Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 of 4

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Andy Kubert & Joe Kubert
Company: DC Comics

Well, disappointment was bound to happen at some point, right? In all fairness, Nite Owl isn't a bad book. It is in fact a decent book. The problem with it is that it doesn't shine in the way that the previous titles for this prequel event have, therefore it feels slightly lackluster and not as satisfying. JMS, known for about a billion things in comics and television, has a record skipping track record in my opinion. There have been great things such as his runs on Thor and Rising Stars, but there have been countless other series that have fallen apart as well. Here he gives us the life and evolution of Dan Dreiberg from teen to man to hero.

The term "cookie cutter" seems to be the best term that I can come up with that describes this as a whole. Nothing out of the ordinary happens and the way that Dan becomes the hero that he idolizes is a bit by the numbers. Not that I think it should have been or anything, it just wasn't exciting nor as engrossing as the unique voices that have been found for Silk Spectre or The Comedian. The other thing that comes up with some regularity are the heavy handed moments and slightly schlock-y bits of dialogue. This mostly encompasses the stuff that deals with Dan's life when he's living at home.

Now, those are the things that I didn't care for, and from that little list it could one could construe that I hated the whole thing. This is completely untrue. There are some great moments to enjoy and JMS does bring a lot to the table. The biggest is the relationship that is introduced and built up between Rorschach and Dan. It may even be the most controversial things, as the way Rorschach is portrayed is not the guy that most everyone knows. The portrayal does keep with Watchmen continuity though, but the dialogue between the characters is really good as it finds an edge that lies between humor and honesty that hits home. Other than that, the evolution of a hero story is solid. Hollis Mason gets to bash some heads and that we see Dan's aptitude and ability to create technology in the depth that we do fleshes him out even more.

The biggest and best quality that Before Watchmen: Nite Owl brings to the game is the artwork from father and son team Andy & Joe Kubert. The art is simply beautiful. It has an easiness to it, both in appearance and movement, but the way that Andy and Joe bring the world to life and the amount of detail...Well, it's pretty damn immersive. I love the looseness of the lines and Joe Kubert's ability to add such depth and dimension with his exquisite inks. Every page has a gem on it, but there's sequence that leads to a splash that occurs a few pages in where we see the original Nite Owl's hideout that is phenomenal. The emotion is captured so well. Also, the splash is a simple image, like seeing the Batcave, but the angle of shot and the detail bring it to that next level. Being able to see the work bench, Owl Car, gas pump and weapons array; it all adds to the feel that JMS and the Kuberts are building.

So yes, while Before Watchmen: Nite Owl is rocky at times, but it's a good stepping stone that I hope leads to some stories that are a bit more unexpected. I for one can't wait too see more of the Rorschach and Dan stuff, as JMS really found a great voice for them.

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