Before Watchmen: Comedian #2
Before Watchmen is a time machine, it’s a journey back into the pasts of these prominent comic characters, Before Watchmen: Comedian however takes that premise to its precipice by barreling back into the past of their, and our, world as a whole. Last month it was Monroe and the jocular John F. that The Comedian found himself chumming around with; this week it’s Bobby, Ali and a bunch of soon to be ‘Nam vets. The first two flitter by in a prologue that makes some salient points but ultimately doesn’t have one, while the latter largely defines the pacing of the entire issue. This book is bloody, brutal and honestly it’s a mess, it’s Vietnam in comic book form and I don’t invoke that imitation as a form of flattery.
Honestly I’m flabbergasted as to just what this book is meant to be; the premiere issue was flawed but found its feet by the end, seemingly beginning a nice little story about politics, corruption and an overarching conspiracy. This second issue though takes up none of the threads suggested by that twist, then fails to replace them with any other form of overarching story. There are some decent scenes but they don’t fit together in any kind of fulfilling fashion, similarly there are some decent lines but they rarely render their scenes any stronger. It’s scattershot in the worst sense of the word, a series of shells fired blindly into the black, missing every trace of matter and meaning.
Vietnam is a dramatic gold mine, as the endless string of successful movies set there does strongly attest, somehow though Azzarello has only mined Eddie Blake’s first foray there for its most flawed elements. He paces through all of the expected plot points – the midnight massacre, the mess hall hang-outs, the helicopter dismount and even the anachronistic Chateau – but none of them have much point, it’s only the very last that produces some tangible story and that was my least favorite and the hardest to follow. I don’t want any more of that.
Half an issue in and Vietnam is already feeling like a Quagmire for this book, It needs to start putting an exit strategy into place very soon I think, though of course if this issue is anything to go by then the third could well start up again at some entirely different place in the sixties and maybe this time that wouldn’t be so bad. There is merit to following the Forest Gump formula of event hopping with one of these books, but if vignettes are all we are going to get then they need to be very, very good which unfortunately these are not. Next up, Nite-Owl #2…shit. To turn one of the books motif’s into a relevant phrase, out of the ass and into the toilet bowl?