Published: August 15th, 2012 – March 6th, 2013
Written by: Brian Azzarello, Len Wein
Art by: Lee Bermejo, John Higgins, Barbara Ciardo
Based on: Watchmen by Alan Moore
DC Comics, 111 Pages
I needed about twenty minutes to collect myself after reading this four issue story arc by Brian Azzarello and Len Wein. This shit took my breath away, which comic books don’t do very often.
This was the second story arc I read in the Before Watchmen series, having just read the one about the Comedian before this. As great as I thought that one was, this one just grabbed me and didn’t let go until well after I closed the cover.
The story here is very personal and very intense. It helps to humanize Rorschach, a guy that comes off as kind of one-dimensional in how he exists within the original Watchmen story. That’s not a knock against Alan Moore’s work but Rorschach was really just a force of nature in the most famous piece of work that featured him and here, we are able to understand him with much more depth and emotion.
Reading Watchmen, we already know about his childhood but here, we see things that happened to him as an adult that helped to shape him even further.
This is dark and gritty but not in some sort of ’90s edge lord way that is trying too hard to be like the work of Alan Moore or Frank Miller. This is dark and gritty in a way that builds off of Moore’s work in an interesting and meaningful way. It improves upon this character in a fantastic way and if I’m being brutally honest, it made me have to shut up regarding whatever criticism I once had for other people touching Moore’s work.
Azzarello and Wein proved my initial assessment wrong and wrote something compelling that enhances the rich world that I once wanted to remain untouched.
Additionally, the art style employed here is perfect.
This is a great comic book and even though it isn’t the masterpiece that Watchmen is, it deserves to stand right next to it. And I don’t say any of this lightly.
Pairs well with: other Before Watchmen stories, as well as Watchmen and Doomsday Clock.