Written By: J Michael Straczynski
Pencils By: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
I haven’t been paying attention. I thought Nite-Owl was a six issue miniseries and here as the final panel states ‘to be concluded’ I’m hit with two realisations; 1) One of my favorite Before Watchmen titles is coming to an end quicker than I thought and 2) what I have mistaken for slowly paced storytelling in these Before Watchmen titles may actually be a real lack of actual story to tell.
Y’see, over the last three issues of Nite-Owl I’ve loved the slow burning unravel of Dan Dreiberg’s past. His young life, his parents, his discovery of the identity of the original Nite-Owl, his teaming up with Rorschach, it’s all been great. Straczynski’s writing has been fantastic and Kubert’s artwork, maybe the closest in tone to the original Watchmen within the Before Watchmen titles. Like the other Before Watchmen titles though, there’s been a sense that there isn’t really a story to be told here but merely a fleshing out of what we largely already knew about our beloved Watchmen from the original series. There’s been little in the way of surprise and now with the last issue on the way in a few weeks, Nite-Owl seems to be nothing more than an expansion on stories we’ve already heard about (which admittedly was hinted at in most of the Before Watchmen #1s but I’d hoped would turn out NOT to be the case). There’s no massive discovery here really and just when I thought we’d hit the issue that might change all that, we’re one away from the end all of sudden (well at least I am – I really should have been paying more attention!).
With that said, that doesn’t stop me loving everything within the pages of this issue. Nite-Owl’s flirting with his lady of the night is played with playful, mysterious, almost romantic enjoyment, even with the seedy underbelly of the situation. Dan tripping over his Nite-Owl cool exterior is always a joy and this costumed lady sure knows how to push his buttons. The sub plot with Rorschach at a local church is also twisted (very, very twisted by the time you reach the closing panels actually) and well handled, even if under the mask, Rorsharch doesn’t really look right. He looks a bit too handsome and well kept somehow but I guess this is part of his plan.
Anyway, this issue bring a well placed sex scene, a great bit of Nite-Owl ass kicking with a bunch of goons and a wonderful moment where a secret identity is revealed in a very grounded and humorous way. We also get a hint at the darker side of the original Nite-Owl’s history as it’s revealed to Dan. Also, did I mention how twisted the cliffhanger is? That Rorschach really knows how to get himself into some messed up situations doesn’t he. Next issue (the last of the series) is going to get pretty messy it seems.
Before Watchmen: Week 15 Overview:
“This collection of miniseries’ are coming to an end soon and this week I was struck with the sense that this project has been a fun, thoroughly entertaining experiment but really nothing more than an exercise of fleshing out factoids from the original Watchmen. There’s still a fair few weeks to go and there’s still time for something more to be pulled from the bag but it seems like Before Watchmen, at it’s best will merely be expansions of what we already know and offer nothing in the way of shocks, twists or surprises. Nite-Owl continues to be one of the stronger entries in the run in my opinion, because it celebrates the characters it plays with extremely well and I look forward to revisiting the four issues as a whole when the final issue roles around next month”.
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