Before Watchmen: Ozyandias #4
This was the second issue of Before Watchmen released today in an attempt to catch-up after the utterly bizarre break that the series took over the past few weeks; unfortunately though this is not the only way in which it was a repeat, in which it was redundant. I warn you now, this review is going to be short and sharp since I really, really didn’t like what Len Wein delivered here.
Ozymandias began with a dense and literary style befitting of its bold, intellectual lead; it was the weirdest of the new Watchmen books, the one the took the biggest risk but it did so to big reward. The series has, since then, started to slowly slip away and with this fourth issue it officially fell off the proverbial cliff, a fall so large that not even the character’s cat like dexterity can save him. Not only does it fall into the trap that a few of its sister series did by shadowing so closely the true history of the sixties but it did so in the exact same manner as them, hitting the very same story beats but in an even shallower fashion.
This means more of JFK, more of Marilyn, more of the Cuba crises and yes yet another rendition of that damned Crimebusters meeting. Here the scene is given four whole pages of the book in which Wein re-uses Moore’s script word for word, leaving Jae Lee to try and reinvigorate the scene somehow, a task that he was fated to fail at. Even his usually extraordinary art falls flat in this issue; the once Caravaggian characters simply seeming cold and dead-eyed without the emotional context of a story to support them. He tries though, which is maybe more than Wein can say, and the book at least never looks bad; it’s simply a fact that a comic divided cannot stand and so Ozymandias #4 does fall.
Worst of all, worse than the laziness of Wein, is that none of these tired vignettes actually offer any new insight into Veidt or the story that the series had been telling beforehand. There are some seeds that may later flower but they are too sparse for this late in a limited series; when you only have six issues in which to tell a tale you should never waste a whole one. This is exactly what people were afraid Before Watchmen was going to be and exactly what the first few issues in this series weren’t. What a waste.