BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL/ DR. MANHATTAN (DC, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Before Watchmen: Nite Owl Nos. 1-4, Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Nos. 1-4, and Before Watchmen: Moloch Nos. 1, 2 (cover dates August, 2012- April, 2013)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl- Penciler: Andy Kubert; Inkers: Joe Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz. Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan- Adam Hughes. Before Watchmen: Moloch- Eduardo Risso.
Colorists: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl- Brad Anderson; Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan- Laura Martin; Before Watchmen: Moloch- Trish Mulvihill
The Before Watchmen: Nite Owl mini-series is great. J. Michael Straczynski, or JMS as he will be referred to from here on out, is a great writer. This series goes way in depth on the origin and motives of Nite Owl, and Joe Kubert's inks help give it that rough, semi-unpolished DC Silver Age feel at times. The dynamic of the partnership between Rorshach and Nite Owl is covered in great detail.
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan shows JMS being every bit as clever as Alan Moore. What? Did I just say that? Yes I did. Seeing JMS juggle the various probabilities and realities that a God like Dr. Manhattan would certainly deal with was no easy task, and it is handled here as cleverly as Moore would have handled it. I know that the Moore faithful are popping blood vessels over that statement but I call them as I see (and read) them. The artwork and coloring are as top notch as the writing in this one.
Before Watchmen: Moloch, while great storywise, leaves a lot to be desired in the artwork department. The vastly overrated Eduardo Risso handles the art chores. While his panel composition and layouts and ability to convey the story are excellent, I found his art itself to be too cartoony for my tastes. Your mileage may vary.
So after finally finishing all four Deluxe Edition Hardcovers, I can now give you my opinion on the project as a whole. While I enjoyed these prequels for the most part, many of them were more of a connect the dots affair rather than original stories. I wanted to see more of the spaces between what happened here covered. Like I've said in my other Before Watchmen reviews, there is plenty of fertile territory for more prequels. Whether or not that is necessary is completely up to you, the reader. At the end of the day, this didn't “ruin” Watchmen as everyone fearlessly predicted, nor did these mini-series burn up the sales charts as I fearlessly predicted. Everyone was wrong! They're out there and will probably sink like a stone and be forgotten in the long run...which is what Alan Moore predicted, so I guess he was right.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Aside from the slightly warped paper (see below), these DC Deluxe Edition hardcovers are really nice. The image is printed on the hardback itself, with no dustjacket included.
DVD-style Extras included in this book:
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl No. 1 Jim Lee with Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair variant cover
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl No. 1 Kevin Nowlan variant cover
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl No. 2 David Finch with Sonia Oback variant cover
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl No. 3 Chris Samnee with Matt Wilson variant cover
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl No. 4 Ethan Van Sciver with Hi-Fi Colour Design variant cover
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 1 Jim Lee with Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair variant cover
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 1 Paul Pope with Lovern Kindzierski variant cover
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 2 P. Craig Russell variant cover
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 3 Neal Adams variant cover
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 4 Bill Sienkiewicz variant cover
Before Watchmen: Moloch No. 1 Matt Wagner with Brennan Wagner variant cover
Before Watchmen: Moloch No. 1 Jim Lee with Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair variant cover
Before Watchmen: Moloch No. 2 Olly Moss variant cover
Nite Owl character study by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert with Brad Anderson (1 page)
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl Nos. 1, 2, and 4 cover sketches by Andy Kubert (4 thumbnails, 1 page)
Cover progression for Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 4 by Adam Hughes (2 pages)
Various sketches and pen test for Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan by Adam Hughes (1 page)
Cover sketches for Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 1 with layout and final for Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan No. 1, Page 2 by Adam Hughes (1 page)
Paper rating: 4.25 out of 5. This book is made in the United States, which is a huge part of the problem. I'd love to see everything made in the USA once again if the products are as good as what we get from the Chinese sweatshop printing presses. US paper mills use trees which are not allowed to cure properly once cut, which means that the trees are green when they are made into paper. The result is shitty, somewhat wavy warped paper like the stuff found in this book. My books are all stored in a climate controlled environment, and yet this one has warped paper, especially when you view the top of the book. Books made in China from virgin Amazon rainforest trees do not have this problem.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding in hardcovers this thin is not a deal breaker. The book lays reasonably flat.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. This has a super thick waxlike coating which is impervious to damage when handled as the product is intended. The black Before Watchmen band, spine, and section of equal measure on the rear cover have a different, dull texture which is really nice.