Huh. On one hand, it read to me like JMS playing Monkey See, Monkey Do with Alan Moore. "My prose is just as good as his! It's just as good! I have BIG IDEAS too!" I mean, this is as close to an outright cloning of Watchmen as the prequel books have attempted.
On the other hand, some of the ideas are kind of intriguing, even if they seem completely apocryphal. (You can argue, as many have, including Moore and Gibbons, that all of these prequels are apocryphal. That's up to your point of view.) The biggest two are: Dr. Manhattan changed the future so that at the first Crimebusters meeting, he was teamed with Silk Spectre instead of Rorschach. Somehow, others are aware of this. Janey Slater calls Manhattan on it right away; later Rorschach has a bit where he says Nite-Owl insists he belonged with Silk Spectre. The other big idea seems to be that Dr. Manhattan time traveled back to the day of Jon Osterman's intrinsic field accident and is the cause of the "accident" (because there are no accidents) that transformed him into Dr. Manhattan.
But then I shut the book and thought - so what? What's the point? Who cares?
Adam Hughes art aside, I call this a miss and a letdown. I mean, with a character like Dr. Manhattan, anything goes. Sky's the limit. The mold could have been broken, like Ozymandias is doing or Silk Spectre is doing. Instead, here we are firmly in the Moore Watchmen sandbox, just kicking the sand around the box. (Or peeing in the sand, if we must be unkind.)
“@ZackRyder: @CMPunk She played me bro” I got your back.
you know, someone I know joked that this whole series "answered all the unanswered questions from the original watchmen".
While their point was that these are probably completely unnecessary, I sort of realized to myself at the time, having read..I don't know, 7 of them, that I feel like these are a lot more about the characters than the original series. While it's been years since I've read Watchmen, I sort of felt like a lot of the characters were pieces on a chess board for me, that the story of watchmen was mostly about these events that were happening to various characters.
I think these are much more interestingly about the characters.
Up front, I liked it. Unlike some other BW books, this succeeds in capturing the established tone of the title character. JMS and Hughes do this perfectly. I wondered how quantum we might get when this book was announced, and I figured we'd go back in time to see why, for instance, Jon turned blue when he became Dr. Manhattan.
The manipulation of the paper slip has been shown before in Nite Owl 1, the other JMS book, and it's an alteration to the Moore/Gibbons story that's small and significant. Jon is already dabbling in reordering the universe. In Watchmen, he's aware, to a point, of future actions and its ramifications. And he considers causation and ripples immutable; time is set like, well, a timepiece. It is constructed and wound, and it runs. He couldn't save New York because tachyon bursts clouded his perception in the days leading up to it. But this is kinda a cheat: Why not have him temporally move to the other side of the burst and learn what happened? This mini may address that or at least imply that Jon is not the watchmaker Dr. Manhattan thinks he is. He is part of the watch himself. So who makes the timepiece? Who records the universe? Who watches?
But Laura Martin conquers this book with coloring. Even down to the newsprint patina, she makes this comic sing.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
In the USA, the National Book Awards have been announced: Fiction: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann. Non-fiction: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Poetry: Migration: New and Selected Poems by W.S. Merwin.