Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 Comic Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, July 06, 2012
When DC Comics announced that they were going to produce more Watchmen stories without Alan Moore, it created a huge controversy. Issues such as creator’s rights and touching the holy bible of comics being the two biggest. We decided to not just give you one opinion on the first issues, but several. With a subject as broad and diverse as the comic, its characters, and the controversy behind it, we thought this was only fair. This week we look at Ozymandias, issue #1.
Review: This is the Before Watchmen book I’m most conflicted about so far. I feel if last week’s art team of Joe and Andy Kubert were assigned to this book it would be a complete failure. If you read my review of Nite Owl #1 you will see that I really enjoyed their work, but so much of a comic book’s success depends on the match between writer and artist. Jae Lee’s art on Ozymandias #1 is nothing short of incredible. It’s museum quality. His level of detail, structure and framing are at such a high level, that it could only be for a character like Adrian Veidt. It’s almost as if Veidt himself demanded that his book come with rendering of such quality.
I don’t mean to besmirch the talents on writer Len Wein (of which he has many), but I truly believe you could cut out 90% of the words from Ozymandias #1, let the visuals and small bits of dialogue tell the story, and it would be every bit as good, if not better. What I was most interested in reading, and what is by far the best portion of the book, is Adrian’s obsession, and mimicking of Alexander of Macedonia. I would have been happy spending more time reading about Adrian’s adventures retracing the conqueror’s footsteps, as opposed to getting back to the “Real World” so quickly.
Despite having a rather typical story structure, and a very done-to-death sequence involving school bullies, Ozymandias #1 does have it’s own feel, and one that is yet again different from the rest of the Before Watchmen books, and that’s a good thing. Jae Lee’s art really does elevate this book, and tips the scales towards me really enjoying this tale, even if what’s beneath the art is really nothing new.
Review: Of all the Before Watchmen series, Ozymandias was the one I was most looking forward to reading. After all, it was his machinations that were central to the entire plot of the original Watchmen series and yet I always felt the character of Adrian Veidt got shortchanged by Alan Moore in terms of character development.
The story shows a young Veidt fleeing Germany in the 1930s during the rise of the Nazi rule and coming to America. Young Adrian is a gifted boy, so gifted in fact that his father has to basically tell him to dial it down a couple of notches and just try to be a normal child. Adrian does just that and ends up becoming the target of school bullies and daily beatdowns. Yet even at a young age, Veidt is such a hard-willed character that he is seemingly always in control and endures his beatings until its time not to endure them. As a young man, Adrian journeys to the Middle East, retracing the steps of Alexander the Great, the man whose life he is patterned his own after.
The first issue of Ozymandias has done the most story-wise out of all of the Before Watchmen first issues thus far. You get a glimpse of what went into making the character that we saw in the Watchmen series. He is egotistical, self-assured, but not an evil man per se. Rather Veidt is a guy who truly sees the big picture of the state of the world and he’s willing to make the tough decision to sacrifice the few to save the many. I look at him being somewhere in the middle of being a Lex Luthor and a Bruce Wayne.
This issue was in great hands thanks to writer Len Wein. I admit to being a bit biased here but I’ve always felt the best comic book writers were those guys like Wein, Roy Thomas, Denny O’Neil, Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, etc,,,who came on the scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were not attracted to the business because of the lure of money…it didn’t pay very well back then. And they did not come from backgrounds of writing for TV or films. Rather they were comic book fans first and thus had great respect for the characters and the writers that came before them. I also enjoyed Jae Lee’s art. In the past I think he tended to over embellish but here is work is much softer and works quite well.
Review: Here we stand, on the edge of inspired greatness. Ozymandias, Adrian Veidt, stands before an endless bank of televisions, in the time before an iconic show down. The world's smartest man has ensured that every last detail of his flawless plan is in place; but if, by some incalculable anomaly, it should be disrupted and he perish, he's set about dictating (in brief) his motivations leading to this point. It's here that Len Wein proves the perfect man for the job. Veidt's narration is so compelling and so well written that it very well might work as it's own short story.
Instead, the power of Wein's words are multiplied by the deft beauty of Jae Lee's wonderful artwork. He imbues a sense of raw, sinew shredding power to the fight scenes. The combat is brief and brutal, carrying a calculated coldness that embodies this character better than any accompanying text might. Even the coloring bears note, with its lavish richness giving accent to ancient royalty and its muted sepia when invoking the old county.
There's one particular panel which I found brilliant: young Adrian is sullenly sitting in his room, contemplating the inequities of life; hanging over him is the poster for a 40's science fiction film. The poster contains a many tentacled horror from outer space. The placement, spacing a silhouette are simply perfect. You should absolutely pick up this book.
Review: Whew... With only a few more issue ones to go I didn’t think the one that would almost blow me away would be Ozymanias. The art by Jae Lee is both lush and intricate as he translates Len Wein’s words into simple yet brilliant images. I truly felt as if this was the pre-Watchmen history DC Comics promised us. Wein, who has masterfully supplied us with “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” now shines with his own story wrapped into the Watchmen mythology. As I turned each page, my least favorite character in Moore’s original comic actually felt more alive than ever before. His hollow, yet brilliant, plan to save the world from itself needed a back story like this. What is marvelous is that this is only issue #1. There are still 5 more (hopefully) delicous treats just waiting. So why not an A+ then? Ozymanias’ reasoning for donning the cape and tights seemed out of character. Everything, according to Wein, was calcualted and studied. This particualr moment in the character’s life seemed ham fisted. Yet, that might be reason enough to become a “super hero”.
Jarrett Kruse - TV Critic
Review: After not enjoying the first two issues of the series and then loving the next two, I was hoping for the best with Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt). Unfortunately my hopes were dashed. The art by Jae Lee is top notch but I have no idea what writer Len Wein was going for with this origin story. Ozymandias was always a bit of question mark to me and after reading this ish, he has a pretty downright boring origin. From his early obsession with Alexander the Great to his fascination with making money, the guy is simply not that interesting. He is brilliant (the world’s smartest man) and has a ton of dough. And…what else?
Reading the dialogue, you can almost hear actor Matthew Goode from the WATCHMEN movie’s monotone voice. Even on the page, nothing he says is something I really could capitalize on that would let me enjoy the issue. My main problem with the origin of Ozy is that most of the issue is basically him talking to himself. An internal dialogue about how great and talented he is rather than an actual narrative story for us to invest in. Although that does consist with Ozymandias pompous nature, it is not enough to maintain a stand-alone issue. Hopefully the next issue in the series will begin an actually storyline that we can all enjoy. A quick recounting of “how I made my first billion” was just plain boring.
Mania Grade: B+
Title: Ozymandias #1 (of 6)
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Jae Lee
Digital Download: $3.99
Digital Download Price and Issue: $4.99
Publisher: DC Comics