Sunday, July 8, 2012

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 (of 4)

There's a long tradition in comics and pulps of heroes who are self-made.

They develop their superhuman abilities through hard work, exotic studies and natural intelligence - and I've always enjoyed those characters (face it, that's more impressive than the usual "struck by magic / exposed to radioactivity" type thing).

So alongside Doc Savage, Batman and Shang-Chi, you can add Ozymandias.

This issue written by Len Wein lovingly recounts that character's life story from birth to adulthood.

Adrian Alexander Veidt was an exceptional child who learned to deal with a world that was not fair. He studied hard, overcame difficulties, crafted his mind and body into an exceptional machine, and eventually became "The World's Smartest Man," and (of course) a pivotal figure in the Watchmen series.

The mood of the book relies heavily on the stunning artwork by Jae Lee. It's sterile, which perfectly matches the clinical way Veidt describes his growth. The art has classic elements, mystic touches and a unique design. Truly exceptional work here.

The only part of the issue that didn't quite work for me was at the very end, where we see Adrian's transformation into Ozymandias. It just felt forced, rather than a carefully calculated way to advance his plans.

But future issues may correct that impression, and I'll certainly be around to find out - this is yet another exceptional issue in this series. Will any of the Before Watchmen comics stumble?

Grade: A


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