Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair collects six issues of the Before Watchmen: Ozymandias mini-series and the Crimson Corsair backup feature stripped throughout the Before Watchmen line.  Both are written by Len Wein (co-creator of Marvel's Wolverine) with art on Ozymandius by Jae Lee (Fantastic Four: 1234) and John Higgins (2000 AD, colourist on Watchmen) on Crimson Corsair.
Ozymandias is written as an autobiography of Adrian Veidt, the man known as Ozymandias.  It follows him from his childhood as the son of immigrants to his travels in Alexander the Great's footsteps to his making his fortune as an adult and to his superhero career.  He interacts with historical characters from the 1960's and to the other heroes from the Watchmen books.  The books goes into his thoughts on how the world will react to a superhuman like Doctor Manhattan and shows the path that led him to his roll in the original Watchmen series.
The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, originally stripped into two page installments amongst the books in the Before Watchmen line, is a supernatural pirate story, much like the comics that were popular in the Watchmen universe.  The story follows a young Scotsman named Gordan McClachlan, thrown overboard for mutiny.  He is "rescued' by the Crimson Corsair, a cursed pirate sailing a ship of the damned.  In order to save his soul and escape the Corsair's fate, McClachlan must gather three impossible tributes.  But will the quest damn his soul anyways?
Ozymandias is s slow read.  Adrian's journey is mostly him reacting to the world around him and planning to save it.  The main action sequence happens in issue #3, where the Comedian fights Ozymandias to a drawn, foreshadowing events within the pages of Watchmen.  Like all the writers in this series, Wein is beholden to what was set up in the original book.  Jae Lee's art is great for this book, giving the characters a realistic yet classic look.
The Curse of the Crimson Corsair is only loosely connected with the Watchmen mythos, and only in the fact that, in the story's narrative, superhero comics died out and were replaced by pirate  and horror comics.  The story is dark tale that reads like something out of the old horror comics.  John Higgins' art is very moody and sets this story out from the rest.  It is definitely a strange story to have in  the Before Watchmen series, but those familiar with the original comics will understand it's inclusion.
Also included in this collection is a one-shot featuring the origin of Minutemen member Dollar Bill.  With art by Steve Rude, the story follows how an out of work actor became a superhero mascot of a New York bank and proved himself to be a true hero to the rest of his team.
For fans of  Watchmen, whether or not you'd like the book depends on how you feel about DC revisiting these heroes.  The particular book is fine, but the real draw is the Curse of the Corsair story, so it really depends on how much you like violent pirate curse stories.
Before Watchmen: Ozymadias/Crimson Corsair is out now for $29.99USD ($34.99CDN) .  IT IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS.

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