Review #1 – By Gary Webb
Cover Rank: 7/10. While there is nothing wrong with the cover per se, and it is definitely continuing the Watchmen trend of an ambiguous image that is meant to be a point of interest over which fans can speculate, it’s not the route I would have chosen to go. While I do find it to be mildly intriguing, the image of what appears to be two distinct costumes fallen out of a cardboard box alongside a selection of Nostalgia (by Veidt) cosmetics doesn’t necessarily speak to what unfolds inside in a meaningful way which, in my opinion, is the primary job of a cover.
Best Variant: Now the variant is a whole different story. Front and center is the image of Lex Luthor, who recently resumed his more villainous role, seated in his office with an empty drink and the iconic smiley-faced button before him. The key takeaway however is the hand of Adrian Veidt resting on his shoulder. The smartest men of two world’s united. While it may be a bit presumptuous to say that they are in fact united in this issue, it definitely speaks more to the happenings inside than the standard cover.
What I Liked: Where do I start, there are so many moments throughout the issue that stand out to me. The dysfunctional unit Ozymandias has brought together shows that, despite his profession of learning from past mistakes, he’s probably not the savior we’re looking for. The opening scenes that intertwine flashbacks with the final preparations to begin the hunt for Dr. Manhattan, while they don’t move the story forward by any means, further solidified the new characters history and place in Watchmen lore while creating added mystery (as if this series required it). it’s clear that while Manhattan seemed to restrain himself upon noticing she was pregnant, there almost has to be more going on. Manhattan’s ability to see literally everything including the future brings me to question the baby’s identity more so than just my initial curiosity left over from the first issue. A one time pass due to pregnancy doesn’t justify why Veidt needs her with him No answers are given, but with ten more issues coming, I’m sure that it will become a key moment that will address just why Geoff Johns went with her as his first addition to the narrative.
Things gather steam once they make the jump to the world DC’s characters inhabit. While we don’t encounter the focus of the hunt (Manhattan) what we do get is Rorschach and Veidt splitting off to seek the aid of this Earth’s smartest individuals: Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne. What follows plays out nearly exactly how I would have imagined it would. From Lex’s condescending manner upon Veidt’s appearance in his office, to Rorschach’s profiling of Batman while investigating the Bat-Cave, Johns clearly has a firm grasp of the characters he’s playing with and it shows through.
What I Didn’t Like: For all that I’m sure the opening flashback scenes are going to come into play further along in the story, I can’t help feeling that I wish it had been trimmed down. Much like a scene where Bruce Wayne is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, forced on him by the board members of his company, it felt like padding that took up time I wanted spent in the main narrative. While the flashbacks will be pertinent later, the ink blot tests served no real purpose other than to establish that Luthor is attempting a takeover of Wayne-Enterprises which gets covered later in the issue. If not for the depiction of the populace in revolt over superheroes I would say it really served no purpose. But this connection to the unrest that preceded the Keene Act in The Watchmen does add more resonance to the tale.
Best Moment: Honestly there are two moments that I debated over picking, but given the fact that I’ll cover one of them in going over the conclusion, I’m going to go with the meeting between Rorschach and Batman. As Rorschach arrives in the middle of the night, The Dark Knight is of course out on the streets doing what he does best, thwarting the nefarious acts of villainy against which he is sworn to prevent. This affords Rorschach the opportunity to wander the manor at his leisure. Including helping himself to some pancakes left out for Bruce by Alfred. Through the course of his search Rorschach notices something off about a certain grandfather clock that of course leads to him divining it’s use as a hidden door. Upon entering the batcave itself, tripping a silent alarm in the process, Rorschach proceeds to explore while narrating a his take on Bruce in his trademark style which culminates in a stare down between the two smack dab in the center of Bruce’s most private sanctum. Giant penny looming over both, what words perfectly capture the moment? Batman: “You are my breakfast.” Rorschach: “Yeah. I did.” In no way is that what one would expect in a first encounter between two such iconic characters, and yet, it feels right to me.
Ending: 9/10. Juxtaposed against the scene above, is the simultaneous cliffhanger taking place in Lex’s office. As Ozymandias is attempting to find common ground between himself and Luthor (and largely not succeeding) bullets fly into the room clipping Luthor and narrowly missing Veidt. From out of the shadows steps The Comedian, long dead (in the Watchmen universe.) His uncovering of Veidt’s first “save the world” plan and subsequent demise was the catalyst that led to the heroes involvement in Watchmen, which while they weren’t able to thwart his plan, Rorschach’s journal was the key that undid what he had wrought. It all stems from the murder of The Comedian. Based off his limited appearance, this is not a red herring, it is in fact “The” Comedian , somehow back from the grave. Color me curious.
What I’m Looking Forward To: Can I go with: EVERYTHING? Where is Dr. Manhattan? How Is the Comedian Back? What happens next between Rorschach and Batman? What’s behind Luthor’s renewed attacks on superheroes and is he dead? (Yeah, I know the answer to that one) Do they have time for Alfred to make more pancakes? The questions will leave me in suspense for the next month. The clues and foreshadowing have done nothing but give me more to ponder in the coming days and I’m literally pulsating with excitement as I write this. After the relatively slow burn issue #1 , #2 has laid so many threads that I am well and truly hooked. Assuming Geoff Johns and Gary Frank can maintain this level of intrigue as the build to their crescendo, I am more confident than ever that this series will earn it’s place in the lore of both universes. Which is a fairly remarkable feat.
Review Score 9/10
Review #2 – By Chris Micieli
Cover Rank: 7.5/10. An interesting choice for a cover. So far I’ve been underwhelmed by the covers through two issues. This one is better than the premiere issue but it still doesn’t capture Watchmen for what it is. It doesn’t even go along with original Watchmen characters. It’s basically a pile of clothing the Mime and Marionette wear clumped on the floor. However, again the cover plays more like a page 1 than a cover as one page in the cover is incorporated into the story immediately. From that aspect it is more on the creative side and we don’t get an image of a Watchmen character which would be much more appealing to the eye.
Best Variant Issue: 7/10. There’s only one and, again, it’s not bad. If they original cover gives us clothing of non Watchmen characters then the variant most definitely will, right!? No. It’s Lex Luthor sitting at a desk. But a hand is extended to touch his shoulder, and who that hand belongs to is of great interest as we will find out in the pages that follow.
What I Like: My pride for wanting this to be a fresh new Watchmen story has subsided and by that I mean Watchmen characters and ONLY Watchmen characters. It has to be if I’m to review this series fairly. I could go off and rank them negatively on this aspect alone but that would be unfair to the reader as well as beating a dead horse. I expressed my displeasure with that aspect in my review for issue #1, so I can easily set that aside now and review this series for what it is intended to be. Even if I was still bitter towards my not so fond take on them reviving the Watchmen, a lot of that has gone away with this exceptional issue. We are getting a little deeper into Ozymandias’ plan and why he wants the Mime and Marionette to join him in the mission to find Dr. Manhattan,who we finally get a glimpse of for the first time even though it’s in the form of a flashback. That flashback is the reason why the Mime and Marionette are along for this journey, though they don’t know that of course.
Having Rorschach and Veidt travel through time, or to a different time period, and to see where it is they end up was rather cool. It brings up so many types of questions that I hope will be answered at some point, but let’s not rush this. Let’s just enjoy the creativity at work here. I can’t really continue this review without spoiling where exactly they went, so close your eyes: Gotham City.
Veidt figured out a way to track the atoms that leave Jon’s body as he moves about and he’s tracked him to Gotham. Seeing Rorschach and Veidt arrive is the City and not know anything about it was amusing and exciting to watch where this goes as they explore the legendary home of a certain superhero. Which is exactly what the plan is for now. Rorschach is to find Batman, Veidt is looking for Lex Luthor and they have to convince the two to join the cause in looking for Dr. Manhattan in order to save the world. We don’t get that answer yet either but the lead up to Rorschach finding Batman is great reading. The tandem these two could possibly create is something that has me excited to see what’s in store. The short dialog between them is perfect.
What I didn’t like: This could be written for any story arc, but the questions are starting to pile up and it’s in my hardwired, comic book fan nature to demand answers long before we are entitled to them. I’m still on the fence as to if this will stand the test of time like the original series, but I’m not going to make those statements anytime soon. It wouldn’t be fair.
I also would have liked a little more on the Mime and Marionette. They were showcased early in the issue through a backstory but as for the present they were more or less just there and talked about by Veidt. Fear not, however. They have made a move that will set them free within the city of Gotham.
Best Moment: Rorschach eating Batman’s breakfast. Has literally nothing to do with the issue as a whole, but it was damn funny to see. Batman’s confrontation of Rorschach about said breakfast was even better.
Aside from people stealing from the mouths of others, I really thought the art style going into and coming out of Batman’s storyline was very creative. They use the Watchmen side of the story to great effect as they introduce the Batman side. There’s little to no action that takes place within the issue so it relies heavily on the art style which is top of the line. You get a great sense of the bleakness of the world.
Ending: 10/10. We would have plenty of questions to satisfy our curiosity, but the ending throws the twist of all twists at us and now we don’t know what the hell is going on.
What I’m Looking Forward To: What the ending means for starters. There is a lot of explaining to do there. I’m also looking forward to the dynamic between Rorschach and Batman. The Veidt and Luthor aspect is interesting sure, but this seems made for a Rorschach / Batman dynamic team.
This also makes two issues with no sign of Dr. Manhattan in the present tense. We got a little tease from the flashback, but I’m not counting that. The build up for him to appear continues.
Overall Ranking: 8.5/10