With this second installment of BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN, we’re continued to be put through the paces of the Comedian’s skewed American view. This view is rife with social relevance not only in Vietnam era, but seemingly more so today than ever before. For that reason, the paradox that the Comedian represents as an amoral patriot enriches the world of the story being told.
Writer Brian Azzarello presents us with personal journey of circumstance. This more so than any of the previous BEFORE WATCHMEN titles stems out of American history and culture. It is a revisionist take on reality and a viable tool for exploring why and how certain things happened.
Azzarello’s historical fiction offers a narrative context for the real world as well as the world of WATCHMEN. As stoic, standoffish and heartless as the Comedian can come off, there is a sense that sooner or later the Comedian can crack. His heart, feelings, and ideologies will eventually get the best of him. We have seen that happen in last issue, as well as in the original series.
People often misunderstand the Comedian. Azzarello understands who the character is at its core: a man-child. Azarello understands that the Comedian is loyal to a fault, but at the same time impulsive, making him fickle. He wants everything his way. He is playful in a way that is dead serious.
Artist J.G. Jones works well off of Azarello’s script. Jones masterfully employs break-neck pacing and plays to the strengths of visual storytelling. Jones’ art lacks its usual luster, but his renderings work well with the murky story Azarello is working toward.
Of all the BEFORE WATCHMEN titles, this is the book that is based on the most recognize reality of America. There is a sense of detachment and misidentification in this story. This detachment, this coldness is familiar to readers of the original series. It may be too detached for one’s liking, but remember who the Comedian becomes. Remember what his fate is, because Azzarello does and is crafting his story toward a worthy endgame.