Review: Before Watchmen - Ozymandias #1 / Writer: Len Wein / Art: Jae Lee / Publisher: DC / Release Date: Out Now
There's a saying popular amongst writers of fiction: "Show, don't tell". Before Watchmen: Ozymandias involves quite a bit of telling when what it really needed was some more showing. Writer Len Wein, who served as editor for the original 12-issue run of Watchmen in the 1980s, has delved into the previously untold origin of Ozymandias, Watchmen's most delightfully ambiguous character. The majority of the book's story is delivered as Alexander Veidt's internal monologue, and unfortunately, the character's unrelenting pretension makes for a less than compelling read. Ozymandias' childhood, adolescence, and rise to prominence are narrated by Veidt himself, as though he were reading his own diary, but it lacks the finesse that Darwyn Cooke displayed in the similarly formatted Before Watchmen: Minutemen.
The elegant sweeping lines of Jae Lee's art are beautiful but static. Each page is a series of individual moments frozen in time, creating a tableau of pictures that is nearly as monotonous as the writing. This rather plebeian origin story does little to enrich the figure of Ozymandias, a character whose greatest asset was his ambivalence as his motivations danced along the border between insanity and reason. Before Watchmen: Ozymandias is topped off with a classic "women in refrigerators" scenario that is disappointingly uninspired. While several of the Before Watchmen titles have shown that there are rich and complex stories to be mined from the pages of the original graphic novel, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias proves that sometimes a little mystery is a good thing.