This may be the one that some critics laugh at. The one they point their finger at in dire ridicule. BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN #1 feels a bit too faithful to the original material, more so than the previous two titles already released from the overly-debated event. Hence, let the comparisons begin.
Warning: By doing so, you will miss out on something that on the surface is a continuation or rehash of the misunderstood antihero from the original text but in actuality, is so much more to the careful and intelligent reader. Writer Brian Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones churn out a premise that ventures into the untapped layers of the Comedian.
A simple fact of storytelling is that character can often be revealed through relationships and interactions with other characters. Azzarello gives us more contextual understanding and allows us to empathize with the complex character known as the Comedian whose actions and emotions have always been in question since Moore’s take on the character.
By placing the Comedian in close proximity, connection and communication with the fabled Kennedys, Azzarello shows us the basis for the Comedian’s disillusionments in the American Dream and eventually, the death of said dream. For fans of the original series, this is a nod of respect because somewhere along the line (presumably the course of Azzarello’s series) the American Dream is redefined to be the one represented in the world of Moore’s WATCHMEN.
What this book does well is build a true sense of disconnect. The title character, writing and art may seem juxtaposed but that plays wonderfully into the person the Comedian was, is and shall eventually become. The Comedian is a troubled man. Emotionally, psychologically, and ideologically he disconnects from the people and world around him. It is what dually enables him be ruthless out of necessity and curses him with nefarious distinction thus ultimately leading to his tragic undoing.
This book has differentiated itself from the pack. It is darker in tone and more in line with Moore’s WATCHMEN, which may irrevocably lead to the measuring stick debate that is more applicable to this series rather than MINUTEMEN and/or SILK SPECTRE, yet Azzarello brilliantly, externalizes the internal empathetic qualities of the Comedian. And that is no laughing matter.