Review: Before Watchmen – Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair / Author: Len Wein / Artist: Jae Lee, John Higgins / Publisher: DC Comics/ Release Date: Out Now
DC’s Before Watchmen series only really works when it adds to the original series in some way. Of the three character stories in this book, only the first one, Ozymandias, comes even close. This story is drawn is a classic Art Deco style that feels as if it’s been torn out of the pages of a 1960s Boy's Own adventure, specifically one about Alexander the Great. Though the plot line isn’t terribly clever, comic book legend Len Wein really gets a feel for the arrogant hero, and the first person narration from the self-titled world’s smartest man is a real treat. Sadly, the other tales aren’t as good.
The second story is inspired by the pirate comic book that makes a sub-story in the original Watchmen graphic novel. But whereas there it works as a elaborate metaphor for the ongoing narrative, Curse of the Crimson Corsair is a sub-par nautical horror story of the sort that was old and clichéd before Pirates of the Carribean got their hands on it. The art is okay; Higgins does bloody very well and he apes the style of the old school EC comics quite well, but like the undead pirates in the story, its soulless and foul.
We also get a short story about the hapless hero Dollar Bill, which wraps the collection up nicely, but adds nothing to the mythos of the Watchmen. This collection is okay, but Before Watchmen: Ozymandias / Crimson Corsair feels like a bit of an afterthought, and is perhaps only of interest to collectors of the series.