Optimous Douche Gets Brainy in Review of BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS 1
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Jae Lee
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

So here we are, halfway through the event that threatened to tear comicdom asunder and give Alan Moore’s beard a hate fueled sentience that would bring the Mayan’s predictions for this year to fruition.

To date, there have been no apocalyptic beard attacks. As for comicdom, BEFORE WATCHMEN seems to have left us in two camps: Camp one consists of those who are boycotting the series under the false delusions they understand copyright law or a moral high ground of story purity. Camp two is where I’m getting my Webelo badge, this is the camp that simply wants to read a good story. And all of the stories have been good so far, with some being better than others.

Here’s where my list stands right now:

  1. SILK SPECTRE
  2. OZYMANDIAS
  3. COMEDIAN
  4. NIGHT OWL
  5. MINUTEMEN

One was an easy choice. Amanda Connor is simply writing and drawing the hell out of SILK SPECTRE; providing deep character exploration about a very troubled young women set amidst America’s Summer of Love.

COMEDIAN AND NIGHT OWL are in a neck and neck race right now in my opinion. Issue 2 will serve as the electric kool-aid test on who sneaks ahead. For now, COMEDIAN takes the lead because I felt he book had better moments.  I loved the connection COMEDIAN had to the Kennedy clan, plus the moment where he offed Marilyn Monroe was sweetly sadistic. I liked NIGHT OWL, but Dan’s discovery of Hollis Mason was simply way too Tim Drake in my opinion. Also, I only found myself getting truly interested in NITE OWL once Rorschach showed up. It will be interesting to see how Capt. Ink Blot’s book works-in NITE OWL, assuming it will be tit-for-tit. I didn’t hate MINUTEMEN, it’s finely executed, I simply don’t care about knowing every detail down to underwear size of the original CRIMEBUSTERS.

So why does OZYMANDIAS get the coveted second position? For starters, we all know OZYMANDIAS’ fate as being the big bad guy of the original WATCHMEN book. This gives Wein a lot of room for character progression and thus far the pacing is spot on. While issue one only gets us as far as OZYMANDIAS donning his Abba head gear, the journey he took from infancy to this point was perfectly epic in scope and purpose. This series has staying power because OZYMANDIAS still has so much further to go from purveyor of justice to its ultimate perversion.

Unlike most of the BEFORE WATCHMEN tales, the story of Adrian Veidt starts before his birth, where his parents flee the mother land so their child could be born on American soil. Unlike today, they don’t take this journey simply to side-step immigration laws, they want their child to be born in America so he could one day run it. They didn’t know Adrian was going to be a genius, but how many of our Presidents actually were? This is a wonderful nod to many of the hopes and aspirations immigrants had as they fled Europe before it became embroiled in WWII.

Flash forward a few years and Adrian begins to show his genius level intellect. Wein expertly gets into the minds and unfortunate cruelty of young children during these formative years. Anyone different is ostracized and when you are the smartest person on earth that ostracizing increases in direct proportion to the level of “weird.” Here is where we begin to see Adrian’s ability to be 12 steps ahead of everyone else in the world and the brutal callousness this breeds towards ones fellow man. When teased by a schoolyard bully, Adrian doesn’t go for the immediate gratification of merely hurting the boy. Instead Adrian takes his licks, hones his body with martial arts, and ultimately delivers a response that essentially cripples the bully for life. While the child inside of me cheered for the retribution I never exacted on my own bullies, the adult in me cringed as Adrian snapped the bully’s leg in half, knowing the crime did not deserve the punishment.

Wein uses the middle parts of the issue to establish Adrian’s connection to Alexander of Macedonia. This is more than a man crush, Adrian wants to one day be king and uses Alexander the Great’s rise to power as his template. During this sojourn of Alexander’s trail of conquest, Adrian continues to hone his mind and body to perfection.

Once his journey is complete he ends up back in the US ready to start amassing a financial fortune so he can change the world…until he proves that even the smartest man in the world is still just a man. Adrian meets a woman in a coffee shop who changes his world. While it doesn’t stalwart Adrian’s rise to greatness, love certainly serves as a distraction.

And it’s because of that love or loss thereof we see how Adrian turns from ambitious to world controlling megalomaniac. Sure, he’s not ready to save the world yet through population control, but we see that retribution for crimes against his love drives a wedge between whatever humanity Adrian once had.

Jae Lee does not only owns the goods on characters and locales, but also breaks panel boundaries with gleeful abandon. I love this simply because Adrian thinks beyond boundaries and we get to come along for the ride with this layout.

I’m not ready to call BEFORE WATCHMEN a resounding success; we need to get closer to the end on every title before any anointing takes place. I will say emphatically though, BEFORE WATCHMEN is not a failure. Anyone avoiding it right now is cutting their nose off to spite their face. Alan Moore does not care about your boycott and all of these issues will come out regardless of fanboy harumphs. So you can ignore some great titles for the reward of a snuggle inside a beard that will never come, or you can enjoy today’s top talent unfettered from continuity with 20th century history at their disposal.

You decide!

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3 Comments to “Optimous Douche Gets Brainy in Review of BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS”

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  1. kcviking says:

    I’m going to trust your judgement on this one douche. I’ll pick it up.

    “apocalyptic beard attacks”… I may have to borrow this phrase at some point.

  2. optimous douche says:

    I was actually partial to, “So you can ignore some great titles for the reward of a snuggle inside a beard that will never come”

  3. kcviking says:

    It’s really unfortunate that some people are going to miss this issue. Everything you mentioned in the review is spot on. Truthfully, I think you may have undersold the art.

    Have a great 4th!

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