Friday, August 16, 2013

Booknote: Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair

Len Wein,, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair. New York: DC Comics, 2013. ISBN: 9781401238957.

I enjoyed Ozymandias' story very much, but I did not care much for the Crimson Corsair tale. From an early age, Adrian Veidt was gifted. Inspired by Alexander the Great, he decides to conquer the world so he can save it from itself. He sees where Alexander and others have failed, and he strives not to make the same mistakes as he moves to implement his master plan. I was fascinated by Adrian Veidt's story in part because Alexander the Great is historical figure I find fascinating as well. Also, this tale shows how Adrian puts his plan in place, the plan we see come to fruition in Watchmen. In addition, the Comedian has a strong presence here (which he also had in the Minutemen/Silk Spectre volume). All in all, this is a good tale that takes us right to the beginning of events in Watchmen.

The Crimson Corsair's tale is a pirate tale. It is the tale of a young Scotsman in the British Navy who rebels against a tyrannical captain, attempts a mutiny, and fails. His ship is attacked by another ship, sunk, and he is the sole survivor. However, his fate is worse as he picked up by the legendary Flying Dutchman, led by the Crimson Corsair. The corsair then curses him, and the rest of the comic is the young man's quest to end the curse. This is a pirate/horror tale. It does somewhat the same function as the Tales of the Black Freighter did in Watchmen. A difference is that here, Crimson Corsair is a standalone comic, not interspersed into the main story. It is a decent tale, but I felt it was more of a distraction, like the publishers needed something to fill out the volume. With Watchmen, I had an idea of what Moore and Gibbons were trying to accomplish with the comic within a comic. Here, it just feels more like filler. I did like the art in the story and the concept of a hidden civilization in a Caribbean island.

As an additional feature, the volume features the story of Dollar Bill. Dollar Bill is a superhero bank spokesman who manages to join the Minutemen. They want him mostly for his popularity, that they hope will rub on them as well. It's a light story of the guy whose only claim to fame is dying by choking on his cape when it gets caught in a revolving door.

Overall, I liked  this volume though not as much as the previous one. If you ask me, 3.5 out of 5 stars. Libraries that have the original work will want to add these prequels to their collections Academic libraries with pop culture or recreational reading collections may want to add them as well, especially if they have Watchmen already.

Note to appease The Man: I read this book as an electronic galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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