Needless to say, there has been an awful lot of controversy about DC Comics’ decision to make a prequel series to Watchmen, universally renowned as one of the greatest comics ever made. The first two books, Minutemen #1 and Silk Spectre #1 have received quite mixed reviews so far. Everyone agrees that they have all been beautifully drawn and well written comics, from some of the best creators in the business no less, but the main complaint from readers and reviewers is the entire idea is unnecessary. Many believe it is simply DC Comics cashing in on the name and not paying the original graphic novel and its creators, the legendary Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, proper respect.
Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 weaves an interesting narrative, mixing real American history and the alternate-history of the original brilliantly. The Kennedy family, consisting of President John F Kennedy, his brother Bobby and his wife Jackie, are an excellent supporting cast to the The Comedian himself, Edward Blake. Of course, with the inclusion of the Kennedys, the book builds to the inevitable dramatic climax. Fortunately, the heartwarming and very real interactions between these characters show us a side of The Comedian, one of the darkest and most troubled men in the history of comics, that we’ve never seen before. This first issue truly adds to the overall story of Eddie Blake and is an encouraging sign that, over the course of the six installments, we will see him become the person we know from Watchmen.
Brian Azzarello‘s script is sharp from start to finish, he clearly knows the character and the tale he wants to tell. A particular highlight is the inclusion of two verses from The Wanderer by Dion DiMucci, perfectly complimenting the events being told in the dialogue and artwork.
For the most part, JG Jones‘ artwork is solid and helps convey the tone of the already well-established world. However, the lone action scene is muddled and difficult to follow. These panels are very clustered and there are more sound effects crammed in to two pages than I’ve ever seen, with each individual noise getting its own personal font.
Overall, Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 is a solid comic. It’s predictable and very ‘by the books’ in a lot of ways but it also sheds new light on an intriguing character, making it a great book for fans of Eddie Blake or the original work he was created in to pick up.