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Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 --Comic Book Review
"What? A new review from GameBoy?!" you shout as you do a spit take with whatever beverage you were sipping at the time.
Yes folks after a long hiatus from writing articles and reviews, I'm back and re-debuting with a comic book review! This review being one of many issues in a rather controversial DC project.
Watchmen is generally considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, many times dubbed as the "comic's coming of age." It was the first superhero story for adults only. It is a much more realistic take on the superhero genre, as none of its costumed adventurers sans one Dr. Manhattan have any super powers. What makes it such a marvel on the comic world is that it contains amazing symbolism and metaphors in both the story and the artwork, psychologically complex characters, as well as ultimately questioning, "where does one draw the line between 'hero' and 'villain', because every one of the main characters is a shade of grey, as opposed to having clear cut villains like in other traditional superhero comics. Some even argue that the villain had debatably better motives than the heroes as the morally ambigous ending is still heavily debated to this very day.
Fast forward nearly three decades and one live action movie later. DC decides to effectively continue the Watchmen with a limited series of prequel stories for all the main characters, albeit against the wishes of Alan Moore, one of the original's creators. The reception of this idea was luke-warm at best. Some fans side with Moore and really, really wish that DC would not have touched the Watchmen, feeling that having a spin-off series would lessen the impact of the original. Others, though I would say the minority, are open to the idea.
Knowing that they might have just possibly opened Pandora's Box, it seems DC knows just how much pressure they are under to make sure fans are pleased with the project. With Alan Moore not on board, they have brought in some of the industry's top names for the job. Nite Owl features the combined talents of J. Michael Straczynski, Andy Kubert, and Joe Kubert.
The art style and panel placement reminds me very much of the more traditional style utilized by comics from the original Watchmen era. Despite the more traditional style of paneling in Nite Owl, the coloring and textures are very much contemporary. It looks nice, and very much reminds me very much of the original while still looking up to date at the same time.
Story wise, Nite Owl # 1 details young Dan Dreiberg's transformation into Nite Owl II through the early 1960's. After idolizing the original crime figher Nite Owl during the Minutemen days, Dreiberg one day manages to stumble upon the Owl Cave while following his hero to his lair. Soon after, he meets Nite Owl aka Hollis Mason. At first, Owl is reluctant take Dreiberg under his wing. He changes his mind after the death of Dreiberg's father, and so the two form a relationship strongly reminiscent of that shared by Batman and Robin. The issue also shows the formation of Nite Owl II's partnership with fellow costumed vigilante and fellow protagonist from the original Watchmen, Rorschach, leading up to the infamous Crimebuster's meeting of '66.
Overall, I was pleased with the issue; the writers did a good job of staying within the parameters of the rich universe established in the original mini series created by Moore and Gibbons. As such, I think it is safe to say that if you are a fan of the original, it should not feel as though it takes away from the original story. However, these are only the first issues, so only time will tell. Nonetheless, the first chapter of Nite Owl was a very enjoyable read, and tells nicely the origin story of Nite Owl II in a way that is detailed yet does not drag on. This is weaved inside of the comic's visually pleasing presentation for a nice package. Rest assured, DC is showing that they know well that they are indeed Watching the Watchmen, and I think the project is in good hands with good things to come. As a big Watchmen fan I look very forward to reading the other three issues of Nite Owl, and the limited series of the other protagonists.