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…And the Superhuman Review – Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1

Every week, Chad Nevett and I will be reviewing an issue of Before Watchmen through a discussion of each issue. We continue with Ozymandias #1 by Len Wein (writer), Jae Lee (art) and June Chung (colors).

Chad Nevett: I’ll keep my opening thoughts brief: I liked Watchmen #11 better.

Brian Cronin: Ba-dum-bum!

I see that it must be such a great temptation to just do an ORIGIN STORY for the character in these Before Watchmen comics. I give Azzarello even more credit for his avoidance of doing one for the Comedian. That said, if you’re going to do an origin story for Ozymandias, Len Wein does at least produce an interesting one. Wein fully embraces the pulp novel inspirations of Ozymandias with a very pulp-ish origin. It even comes with a map, like the Indiana Jones films!

I presume the bit people will be most interested in is this comic is revelation that Adrian was romantically involved with a woman. By the way, we are five comic books into Before Watchmen and we’ve already had two cum jokes. Two out of five! That’s kind of nuts.

Jae Lee’s artwork is beyond amazing. In my estimation, he has done the best job of all the artists we have seen on Before Watchmen so far and there have been some really good ones so far. The man knows how to draw action, he knows how to set up a scene, he knows how to design great layouts, his characters are distinctly realistic but they are not stiff…he is a marvel to look at.

I also think that the idea of him becoming a superhero because he could not go to the cops to avenge his dead girlfriend because of the bad publicity it would bring him is a particularly interesting reason for a character becoming a superhero and one that I do not believe we’ve ever actually seen before.

What did you think of his origin?

CN: I loved the art. Jae Lee did some fantastic work (although, his style did mean that the school yard seemed like it was nothing but rotted wood and fog…), particularly with the layouts. It seems with the five artists we’ve gotten so far, every one of them is pretty far from Dave Gibbons in their own way and that’s been very interesting. When Adam Hughes and Lee Bermejo join the party, we’ll get a couple more un-Gibbons-like styles.

As for the writing… I’m torn. If it wasn’t basically an expansion upon Watchmen #11, I probably would have liked it more. But, it WAS that, so it fell into ‘needless expansion of an origin story,’ something that I have a hard time with in comics. I hate origin stories at this point, especially retellings of ones that I’ve already read. Most of this comic felt unnecessary in the information it ‘added’ to Adrian’s past. How he built his empire and segued into costumed adventuring is much more open and seems like it will work better in this ‘expanded retelling,’ because those parts in this issue were miles ahead of what came before. I would have rather the comic start with his return and expand the rushed relationship with Miranda and her death. Actually give that relationship a little meaning instead of introducing her, having her interact with Adrian a few times, and, then, die. She was a plot device instead of a character and that’s a shame.

BC: Yeah, I will certainly concede that the schoolyard did look like something out of a fantasy world. Awesomely creepy visual, but probably not the best choice for a schoolyard.

I totally agree regarding the relationship with Miranda. Their entirety of their relationship was four pages. She was nothing more than a cipher and a troubling aspect of her being such a cipher is that right before she dies, Adrian acts slightly different than what we expect from him – he suggests a chink in his steely exterior when he apologizes to her and insists that he will make it up to her somehow. I’d have loved to have seen THAT Adrian in this comic – the guy with normal human emotions that was forced to hide behind his austerity once the love of his life died. So much of the comic was cool, calm and collected – I would have greatly enjoyed some more passion from him.

CN: Definitely. Especially because Adrian in Watchmen wasn’t a cold, distant person. He was able to rise above his emotions and do things that he found horrible, but he was a passionate, warm person at the same time. Or, at the very least, able to come across as such. After all, his entire plot to save the world is driven by passion and you can see that in how he reacts to it working. The stuff with the bullies seems very cool as far as a scene showing how Adrian was always a badass schemer who could see twenty moves ahead and all, but it also showcases how he driven he is by emotions. That entire thing was an exercise in rage and teaching himself to control it. That he did so, seemingly, effortlessly is a little troubling. It would have been nice to see him learn to hide his true feelings and motives over time. To shift from letting his true self be seen by others to showing them the facade he wants them to see — which, in Watchmen, always seemed like a warm, caring guy. The sort of wealthy ex-superhero who would come off as genuinely interested in the lives of everyone he came across even if he wasn’t.

BC: Yes, exactly. We see him rage as a kid over the cage his parents kept him in (a cage, by the way, that made little to no sense to me – who would ever hide an academically gifted kid’s intelligence? I don’t get the point of that. An academically gifted kid is still going to be given shit by bullies, so they did not need to have him hide his intelligence – just have him be a gifted kid who gets picked on – done deal) but once he seals it up, he is way too composed. Heck, when Miranda dies, he mentions crying over his parents but the actual flashback shows him totally composed over their graves.

Did you like the twist that he only became a costumed adventurer because he could not go public with how his girlfriend really died?

As as an aside – what the heck was he planning on dressing up as for Halloween that would have had THAT be the costume?

CN: Um… non-authentic Eygptian person…?

I don’t really like that reason, no. It’s too typical for me. The superhero who needs a person tragedy to give him the push to put on a costume and take down some bad guys… That it began as a slightly misguided attempt to make the world better was more in his character. He did it because it was fun and he was somewhat deluded into thinking that, by doing it, he made a difference — a delusion that was later shattered at the Crime-Busters meeting when he realised that his actions were on far too small a scale to really ‘save the world.’ He wants to unite the world like Alexander the Great attempted and a cheap revenge motivation seems out of place to me. It reminds me of Geoff Johns retconning in Barry Allen’s mom being murdered. Can’t anyone do this because they genuinely want to do some good, not because someone close to them died?

BC: Well, that, in a nutshell, is why I am so wary about the idea of each of these comics being ORIGIN stories in the first place. I half expected the last comic we read to end with an owl flying into Daniel’s boyhood window…at NIGHT!! DUH DUH DUHHHHHHHHHHHHH…

That said, I think Adrian did need a slightly bigger push than the others since he was already so prepared to do good withOUT the superhero trappings. Rorschach had little other options than to be, you know, Rorschach, if he wanted to do any good. Daniel was so myopic he couldn’t see the good he could do with his millions other than building a giant mechanical owl. Laurie was literally forced into her gig. Adrian, though, he not only was interested in doing good as just himself, he knew HOW to, so I think it is fair to suggest that he needed an extra little push. Preferably it would have been an extra little push after getting to know Miranda through something other than a few scenes of Jae Lee drawing how hot she is (which Jae Lee did a great job with, seeing as how he is Jae Lee and he is amazing).

CN: He got caught up in the romanticism of it. From his obsession with Alexander the Great, there was clearly part of him that could get swept up with something like this. He may be the smartest man in the world, but he’s still human. I could easily see him noticing the rise in costumed vigilantes and thinking that could be a fun way to use his abilities and help people, and, over the years, that romanticism is beaten out of him as he realises that it’s actual a pretty fucked up life that doesn’t do as much good as he thought. But, before that, he’s blinded a little by the idea of it… That’s how I see it, at least.

BC: Fair enough. I think he needed more of a push, but I certainly can’t say that your way doesn’t make sense, also.

The back-up continues to be a strong little piece of comic goodness. Higgins’ art is great and Wein’s bit about hell was powerful. What I especially loved was the historical accurate nature of the lack of shark knowledge by our hero. We knew so little about sharks for centuries. One of the great early American painters has this awesome drawing of a shark attack where the shark does not look remotely like an actual shark. So to our narrator, the shark is just, well, a sea monster! Also, how awesomely fucked up is it to be looking into the sea and suddenly see a dude you know coming at you because his dead body is being pushed out of the water while being in a SHARK’s MOUTH!?! The answer is…very, very awesomely fucked up.

CN: Hey, I’ve never seen a shark in person, so I’m basically taking everyone’s word on what they look like still… you could all be lying to me for all I know. And the back-up continues to rock my world.

BC: I think you and I might be the only two people who would have preferred it if Before Watchmen was just all pirate comic books. Azzarello would kill it on a pirate comic book. Jae Lee on a pirate comic book? HOL…Y…SHIT.

CN: It should have just been Tales of the Black Freighter as an ongoing series with a new creative team every issue. Would people have minded as much? I THINK NOT!

40 Comments

I think there are many who would prefer if all of BW were pirate comics. I know I’m one.

“…a passionate, warm person at the same time. Or, at the very least, able to come across as such.”

Interesting. This is not anything like how I would ever describe Adrian Veidt or, for that matter, any of the characters of Watchmen.

The main reason I don’t especially like Watchmen (even while admiring the magnificence of the craft in it) is because I can’t perceive anyone to cheer for. Every main character is either so pathetic as to be awkward and/or an emotionally-cauterized monster.

I’m not sure anyone is a better example of the latter than Veidt. If Alan Moore wanted him to project even an ounce of warmth I’ve got to say he failed badly, for my part.

Jake Earlewine

July 6, 2012 at 5:54 am

Guys, I enjoyed your review of the story. But since the review failed to critique Jae Lee’s art, I will do the honors. Even though I’m not getting paid for my time. Jae Lee’s art would be better if his editors forced him to draw his panels in grids, like Jack Kirby. Because Lee’s panel layouts are too artsy-fartsy, distracting from the story.

And Lee needs to develop his backgrounds, too, instead of constantly giving us nothing but fluff behind the figures. Certainly the man skimps on his backgrounds because he can crank out more art and make more money if he doesn’t waste time drawing buildings, plants, furniture, etc. But to my eye, his figures mostly seem to float in some sort of dream-space because of the lack of background art. Lee’s forte is “moody” (i.e., misty, smokey, vague) — which works really well when “moody” is the appropriate choice — like on many covers. But “moody” doesn’t work in every frickin’ panel.

Lee also seems to have an aversion to drawing eyeballs or open mouths. For some reason he prefers drawing his characters with their eyes closed and their mouths closed. I don’t get it. It makes his art look like STATIC storybook illustrations instead of comic book ACTION. He gives us “fine art”. With Jae Lee’s art, I can never get totally absorbed in the story because I’m too aware that I’m looking at “pretty” art. Maybe the word I’m looking for is “precious”. For comic books, I’ll choose storytelling over fine art every time: I prefer Sal Buscema to Botticelli or Giotto.

I appreciate that Jae Lee has something fresh to offer — a style of his own — instead of being another Jim Lee clone. My compliments for that! He really is an artist. A “fine” artist. I rather think he’s a poor cartoonist, though. Which probably wouldn’t hurt his feelings. It’s just a shame he doesn’t study some of the past masters of comic book art and absorb some of their techniques to become more of a storyteller. Folks like Jack Kirby, John Buscema and Gil Kane recognized that they were cartoonists and not “fine” artists.

Thank you for your fine review. I hope my comments added to it and aren’t received as being troll-ish.

“Decidedly heterosexual”? Check again–more like “undecidedly”, judging from Adrian’s evasive narration in the hashish scene.

“And Lee needs to develop his backgrounds, too, instead of constantly giving us nothing but fluff behind the figures. … But “moody” doesn’t work in every frickin’ panel.”

I haven’t read this book yet, but given the samples linked above, this criticism seems a bit off-base.

Patrick Wynne

July 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

Why is China completely missing from that map in the classroom scene? Is it just messed-up art or something about the Watchmen universe that I’m unaware of?

sandwich eater

July 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

@Patrick. I didn’t notice that China was submerged under the ocean on that map. Pakistan is missing too. Maybe in the Watchmen universe global warming is worse than it is here. Still it’s odd that the ocean would cover up the exact boundaries of China and Pakistan.

I liked this issue. I was probably the least optimistic about this series out of them all. I know that JMS’s books have the most potential to be bad, but they also have the potential to be good, whereas I figured this series was most likely to be bland and average. This is mostly due to my thinking that Wein, like most writers of his generation, just doesn’t really have the goods anymore.

But I’m thrilled to be wrong. I thought this was the best first issue so far. It seemed like Wein has the most clear-cut plan of what he’s actually doing out of any of the writers on the project, and his execution was quite good. The language and pacing always maintained the right mood (IMHO).

And I have to respectfully disagree with Jake; I thought Lee’s art was outstanding. I think a major roadblock for the BW artists was the expectation that Watchmen will always be lauded for it’s incredibly unique visual style. So the 7 BW artists are left with the choice of A) copying Gibbons’ style, which Conner did; B) mostly avoiding a uniform style, which Cooke, Jones, and the Kuberts did; and C) actually creating a new visual style that matches the precision and discipline of Gibbons without copying the look. Jae Lee has been, thus far, the only one that took this route. Ozymandias #1 looked incredibly unique not because of Lee’s art style, but because of his layout style, and that attention to page design actually made me feel like I was reading something from the Watchmen universe. The way the middle of the pages are broken down by a vertical series of concentric circles was really great design work.

@Patrick Wynne

That’s a really good question, I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. I’m inclined to think it’s just a coloring error?

@MWGallaher Yeah, I can’t believe they missed that to the point of actually bringing it up in the review. It appears Ozy was decidedly bisexual.
@Patrick Wynne Tremendous observation. I missed it too. It can’t be a coloring mistake, because it traces the outline of India, making it an island. The stranger part is that time period should certainly be pre-Dr. Manhattan, so it’s not like the Chinese pissed him off or anything. There’s a story behind this. If only we were on a site where there was someone who could find out for us…. ;-)

aboynamedposh

July 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

I haven’t read any of these yet but… That panel with the ‘The Thing From Outer Space’ poster is so heavy-handed it’s unreal. That’s the sort of thing I imagined when these books were first announced.

Because Watchmen wasn’t know for heavy-handed repeated imagery and symbolism? It was clever, but it wasn’t subtle.

Michael Sacal

July 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

“I see that it must be such a great temptation to just do an ORIGIN STORY ” that’s what Watchmen was, an origin story!! Each issue was an oriign story tied together with a present day story. They’re just redoing what’s already been done, expanding on what’s already there.

It’s fair enough to say that I should qualify the heterosexual stuff with Adrian. It’s done!

Jae’s style suited the dreamy haze of the dark tower series better.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I always thought of Adrian Veidt not caring about sex or his sexuality. So focused on the bigger picture — he just couldn’t be bothered with it.

However, I’m reminded of a similar relationship between Hunter Rose and his dead lover, Rose from Matt Wagner’s GRENDEL. Only, Hunter was affected emotionally by her death a bit more than Adrian by Miranda’s death.

CaptainOblivious

July 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

@Tom and others

And thus the prophecy comes true. Before these books came out, people were screaming that nothing they could do could taint the original Watchmen work. But now, just like with the Star Wars prequels/abortions, we are now discussing things like Veidt’s sexuality as depicted by this crappy prequel book. Can we separate that from the Veidt in the original Watchmen? If so, how? Isn’t it the same character we are now talking about, who has been expounded upon

@Wraith

You did not like the original Watchmen comic – yet you come into and comment on Watchmen articles and threads

So how soon until Nevett calls the people who read his articles “idiots” again?

@CaptainOblivious

I think you’ve created a self fulfilling prophecy for yourself. So you can dislike it no matter what. Just like some people other comics were too slavishly following Gibbons style, and now Lee’s art is too different.

Veidt’s sexuality mainly came up because there was a minor error in the original article. But if it wasn’t meant to be is discussed the amoore shouldn’t have had a character in the book make insinuations of his sexuality. It’s all there in the original….but I get the feeling that no matter what they expanded on you wouldn’t be happy. Relax…it’s a really good comic book, not a religious text.

And realize what you’re accusing others of before you write it. Because I would hope you don’t mean people can’t comment on things they don’t like. Because your last sentence could easily be modified to say “You did not like the Before Watchmen comics – yet you come into and comment on Before Watchmen articles and threads”…

Travis Pelkie

July 7, 2012 at 12:35 am

I would have totally been down for a Tales of the Black Freighter ongoing. THAT I probably would have bought, because it probably wouldn’t have been a retread.

As to the China thing, I seem to recall in the original and in some articles about it that I read that part of the stuff with the Gunga Diners and such was Moore’s attempt to introduce a different kind of cultural influence into the mix, that there were Indian immigrants to America because of some disaster or something. I assume that the China thing is a similar thing, some unnamed disaster took out the country. Given that, from these pages, Ozy would have been 6 in about 1945, perhaps it’s an alternate “ending” to WW2?

As to the “hiding his light” bit, in the XMen Origins comics from the last few years, the Beast issue had Hank explain to his girlfriend that he gets high Bs/low As to be above average but not so much so that he gets spotlighted. So there is precedent for that element.

As to Ozy’s emotionalism and such. I always read the “world’s smartest man” bit as something Adrian believed about himself, but was Moore’s attempt to deflate that notion of a supergenius that knows best what people want/need for themselves. In looking at Ozy’s actions, he’s not really that smart, but has been TOLD he’s that smart — or he’s book smart, but emotional apart.

Just look at the pages here — the building blocks that spell “genius”. The self satisfied look on his face when finishing the test. The fact that his dad wants to live in the US so his son can be president. That’s a kid who’s told all his life how special and perfect he is, and has never been told otherwise, so he’s got his messiah complex and thinks he can/must/will save the world.

Is it that smart of a man to think that by killing thousands in NYC, he’ll bring people together against a common enemy and unite all the peoples? It’s no coincidence that I phrased that so it can refer to either Ozy or to Osama bin Laden. As was shown by real life, people will come together against a common enemy for a certain amount of time, but the in-fighting and such comes right back after a while.

If Ozymandias is so smart and well read, why didn’t he ever read the poem that shares his name, and get that one point of it is that nothing one man does in the long run turns out to be as significant as he thinks it will be, and that life goes on fine otherwise?

[…] CBR – Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 […]

CaptainOblivious

July 7, 2012 at 7:35 am

@M Wolverine

I would reply to your post – but your post is thoroughly devoid of any logic

Semantics aside – I’d still love to hear a rational explanation for why people that do not like the original Watchmen are interested in Watchmen comics

The Biologic Show

July 7, 2012 at 9:19 am

@CaptainOblivious

Not all people buy comics based on the characters or what it’s connected to….I’d buy anything with Cooke or Azzarello/Bermjero on it.

For instance, I have ZERO interest in the John Carter novels or movie….but I’ve been purchasing a new mini-series based on a John Carter novel simply because it’s by Sam Humphries & Ramon Perez.

Rational enough?

The Biologic Show

July 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

BTW, I’m having no problems enjoying it or following it either, though I know nothing of the source material.

CaptainOblivious

July 7, 2012 at 9:59 am

@Biologic

I hear you. But that is not really what I was asking. I was asking about people who DISLIKE Watchmen, yet will buy Before Watchmen comics. It makes no sense

PS – have you read Jonny Double? Loveless? They are miles better than these lifeless prequels

The Biologic Show

July 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

Loveless is the little Vertigo Crime book with Victor Santos? I’ve read that, not Johnny Double though.

@CaptainOblivious So, what you’re saying is you have no argument, so you’re reduced to insults. Thanks for tacitly admitting I’m right.

And learn to read your own writing. You said he didn’t like Watchmen, so what was he doing commenting on Watchmen comics. Well, one, maybe he likes Before Watchmen. Maybe he thinks they’re doing a better job creating a likable protagonist. Or maybe, as he said, he admires the art that went into creating it, but doesn’t particularly find the story engrossing because all the protagonists are reprehensible and there’s no one to really root for. But the question still stands, if he is wrong to continue to comment on things he didn’t like, why are you commenting on Before Watchmen, that you obviously didn’t like even before an issue came out, and I’m pretty sure you’re not reading. So why do you continue to comment on it! At least he read something and didn’t like it.

Now this is where you have a smart ass remark because you have nothing else to turn to.

CaptainOblivious

July 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Naw, Loveless is a western. I see you don’t follow Azzarello as closely as you led me to believe

@Wolverine

Again, no logic = no response from me. Let it go and move on, guy

And your inability to give any examples or reasoning just shows your lack of intelligence. So keep making excuses to cover up your stupidity. It’s all you’ve got, “obviously”.

I’m not a fan of the original Watchmen because I find Moore’s writing to be tedious to get through, if there were a ‘condensed’ version with just the main story (basically like the movie which I enjoyed) I might be able to sit down with it and finish the damn thing. Yeah I know what I just said is sacrilegious to most of you.

That said, I had zero interest in the Before stuff, but am trying this one because Jae Lee is one of my favorite artists.
It looks spectacular as expected, and bonus I’m actually liking the story. But the Miranda part indeed felt forced and rushed, she’s basically just a prop to advance the plot.

This may be a dumb question, since it’s been years since I read Watchmen, but I have a question about Moloch’s role here. In the Comedian, wasn’t it shown that he’s NOT into dealing drugs? (That was how the Comedian knew the whole thing was a setup to get him away from JFK, right?) But here, he’s the one who provided the drugs to Miranda, right? I can think of several different ways to reconcile those, but none that really make a lot of sense to me. Am I missing something, did I misinterpret, or was the error on the part of the editors?

@Wraith – so basically you are saying that unless the world is divided up into goodies and baddies you can’t get into it? Yeah, Watchmen isn’t for you …

I never dismissed Before Watchmen from the beginning. Not because I had any hopes it would be anywhere near the quality of the original, but because I think it is only proper to give everything a fair chance to prove itself. And then this arrives.. So much cheesiness, by mistake, while trying to sound sophisticated, in just two pages is some sort of feat of creative writing. And talk about twisting the characters’ personality. Actually no. Talk about not being able to understand the characters, thus not being able to write about them.

Ozymandias seems like a stuck-up dork through these sample-pages alone, much less the rest of the book: “Sadly my boy, life is never fair” said my father as he stroked my silken hair… Talking about your past through such cheesy inner dialogue? While being one of the most intelligent human beings? There is a difference in talking intelligently and talking self-pleasuringly. Way to miss the point of what actual intelligence is like. But even worse, way to twist such a great character and lead to this:

“As to Ozy’s emotionalism and such. I always read the “world’s smartest man” bit as something Adrian believed about himself, but was Moore’s attempt to deflate that notion of a supergenius that knows best what people want/need for themselves. In looking at Ozy’s actions, he’s not really that smart, but has been TOLD he’s that smart — or he’s book smart, but emotional apart.

Just look at the pages here — the building blocks that spell “genius”. The self satisfied look on his face when finishing the test. The fact that his dad wants to live in the US so his son can be president. That’s a kid who’s told all his life how special and perfect he is, and has never been told otherwise, so he’s got his messiah complex and thinks he can/must/will save the world.”

Discussing the character using the information stuffed in his past by this origin story, that the original creators never. created. Who cares about the original comic-book? From now on, discussions about Ozymandias will include his “updated origins” as well. No matter how failed as creations they are. And this is a failure. Not aesthetically, but a failure of understanding.

To understand Ozymandias what you have to do is read and contemplate on Chapter 11 of Watchmen. There you will come across his immense, for a human being, intelligence. His limitations of being able to do amazing feats for a man, but because he is still a man, with no visible guidance in his life (because everyone else that he knows of is just not as intelligent as he is, thus not being able to offer help), to have to go through the journey of self-discovery. And just like most original ideas, hang on to his discoveries, not judging them using his abilities to the fullest, thus leaving the potential for mistakes to creep in, mistakes that may remain, even if they are being detected later on, because of their emotional value to their host. Which is the way Ozymandias understood that he could do some exceptional good in this world, but did not fully embrace the lateral thinking paradigm. Which is what led to his first efforts being unsuccesfull as they were. Similarly to Batman’s crusade against the evil in Gotham but not the people that supply Gotham’s criminals with weapons or the social structure of the city that keeps people in poverty.

Until, he is woken up, by being humiliated. When that happened, instead of giving in to his selfishness, preoccupying himself with his humiliation, he dove to the source of what happened, the revelation of his failure, and what could he do to continue on his crusade. Which should have given a hint to readers of the title about Ozymandias intellect. He does not care about getting “humiliated”. What he cares is understanding that he was wrong, no matter who helped him in that revelation, or in which way. Selflessness. That is a sign of true intellect. Thinking on another level. Where conventions such as “coolness” and “prestige” are immature notions. Being smart is not just about doing impressive things with maths, but about thinking deeper and wider than most people. Genious quite often is about thinking of that which has never being thought of before, not just thinking faster. And through that incident Ozymandias realises his mistakes during his self-discovery journeys. He had stopped trying to look at the bigger picture, turning complacent with what he had already achieved, forgetting that he, too, was just a man, in a seemingly infinite universe of seemingly infinite knowledge, where no matter who you are, if you are still human, you will never know and understand everything. So you always have to keep trying to get better. In Ozymandias’ case, always trying to think wider.

Which set him on on another quest to save the world. This time, by never stopping to keep trying to improve, and with a renewed determination to be succesfull. And when he realised just how bad things really were, to assume the indentity of a sort of god among men. Not because he considered himself one, someone as smart as Ozymandias knows just how small he is, but so as to act without limitation.Most specifically, emotional and ethical limitation. Which is how he came up with his plan, which was not:

“Is it that smart of a man to think that by killing thousands in NYC, he’ll bring people together against a common enemy and unite all the peoples? It’s no coincidence that I phrased that so it can refer to either Ozy or to Osama bin Laden. As was shown by real life, people will come together against a common enemy for a certain amount of time, but the in-fighting and such comes right back after a while. ”

That is such a narrow-minded way to look at it. Even failing to take into account the actual practical form of what happened. Osama Bin Laden attacked once, and everyone knew that it was him. Everyone knew that it would be unlikely for him to succeed in something similar ever again, not because of lack of trying but because one of the biggest powers in the world was after him while protecting themselves at the same time from then on.

Ozymandias’ plan, was never “Ozymandias’ plan” to the world. No-one other than the people present in his base knew of who was responsible for the attack in New York. And no-one would ever find out according to his plan (Rorsach’s journal existence being unknown to him). The people of the world would only know that an actually real, horrific, alien monster existed. That it tried to invade Earth, and even though it died for mysterious reasons, it killed millions. Just by its existence. Nobody would know if there were more of those things. If they would come as well if they existed. The result? Intimidation. Such a great tool for teaching unruly people. It’s the reason why police officers act so tough. Why drill instructors scream in your ear. To gain authority by attacking your self-esteem, so that they can do their job. Police officers to make you more compliant, drill instructors to get to mold you into a soldier through their training. In general to make you shut up already and listen, or shut up and think. And that is why Ozymandians’ plan was so ingenious. It forced the governments of the world to put down the guns in the stalemate between them. What is more proded them, quite forcefully, to cooperate. And through that process to get to know each other, trust each other, work with each other, become more unified as humans. As a person that lives in a country that has gained and lost grounds throughout history, I can tell you that even after a war, not after a series of threats but actual war, people that found themselves coexisting with people from the other side, through time, without even some necessity driving them, learned to live together harmoniously, and even cherish each other’s presence. Why? Because in the end we are all human beings. We have our differences, but those are almost neveran actual obstacle in creating good relationships with each other. By a common need driving them, especially the need to cooperate as fast as possbile as much as possible to survive possible annihilation, the people of Watchmen’s Earth would soon forge such bonds that no passage of time would easily break. As for the fear going away. That was taken care of by the psychic attack. The fear would never go away.

As for Ozymandias’ emotions. Yes he does have emotions. And they are quite powerful. Not noticing them as a reader is a puzzle to me. The only reason why he wants to save the human race is because he loves it. He is in love with humanity, and its current state, its miserable state is disappointing to him. Its forthcoming doom is tearing him apart. He devoted his entire life to try and save humans. Not to rule them. But to just save them. What more could a reader need to understand that he does have emotions. For him to get sad over the death of someone close to him? He said it himself. He was too smart for anyone living to teach him. Don’t you think he would be smart enough to become a vigilante just because he wanted to do good. I mean, look at the world around us. Almost anybody can realise that things are quite fucked-up, and need some serious fixing. Why would the world’s smartest man need a wake-up call of all people? And such a cliche wake-up call. And for anyone in need of something more tangible as evidence to the existence of Ozymandia’s feelings, again, read Chapter 11 of Watchmen. Especially the part where he says of how ashamed he is of his reward to his partners. Isn’t guilt caused by feelings? If he was an inhumanly logical being, without emotion he would not mourn the losses that he inflicted. However, because he is as intelligent as he is, he recognised the need for those sacrifices to be made. And of course his tears and exclamation of joy when he heard the news of the success of his plan. Genuine joy for the survival of the human race. Not ownership of it, not any recognition, just what he considered a good deed. How can anyone say that character has no emotions?

All of the above were written merely by just referring to parts of one of the twelve chapters of Watchmen. Just a few speech bubbles and pictures. Which is why I think that we need no Before Watchmen, especially so average, so plain, an addition. All is there for people to enjoy. If only comic-book readers were as mature readers as they claim to be, and Watchmen was not just the accidental masterpiece that came out of an effort from a company that is almost solely interested in making profits instead of creating and promoting amazing art.

All in all what I see is very good (not amazing) art, and plain, average, uninspired, cheesy story-telling. Just one more of the somewhat pretty to look at but empty in “soul” comic-books that follow the tradition of most of the big american two’s offerings. One more title that is so plain, and so commonplace, offering nothing special, but just another episode in a soap-opera format, where stories are churned out to keep things going, making people complacent with mediocrity. Another title that some people will call very good, perhaps even great, not because they actually think that it is, but because it has been so long since they enjoyed anything truely great that they forgot the feeling.

Interesting post, Drithien. Thank you for addressing some of the points I brought up, even though I disagree with your conclusions.

Admittedly, I haven’t read Watchmen again in awhile (although BW has one silver lining to me, in that it makes me want to read the book again and pore over how good it is), so my memory of some details may be fuzzy, but I think the general topics I’m pretty sure of.

Also, I’ve only read of BW these posts by Brian and Chad, so I can’t judge the rest of those books.

However, I think based on what I’ve read here, and my view on Ozy, I think Len Wein has done a good job with the characterization of Ozy.

One notion I didn’t bring up in my other post, and something I disagree with you on, Drithien, involves Ozy’s “emotionalism”. I think you’re seeing that he exhibits emotions and is therefore an emotional being, but I think that while he may feel some emotions, he’s disconnected from what other human beings feel. In pop psychology terms, I’d characterize Ozy as having some type of autism, in the sense that he may be intellectually incredibly smart, but he doesn’t connect emotionally to other human beings like most people do. As to being selfless, iirc, the panel where he celebrates the completion of the plan, he says “I did it”, not “humanity is saved”, or “we’ve won”. (I may be mistaken here, though.) If he does say “I” did it, how selfless is that?

You said:

Ozymandias’ plan, was never “Ozymandias’ plan” to the world. No-one other than the people present in his base knew of who was responsible for the attack in New York. And no-one would ever find out according to his plan (Rorsach’s journal existence being unknown to him). The people of the world would only know that an actually real, horrific, alien monster existed. That it tried to invade Earth, and even though it died for mysterious reasons, it killed millions. Just by its existence. Nobody would know if there were more of those things. If they would come as well if they existed. The result? Intimidation. Such a great tool for teaching unruly people. It’s the reason why police officers act so tough. Why drill instructors scream in your ear. To gain authority by attacking your self-esteem, so that they can do their job. Police officers to make you more compliant, drill instructors to get to mold you into a soldier through their training. In general to make you shut up already and listen, or shut up and think. And that is why Ozymandians’ plan was so ingenious. It forced the governments of the world to put down the guns in the stalemate between them. What is more proded them, quite forcefully, to cooperate. And through that process to get to know each other, trust each other, work with each other, become more unified as humans. As a person that lives in a country that has gained and lost grounds throughout history, I can tell you that even after a war, not after a series of threats but actual war, people that found themselves coexisting with people from the other side, through time, without even some necessity driving them, learned to live together harmoniously, and even cherish each other’s presence. Why? Because in the end we are all human beings. We have our differences, but those are almost neveran actual obstacle in creating good relationships with each other. By a common need driving them, especially the need to cooperate as fast as possbile as much as possible to survive possible annihilation, the people of Watchmen’s Earth would soon forge such bonds that no passage of time would easily break. As for the fear going away. That was taken care of by the psychic attack. The fear would never go away.

Wow. I mean, I think you’ve characterized Ozy’s plan just fine, particularly that bit at the end about the psychic attack ensuring that the fear would never go away — I’d never thought of it in those terms, but I think you’re right that that was part of Ozy’s plan.

But read through your description of the plan again. No one would find out about the monster that killed millions. The people would be living in perpetual fear that destruction would come again at any moment.

Which is exactly the problem that led to the nuclear showdowns in Watchmen. The Cold War and the perpetual fear of nuclear armageddon are exactly what Ozy was supposedly trying to change for the better.

Also, don’t forget, the book’s hook is “who killed the Comedian?” And we find it was done in a hands on way (maybe to get back for being humiliated?) to deal with the fact that the Comedian not only found out the plan, but was extremely shaken by it. This plan made the Comedian blanch!

Note too, that in Watchmen, we see only a brief view of the world after the “alien attack”, and it’s only, what, a few months after? Sure, people will band together for the greater good for a short period of time, but as we’ve seen in our post-9/11 world, all the conflicts end up coming back. Ozy’s plan is not a long term solution, and the implication of the ending of the book is that once it’s found out that it was Ozy’s plan, people will turn on him.

Ozy’s desire to create a utopian world free of major conflict is a pipe dream, because you’d have to fundamentally change humanity to do so.

To me, Moore, and it looks like here Wein, try to show that even the “world’s smartest man” can have a huge blind spot if he doesn’t have the self-awareness to realize that even if a plan is completely logical and rational, it can be completely and utterly inhuman and monstrous.

His best plan, the plan to get the entire world together, is to bring us together by creating a fictional enemy and ruthlessly murdering thousands/millions.

If he’s so damn smart, why can’t he come up with a plan to change humanity without killing?

As we saw in our real world, we may have come to the brink of extinction at certain points, but humans end up continuing on. We didn’t need a massive slaughter to dial back the Doomsday Clock.

And I hope Moore was saying that Ozy wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. Because you could read it as him being the smartest man, literally, and his best plan involves mass slaughter to provoke mass fear, as well as killing anyone who finds out about it to shut them up. And if that’s the best plan the smartest among us has, we’re doomed as a species.

So let’s leave with some hope. I’ll quote you again here, Drithien.

people that found themselves coexisting with people from the other side, through time, without even some necessity driving them, learned to live together harmoniously, and even cherish each other’s presence. Why? Because in the end we are all human beings. We have our differences, but those are almost neveran actual obstacle in creating good relationships with each other.

Exactly. You were talking about how people act in the real world — they eventually learn to work out differences and live together harmoniously, because it’s in their best interest to. I believe it’s Steven Pinker whose latest book is about violence throughout history, and the argument is that humans are on the whole getting less and less violent. Perhaps we’re learning.

There’s another scene in Watchmen that’s full of hope, I think. The end of Laurie’s story, when she’s on Mars with Dr Manhattan. She’s figured things out and is despairing, but Dr Manhattan, supposedly beyond humanity, unattached to human emotions, can see a bigger picture, and gives us a different perspective. He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that humanity IS worth saving, because there were millions and millions of decisions and circumstances throughout history that all led to Laurie’s conception, and that means that human life is a miracle. We tend to overlook the miraculous nature of our lives because we’re surrounded by it day in and day out, but it truly is a miracle. And that’s why humanity should be saved.

Man, that took a while to type. I started this comment 35 minutes ago!

@Mark – simplistic view of what he’s saying. What he’s saying is if all the characters have no redeeming characteristics (debatable, but his feelings) then there’s no one to root for or care about. Or have feelings towards. It doesn’t mean someone must be super good, or even a good guy. In (some) Hanibal Lecter tales he is the protagonist, and not a good guy by any means. But he has appealing characteristics, and you even find yourself “rooting” for him at times. Your protagonist doesn’t have to be a hero. But if there’s nothing appealing about any of the characters, there may be some emotional disconnect. (Not saying that there aren’t characters who you can get behind in Watchmen…I disagree; just that if you do find them all without merit, it doesn’t mean that you want Superman punching Metallo out).

@Drithien You say that over the course (flashbacks, etc) of Watchmen that Ozy goes through a “journey of self-discovery.” But if this is “before” Watchmen, wouldn’t he still need to undertake that journey, and might not be as fully formed and realized yet? This is before he becomes who he becomes, and still has to come to the realization of who he is and his place in the world. The rest is a valid interpretation of the story. However I’d point out that it seems to very much come from the viewpoint that Ozymandias is the hero of the story; and I’d say a whole lot of people see him as the villain of the story. And that all those things you say he’s fighting for might be good in concept, but are wrong-minded in practice. And they’d both be right, because by portraying those imperfect characters who can find things to root for and dislike in each of the characters. Is Ozy the hero, or the super villain? Is Rorshach our only savior? Do we want the guy at the end to grab that Journal….or not? That’s where the genius of the story really comes in.

@M-Wolverine – I understand what you are saying about Ozymandias not being Ozymandias yet. But I think that there is not much to see about his self-discovery journey other than what is shown in the original Watchmen. What is more, I very stronlgly believe that Len Wein is not capable of matching, not Moore’s level of writing, but the level of writing in general to properly portray such a character. And nothing from this issue convinces me otherwise. i would love for Moore to tell a story about that part of Ozymandias’ life, and I did give a chance to Wein and would give to anyone else, but this is so disappointing up to now. It’s of average quality, with even some technical mistakes, a far cry from the masterpiece that it should be. And I don’t want to settle for mediocrity. This story had no necessity to be told. So, once the decision to be done so was taken, it should have been made certain that it would blow off people’s minds not this.

And I’m not rooting for Ozymandias :) I think that what is done is done. And like Nite Owl, Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan, I would just leave things be. Because there is no super-hero or villain. One person’s actions don’t brand him forever. Mistakes don’t get measured like concepts such as length and weight. Revenge is an immature concept. Justice is mostly out of human perception. And really, the world may have a better chance like this. Things will certainly become far worse if Ozymandias’ plan was made public. That’s the beauty of the book that I enjoy. As for the journal: Even if it gets publiced it’s Rorsach’s rumblings at best. Maybe they will get noticed against all odds, or will just become a joke, or anything in-between. This is brilliant story-telling, but I don’t think most readers got that. That it’s not a matter of whether the journal gets publiced and the truth is unveiled or remains in the bin. It’s about all those seemingly infinite possibilities of what may happen, whether it gets publiced or not. Which ties into Dr. Manhattan’s observations about the complexity of reality, and Ozymandias’ distress shortly aftert his initial success. Brilliant stuff as you said.

@ Travis Pelkie – Thank you for your response. To anwer to your comments: One of the reasons that I bring up Ozymandias intellect so often in my first post is to try and impress on people just how important this aspect of the character is. His immense intelligence is not the standard comic-book super-heroic intelligence, like Spider-Man’s or Mr. Fantastic’s where it does set them apart from other people but mostly as far apart as is needed to explain the inventions they come up with. Moore’s approach to Ozymandias’ intelligence is more absolute. It encompasses the entirety of Ozymandias’ existence. So just as he thinks more intelligently; making him such a brilliant scientist; just as he acts more intelligently becoming so good physically he takes on both Nite Owl and Rorsach without breaking a sweat, people that they themselves can take on almost everyone from thugs to trained police special forces officers routinely; so he feels more intelligently as well. What does that exactly mean? Who can know? There is a theological approach to christianity’s god where he is described as not-having-being-created, not-having-being-born, not-having limits-in-his-presence etc. In general a list of things that god isn’t. The reason? According to theologists god as a concept is on such a higher level than human beings that they can not even comprehend his characteristics for the most part. They just can’t think in terms that would explain god. Of course, Ozymandias is not some form of god (although he did adopt a similar identity for his plan). But his intellect puts him on another level that is very hard for a normal human being to understand. This is shown in Chapter 12 of Watchmen with such ways as Night Owl saying that this is too big of a decision to make for a human being, not concerning Ozymandias’ plan, but his own personal decision of whether he should keep what actually happened secret or tell the world. This is such a good way for Moore to instill the scope of Ozymandias’ plan. He exists on another level than most human beings. He had it in his abilities to do what he did, and chose to do so. As he said: “I could. I did.”. So, considering his existence, merely trying to put him in a category based on psychological evaluation is in my opinion wrong. Psychology is a science that was created by humans, with considerable intellect, but nothing even close to what Ozymandias is. Trying to psychoanalyze him is just not possible unless you are as smart as him, at least as smart. So for us normal humans, we take what we can, which is what he shows us and what we can make of it. In normal life we have examples of people that can feel emotions just fine, but for whatever reason choose to control them. A surgeon operating on a patient in critical condition doesn’t start weeping and mourning no matter how bad things are, he is trying to save his patient’s life by going into a mechanical thinking mode so to speak where fixing the problem is his sole concern. A sniper taking out a hostile target doesn’t think of how fucked up what he is doing is, when he is injuring a person in an open field to lure his squad-mates to him and take them out as well. He only thinks of his duty as a soldier and his function as part of his side’s army. Now with Ozymandias take that and multiply it, by a lot. And you can perhaps understand just how he functions emotionally. I think that he feels, and he likes it. He likes being human. Being one of us. It’s alos part of the reason that he dresses the way he does, names himself, looks for guidance, etc. look at Dr. Manhattan, a person even more intelligent that Ozymandias. He wears no clothes, he gets lost in thoughts, doesn’t even care much about names or people getting killed off right in front of him. He is quite detached to humanity and emotions. Ozymandias is still very human and would have a log way to go before becoming emotionless. It’s just that he can understand better what it is that he feels. And handles his emotions better. Being smarter, more understanding, doesn’t necessarily mean being a sort of “alien” to normal human beings. It may just mean that you can do things better. Another example of his emotions, quite uncontrollable in this instance, is when Dr. Manhattan tells him that nothing ever ends. When he realises perhaps that he once more made the mistake of getting complacent. That now that he engineered that which happened, he would have to actively be responsible and have to manage a few billions of people. He seems puzzled, scared, and worried. And again, the panel where he tears up upon hearing the news of his plan apparent success are a very strong indication to me.

As for his selflessness and how his victory quote contradicts that. Isn’t that how feelings work a lot of times? Prompting us to act in unexpected ways? Leaving behind for a moment the practical nature of objectivity? Ozymandias came up with a plan; to, literally, save the world. A plan of immense difficulty, where he would have to, play god while knowingly not being qualified for it. And a plan that would mean the demise of millions of people in order to succeed. Can you imagine what it must have been for him to work so hard, to accomplish such a seemingly impossible goal, at such a terrible price, for so long, and to finally know that he succeeded? Being a little egotistic for a moment is just fine in my opinion. I mean, if in a basketball game it is considered ok to cheer for your team, almost completely disregarding the efforts of the other team’s players that have worked just as hard and are worth the victory just as much, then this is a practical error that is almost non-existent.

As for his plan. Note first how I never said that I approved of it. So I am not saying that it would certainly work. However, the logical indications are there. As I said in my previous post. People would unite against a common threat for which they would know nothing about. This would not be an invasion of Iraq. It would be a fortification of Earth. For the simple reason that there was nowhere to invade. Also, the threat would remain forever in people’s minds. So the cause of the unification would never go away. And because people would be in a way forced to come together, they would create bonds that would last in most cases. So, it is in such a way different than the cold war in that there is no visible enemy to harm, only people to protect. What is more, Ozymandias’ plan did not end there. It continued with him taking the initiative to help humanity build a better world. That is part of the reason why he became so rich and powerful

The plan was terrible. Logically brilliant but ethically terrible. So, what it means for real life? Consider real life for a moment. Financial crisis, drug cartels, banking frauds, corporate control of governments, poverty, racism… Meanwhile most people are engulfed either in such restrictions that they can’t do anything about all of those, or are just too indifferent to care. Our world is tremendously fucked up. And personally I can’t think of anything short of a miracle that can turn this world into something good. Which is what led Ozymandias in coming up and executing such a horrible plan. It is no coincidence that Watchmen is considered one of the first deconstructive of (american) comic-book culture comics. It is a world where Superman would be a huge asshole for using his powers to save kittens and punch out burglars but not eradicate dictatorships and destroy corporations and banks that bleed countries dry. It’s not much of a dystopian world rather a realistic one. And that is how it is also the basis for Authority where the team butchers a dictatorship army and it’s commanders and the way Kick-Ass pretty much gets his ass kicked and loses the girl but achieves a small moral victory in the title of the same name for example. It’s how things work in real world. No (apparent at least) miracles. No obvious ways to right wrongs, because they are so embedded in our society that it’s seemingly impossible to fix. How do you make all those YouTube commenters become polite and mature for example? The problem itself boggles the mind. The solution? It would render even Ozymandias thoughtless! And it’s such a small probelm compared to all the others I mentioned above. So, ideal solutions belong to an ideal world. Not the world of Watchmen. I hesitate to say “not in our world as well” because I am still holding hope that there is something that can and will be done.

And in the end, Ozymandias realises the timeless truth of comic-books that with reat power comes great responsibility. His victory was just an initial one. Now he has to convince the world to unite, and no monsters are going to help him with that one. He has to speak to the hearts of the people. And it is going to be very hard, because there are so many and behave so differently and unpredictably, and he is just human. That is what he realised in my opinion with the last words of Dr, Manhattan to him. An entire world to be shaped by a single man. Yet as we see by the posters on the walls later on that part of his plan seems to catch up and he keeps trying, subliminal messages and all.

All in all I am of Dr. Manhattan’s opinion. Nothing ever ends. And yeah, logic may dictate that things are pretty dark, but existence itself, logically, not emotionally (religiously), is a miracle, and there may be something to keep that miracle safe.

Well, if you’re arguing now that Before Watchmen was not needed, I don’t think you’ll get any argument other than from Warner Brothers accountants. But then a lot of fiction isn’t groundbreaking or needed; the question is, “is it entertaining?” And in your case the answer is “no.” And that’s more than fair enough. I think we’ve seen enough of each’s work to say Len Wein is no Alan Moore. I think he’d admit that. But then, I don’t think Alan Moore is Alan Moore anymore, and if he decided to do Before Watchmen, it might be as bad, or worse (the Dark Knight Returns sequel shows that just having the creators there doesn’t make for a good product). If everything has to be great for you to enjoy it, you’re going to be disappointed most of the time. Because it’s hard to produce great every time out. If it was so easy, Watchmen would be just another story.

I don’t think it’s revenger that’s the motivation for Ozy seeing his comupance. It’s more a mindset of doing what’s best vs. doing what’s right. And I think the story portrays the different facets of Moore’s personality in the characters. He for one is like you and sees a messed up world and would like Ozy’s vision of it to come to be. But on the other hand he’s very much for freedom and self-determination, and not having the “powers that be” decide things for you, so is very much on Rorshach’s side in that aspect. He’s portraying the value of both, so he’s not taking sides. Which makes the end intriguing. It doesn’t have to be taken seriously, so it could do nothing. But it could also start everything unraveling. Does everyone stay quiet then? You see a world that is better off IF they unite (forever, it seems) over horrible tragedy. I see a world where these things should not be decided by one man, and freedom is greater than security. Because who knows if the next guy, or Ozy himself, will do the right thing next? Who watches the Watchmen indeed.

And from your well thought out response to the other poster, I don’t think Ozy is that far above the rest of humanity that he’s a god (small g) on earth. He’s more Batman than Reed Richards (creating fantasy science for breakfast). And there’s a point to be had that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, certainly not enough to be deciding all this for all of humanity. Where even dirty little Rorshach can muck up his perfect plans. Yes, he’s the smartest man on earth…but he was also lucky, and not completely self made. It helped his had such a high IQ. That’s not all book learning. And really, it’s great that he has trained to the point he’s so formidable, but he lucked out on the genetic chain there too. If he was short, like Rorshach, or procluded to being pudgy, like Nite Owl, he could train all day and night, and he wouldn’t be the perfect human physical specimen. I could shoot baskets all day, but the NBA isn’t taking me anytime soon. Ozy and Batman trained to get where they are, but they were given a gift by their parents genes that was no different than the one given to Captain America in a formula. And barely less realistic.

So I think he sees himself very much as you do. I think other feel he’s let himself become to out of touch with what it’s like to be human to decide what’s best for humanity. You see Superman failing because he doesn’t depose dictators (in a real world setting) and end all suffering. I see him as more of a hero because he’s not becoming our dictator himself (which, even a benevolent one, he’s still deciding what’s right or wrong for us), and letting humanity have self determination. Even if it’s for the worse. Because history has had a lot of people who thought their way was the right way, and everyone else should just follow them and see their vision…and if they don’t, they will make them. And it rarely ends up making things better. It’s what one values most…security, or freedom.

Adrian was going to be Ozymandias for Halloween from the get go, just so he could say “look on my costume ye mighty, and despair!”

@Third Man “So the 7 BW artists are left with the choice of A) copying Gibbons’ style, which Conner did; B) mostly avoiding a uniform style, which Cooke, Jones, and the Kuberts did; and C) actually creating a new visual style that matches the precision and discipline of Gibbons without copying the look. Jae Lee has been, thus far, the only one that took this route. ”

Conner did variations on the 9-panel grid, that’s not really Gibbons’ exclusive style. Giffen’s been doing it forever. I think Cooke and the Kuberts have something else going on, a conscious sort of retro style that relates to their period stories (Cooke’s more cartoonish, the Kuberts coming by it naturally because of Joe’s timelessness at this point). Cooke and Lee seem to be sharing an interest in playing around with the panel layouts, as a way of coming up with an analogous system to Gibbons’ definitive one. Whether they’ve equaled his work is another question, but both are experimenting.

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