Or – “Wrapping Things Up With A Whimper, Rather Than A Bang…”
The last issue of this series is, seemingly, the last issue of the mixed bag that is Before Watchmen. It’s a few weeks late, but was it worth the wait? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in Before Watchmen – Comedian: Edward Blake was a child hero back in the 40s, but as he has aged, his temperament has not improved. Sent to Vietnam for the publicity, he quickly discovered and then became the worst that world had to offer. After murdering an entire village of civilians, has The Comedian’s joke finally run its course?
WAS THIS TRIP REALLY NECESSARY?
Not to beat a dead horse here, but I still don’t quite get what exactly this series was meant to achieve, other than a pop for sales. The Comedian’s book has been one of the most problematic of the lot, not only telling a tale that doesn’t quite jibe with the established tone of the original Watchmen, but one that actively works against that book’s characterization of Edward Blake. This issue opens with Blake being sent home from Vietnam, his cold-blooded actions having made him politically radioactive as well as helping to revitalize the anger of the enemy he intended to wipe out. It’s a brutal sequence, made even less palatable by a cameo appearance of Nite-Owl and Rorschach, appearing just long enough for Blake to mock them both, echoing his signature scene from the first meeting of the Crimebusters.
THINGS GET MUDDY EXACTLY WHERE THEY SHOULDN’T…
The second half of the issue takes up the narrative of his friendship with the Kennedy family again, as Bobby Kennedy shows up in his bedroom to warn him about what’s about to happen. The scene once again echoes the moment where Blake shows up in Moloch’s apartment, which serves only to remind me that there is a much more interesting story featuring these characters that I could be reading. The real shame is that this book looks pretty fabulous, especially the moments that are rendered in black-and-white to emulate television of the time, and the historical moments (Blake and Kennedy are revealed to be at the Ambassador Hotel) are well-researched and accurate. Even the sequences where Blake meets G. Gordon Liddy isn’t immune, as Azarello sets up a clever conceit, but shoots it all in the foot with a line that either references Blake being a fictional character or implying that Liddy killed John F. Kennedy in issue #1. Either way, it’s jarring, and adds to the disappointment factor of an issue that’s already laden with ennui.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A HARD STORY THAT ADDS LITTLE TO THE CHARACTER…
Is this an interesting story? It has glimmers of it, and I think that, separate of the Watchmen trappings it could easily be a fascinating tale, but the depressing ending makes explicit things that should have stayed shadowed, and shadows that which needs serious clarification, all the while serving as a less-interesting side-story to a book that I really enjoyed back in the day. Before Watchmen – Comedian #6 even makes it hard to understand what happens in the pivotal scenes, leaving me cold no matter how good Jones art is (and it is pretty good) earning a severely conflicted 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. That the final BW issue released would be so ill-advised seems to be emblematic of the series’ overall failure, something that makes me sad but does not really surprise me…
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!