Comics Anonymous


BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN #1 by G-Man

The latest addition to the Before Watchmen releases features Dr Manhattan and if I’m honest, given the relatively so-so vibe I’ve got from the other releases….I wasn’t holding up much hope for this title.

You can imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed this one…..quite possibly loved it.  A deep, smart and science-filled first issue giving us much of the origin story we already know of Jonathan Osterman aka Dr. Manhattan.  The story flows from flashback to flashback as the different times in Jon’s life drift in and out of his search for the answer to the BIGGEST of questions – where am I? and when am I?

The issues title “What’s in the box?” (Another of Doc Manhattan’s questions) is all in reference to the Schrödinger’s Cat theory in Quantum Mechanics – BOOM a mind blowing theme for a comic book but then it’s no surprise that for a character such as this, that these complex themes would appear – the fact that it seems the basis for the opening issue and the fact that the human aspects of Jon’s life – the accident that changed him, the break-up of his marriage, his crime-fighting days and the impact his father had on him – combine so effortlessly, is thanks to J. Michael Straczynski’s pace and writing style.

Having enjoyed Straczynski’s work over the years (Thor, Superman: Earth One, etc) I was hopeful that his inclusion in the Before Watchmen titles would continue that but as I mentioned the title up to now have been pretty much a let down for me – We’re a fickle lot us comic book fans.  This release just seems to elevate itself above the others as giving a scientist a human edge and opening up the key poignant and emotion-filled events to us – just works so well.

That could well be thanks to the typically, sumptuous art from Adam Hughes as facial expressions, panel layouts and the cosmic questions in artistic form are sublime.  It could well be that part of the success of the title could be down to the failings of the other releases in the “Before Watchmen” run but then each title has felt like it’s own entity, so I’d hold with the fact that this is a success in it’s own right.  It could all be down to the combo of writer/artist which can sometimes make all the difference.

The first of the titles to work and interest me in any depth makes me wish this was a weekly release but then I can always re-read this until that issue #2 hits the stands.  A 4-issue run which I’ll keep on the must-read side of my monthly pull-list….let that countdown commence and in the meantime….I’ll be asking myself the same big questions………….(Head Explodes)

9/10

G-Man


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