Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 (DC Comics, $3.99)

J. Michael Straczynski (w), Andy Kubert (a), Joe Kubert (i)

This is the first "Before Watchmen" that not only disappointed me, it bored me.

It really felt like someone was checking off a list:

* Introduce hero as a young man. Check.

* Introduce hero he will replace. Check.

* Have two meet, team up. Check.

* Training, equipment, strategy montage. Check.

* Hero's public debut. Check.

* Requisite scene from Watchmen proper, with requisite foreshadowing. Check. 

* Hero teams up with Rorshach, as he must. Check.

There were no surprises here for me at all. Which doesn't have to be bad -- most stories follow familiar paths. But this was just pedestrian. The foreshadowing in the Watchmen scene was unimaginative (Nite Owl is attracted to Silk Spectre. Wow, what a surprise!). The "hero's debut" scene was ho-hum, with Nite Owl defeating a large number of ordinary thugs (an implausible number, to be frank -- I let it go with Batman, but really, physically incapacitating that many people at once is hard to swallow for any other non-powered character). The training montage could have come out of a B-movie.

And the Rorshach dialogue lacked its usual unsettling spark. The short remarks didn't read like pithy insight, but instead like clumsy tweets. How can you write one of the most extraordinary characters in fiction in such an ordinary manner? 

At least the Kubert/Kubert art was nice to look at. Honestly, it was really nice. 

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Figserello said:
ClarkKent_DC said:

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Figserello said:

I don't think the character will ever recover from [condoning torture] as far as I'm concerned.

Frankly, I don't think Spider-Man will ever recover from sacrificing his marriage to the devil (AFAIAC).

But wasn't it Mary Jane who did that?


'The woman bade me do it' is an old excuse. Note that it's some woman that convinces Spidey that torturing somebody would make his old Uncle Ben proud too.

I suppose it is only a short step from making deals with the devil to supporting the Cheney/Rumsfield line on 'enhanced interrogation'.

That's all well and good, but what I mean is -- wasn't it Mary Jane who actually made the deal with Mephisto? I don't have the story, but that's my understanding, and if that's the case, then it isn't "the woman bade me do it" and Peter shouldn't take the blame for that action.

George - No, I didn't see the movie, but have trouble grappling with hipster irony.  I will take your word 'obviously' there at face value anyway.

 

Clark - I wasn't commenting on Spidey's guilt or innocence, just on how the editorial line was identical to the Book of Genesis: if there is transgression afoot and satanic temptation to be succumbed to, then there must be a woman involved somewhere.  (Which also sums up the Spider-torture scene, even though all involved thought they were doing tough Jack Bauer toughness rather than depicting a profound transgression and surrender to temptation, which torture should rightly be depicted as.)

ClarkKent_DC said:

But wasn't it Mary Jane who did that?

I've read "One More Day" only once and have managed to purge most of it from my mind. Please don't ask me to refresh it in my memory. Even if the decision was entirely Mary Jane's (and, for the sake of argument, let's say it was, with no input from Peter whatsoever), the result of her decision still casts a pall over every story going forward. I see it not only as a defeat, but the worst defeat Spider-Man has ever suffered, and until that situation is resolved I find myself unable to enjoy new Spider-Man stories. Of course, Marvel's EiC doesn't see it as a problem to be resolved (to him "It's magic!"), so it will likely be waiting a looong time before I'm able to read Spider-Man again.

It always bugs me when people pilory stories for misremembered details, though, so in the future I will take care to pilory "One More Day" for the proper reason.

Figserello said:

Clark - I wasn't commenting on Spidey's guilt or innocence, just on how the editorial line was identical to the Book of Genesis: if there is transgression afoot and satanic temptation to be succumbed to, then there must be a woman involved somewhere.  (Which also sums up the Spider-torture scene, even though all involved thought they were doing tough Jack Bauer toughness rather than depicting a profound transgression and surrender to temptation, which torture should rightly be depicted as.)

Yeah, but, so far as the Book of Genesis goes, Adam got the exact same instructions Eve got and could have refused (or obeyed, if you want to look at it that way), so I don't see that episode as being all the woman's fault, either.

Regarding "One More Day," thank you once again, Jeff, for reading something so I didn't have to. You are a gentleman and a scholar!

I dropped Spidey after One More Day, too. I gave it a year, and some folks here love the current Amazing Spider-Man (Hi, Chris!), but it just doesn't feel like "my" Peter Parker any more. It's clearly aimed at someone else, and whereas I could handle that with Nova or Teen Titans, I just can't bear it with Spider-Man. 

I haven't been reading Spider-Man for some time, but for a somewhat different reason. It's not just that they aren't giving me "my" Peter Parker; it's that I've changed in ways that would mean that, even if they did, it wouldn't be satisfying.

 

For example, the whole business of Peter Parker selling photos to the Daily Bugle for a third of what he could get elsewhere, which the paper uses only to trash his reputation, never made a lot of sense to me. (And the way the news media business is today, it really doesn't fly.) But it's too deeply embedded in what Spider-Man is for the books to really be right without it.

 

Better (for me, anyway) to leave it alone.

 

 

 Better to leave it alone.

Then why do you continually post and bitch about it? Why even go into the threads if you don't care? I am totally serious.

I don't care about Dr. Who, but you don't see me go into every single thread about it, and dump on it.

George Poague said:

I'm reading a ton of EC reprints, when I'm not dipping into the Marvel Essentials on my book shelves. Who cares what Marvel and DC are doing these days? Not me.

The number one rule on this message board is "No personal attacks."  Although I don't always agree with the tone of some posts, I find nothing wrong with Travis' statement above.  Even if it was problematic, it is completely out of line with the policy to this board to refer to other members as "abrasive, obnoxious, small-minded jerks."  If George has left this board as stated, then he won't read this reprimand.  but everyone else should know that such behavior is improper and will not be tolerated

Chris Fluit (on behalf of the Captain Comics team of moderators)

You know I wasn't trying to be rude at. I just wanted to know. I think I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to criticisms of comics. Figs and I went round and round on Fables (love ya kid!). I just bowed out since I am pretty sure I wasn't going to change his mind, and he wasn't going to change mine. It is just sweeping statements like this: "Who cares what Marvel and DC are doing these days? Not me." That irritate me.



Understood, Travis. I didn't see that you did anything wrong.

Thanks, Cap!

MAN I thought this book was probably the best yet. The art...man, the art was just gorgeous. And the writing by JMS was really nice. I hope he gives this one the royal treatment. I didn't read even one issue of his much-maligned Superman work, but I really liked his work here. Nice back story of a character that I never really cared about.

One fault: Too many "Hrrm"s.

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