shuts down?”
Writer Brian Azzarello continues to give readers insight into the twisted and tragic life of the one man army known as Rorschach. Artist Lee Bermejo captures the brutality of Azzarello’s story through graphic visual representations which cover almost every single page with splashes of blood. We definitely bear witness in words and pictures to a dedicated protector of justice who has no regard for his own safety or well-being.
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Issue #2 has the big blue fellow witnessing alternate routes his life could have taken. Do any of these different paths lead to a better and more fulfilling life or was Dr. Jon Osterman doomed no matter what course he stumbled down? How do his choices affect the rest of the world and the cosmos?
J. Michael Straczynski continues to grab my attention by answering questions enthusiasts of Watchmen didn’t even know they had and exploring avenues fans could only have imagined in their minds up until now. Adam Hughes’s illustrations bring Straczynski’s words to life in interesting detail without getting too complex. His likenesses of Ronald Reagan and Walter Cronkite are spot-on and a lot of fun.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen Issue #4 does a great job of giving a few of the members of the team their due. Hollis Mason / Nite Owl, Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre, and Byron Nelson / Mothman are all dealing with the death of their crime fighting partner, Ursula Zandt / The Silhuoette, in their own way. Hollis wants to continue her work fighting child sex traffickers. Sally takes bloody revenge on the Liquidator, who is the man directly responsible for Ursula’s murder. Byron drowns his grief in alcohol, leaving Hollis to do some sleuthing alone. We also get heart wrenching back stories for Eddie Blake / the Comedian and Ursula.
Writer and artist Darwyn Cooke packs tons of excitement and story into 24 pages like no other creative force can. His art still reflects the Golden Age comics which were being released at the very same time these heroes supposedly existed. His penciling gives the complex narrative the classic ambience it deserves.
Issue #2 of Rorschach brings the conclusion of “The Evil That Men Do” portions of “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” tale. Chapter Eight still has McClachlan searching for the tokens to save his eternal soul. Dr. Manhattan Issue #2 and Minutemen Issue #4 lead us into “Wide Were His Dragon Wings.” McCLachlan is captured by deadly natives who seek vengeance on slave traders that took members of their tribe. John Higgins continues to do a great job scripting and illustrating these two-page stories.
All three of the Before Watchmen issues for December continue to take the reader further into the unexplored worlds of these complex characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to do so. Each of the talented writers and artists working on these prequels have accomplished what Alan Moore thought couldn’t be done. They’ve expanded on their lives and fleshed them out to make them more real and easier to identify with.