Saturday, April 27, 2013

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan by J. Michael Straczynski - Book Review

From the publisher: Discover what happened before WATCHMEN as writer J. Michael Straczynski is joined by Andy Kubert and the legendary Joe Kubert to take flight with the gadget-savvy vigilante known as Nite Owl! And then in BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN, JMS teams with fan-favorite artist Adam Hughes on the all-powerful super-man Dr. Manhattan. For Dr. Manhattan, past, present, and future are one and the same. But as he observes the events of his life, do they remain the same? Or are they changed? The very fact of his existence may have altered the nature of what will or will not be...

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is considered one of the most important comic books of all time, as well a piece of literature.  When DC Comics decided to create a series of prequels, the announcement was met with a very mixed response: some were excited to revisit the world and characters, while others, including Moore, were wholeheartedly against it.

This collection contains the Nite Owl and Dr. Manhattan stories written by J. Michael Straczynski.

The Nite Owl story was the origin of the second Nite Owl.  His relationship to the original Nite Owl, his motivations for becoming Nite Owl, and his membership in the Crimebusters are all presented.  There is quite a bit dedicated to Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II) and Hollis Mason (Original Nite Owl) as the torch is passed and Dreiberg is trained.  There is a very cool dynamic there.  Additionally, the team-up relationship between Dreiberg and Rorschach is explored.  It is these two relationships, as well as Nite Owl's romantic interest in Silk Spectre, that drive the story. They really add to Nite Owl’s character development and provide a nice lead-in to the original Watchmen series. 

The Dr. Manhattan story was very interesting.  It included the origin of Dr. Manhattan, his introduction to the Silk Spectre, and the ramifications of physics, time, and the consequences of making choices.  It seemed very philosophical and dealt with the ramifications of Dr. Manhattan’s powers.  It also showed some background into how Ozymandias manipulated Dr. Manhattan in order to execute his plan in Watchmen, serving as a nice side story to the opening chapters of the original story.

I really enjoyed these this book, and the approach that Straczynski took to the characters.  They were very true to the spirit and character of Watchmen.  I would highly recommend this to any fans of the original.

I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley and DC Comics in exchange for honest review.

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