There are spoilers here for Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #4. But then, only if you haven;t read Watchmen. In which case, there are spoilers for Watchmen too.
I’ve been enjoying quite a lot of Before Watchmen. There are a few things that rankle, the misuse of quantum theory in Doctor Manhattan, a certain ordinariness in Nite Owl, and then of course there’s the whole concept of prequelising a work against the wishes of its writer thank to a fluke of a contract that neither party intended.
But there was one thing that really annoyed me yesterday. It seems that with issue 4, both Ozymandias and Silk Spectre are closing in on the inaugural (and last) meeting of the Crimebusters. And while Silk Spectre takes a tiny aspect to end on her relationship with Dr Manhattan, Ozymandias basically goes for a word-for-word retelling of the scene, with one important addition. Here’s a page from the original,using its nine panel grid, followed by the corresponding page from the prequel using its circular and split page device.
There it is. Those last captions. In the original, it just sat there, focusing on Ozymandias. The meaning was there if you took it and pays off wonderfully towards the end. In the prequel retelling of the scene it just has to add an additional line. The comic is told in Ozymandias’ first person narrative, the kind of tool Watchmen only used with an actual physical diary, we never actually got inside the character’s heads, we could only judge them by what they did and what they said.
But here it seems to be covering all the bases with unecessary naration. The original scene was rather perfect, this addition knocks it completely off its axis, with two small captions.
Or is it just me?