Before Watchmen: Comedian issue 1, I think for many, was going to be the test of this prequel series. Comedian is arguably the fan favorite of the Watchmen universe, as well as being one of the most in depth and complex characters, helped by the fact that he was a member of both the Minutemen and the Crimebusters. So, how does this first issue serve the character? Extremely well, I am happy to report. If this is the quality that the series keeps up from here on in, Before Watchmen will be better than anyone could have imagined.
It is hard to talk about Comedian #1 without ruining a lot of the surprises the comic has in store. I will say, though, that this issue evokes Wathcmen more than the first issues of Minutemen or Silk Spectre. When we meet Eddie Blake here, it feels a lot like the first time we meet him in the original graphic novel, listening to music and wallowing in despair. After reading the first issue, it is clear that this scene comes after the events in the comic.
What may be surprising to many readers is what happens next: Eddie playing a game of football with the Kennedy brothers. Hang on a second? Isn’t it implied that Eddie was the person on the grassy knoll? Certainly in the film, we know the Comedian to be the shooter, as it is shown in the opening credits. I had to remind myself that we implicitly don’t see him shooting Kennedy in the graphic novel, and this is especially important to keep in mind for an event that occurs at the end of the comic.
This issue deals with the friendship between John F. Kennedy and Eddie Blake, which Jackie Kennedy describes as love. And it is quite an amazingly well written relationship. Writer Brian Azzarello does an amazing job of convincing us that these two have been friends for a very long time in very few pages. In addition, his scene between Jackie and Eddie is superb and very intimate indeed (not in the way you are thinking), and this scene leads into a page of writing and drawing that literally had my jaw on the floor.
The artist here, J.G. Jones, has a very “nitty gritty” style. A lot is going on the in the panels, and it all seems to swirl around the action that you are meant to be focusing on. It is absolutely perfect for a Comedian comic book, and compliments the writing to a T.
At the end of the issue, the Comedian is enlisted by the FBI to take down a supposed drug ring set up by Moloch the Msytic. This scene is shear gold, as it shows us the “charm” that Edward Blake is known for, followed by some classic Comedian action. I don’t want to ruin the ending, as it is something that you must read for yourself, but it sets up the series perfectly, and will shock the audience, inverting what we believe about this character and his transgressions.
This issue was the Comedian comic I was hoping for. In fact, it exceeds my expectations. The only person who I think would hate it is Alan Moore, who may be a little upset with the changes being made to his world. And sure, he’s justified to think that, but Comedian #1 doesn’t seek to replace the Comedian set up in Watchmen, only to fill him out and expand upon the psyche of Edward Blake. This issue was perfect in almost every way, and I cannot wait for the rest of this series.
Next week is Nite Owl issue 1, another highly anticipated line of comics, written by the legend J. Michael Straczynski, as well as art by the brilliant Andy and Joe Kubert. This is seemingly a match made in heaven! Look forward to my review of what I hope to be a brilliant issue of Nite Owl.