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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you didn't want to know the ending, then you shouldn't have read Watchmen
The stories from the mini-series Ozymandias (6 issues) and Dollar Bill (1 issue) are collected, along with the Crimson Corsair back-ups from the various mini-series, as Before Watchmen: Ozymandias / Crimson Corsair HC. These stories, set (obviously) before the events of the 25 year-old Watchmen TP International Edition mini-series slot flawlessly into the continuity. I...
Published 10 months ago by Mr. Mice Guy

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The pirate sinks it
Before Watchmen is a series of prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's much-lauded book, Watchmen, with each character from the book given their own mini-series. This volume collects the Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair mini-series and the Dollar Bill one-shot.

Having a strong background in comics as the creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing, as well as editing...
Published 15 months ago by Sam Quixote


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The pirate sinks it, 7 Aug 2013
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Before Watchmen is a series of prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's much-lauded book, Watchmen, with each character from the book given their own mini-series. This volume collects the Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair mini-series and the Dollar Bill one-shot.

Having a strong background in comics as the creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing, as well as editing the original Watchmen comics, writer Len Wein is a good fit for this series. For those who've read the original Watchmen (and why would you be reading these books if you haven't?) Ozymandias, aka Adrian Veidt, seemed like a pretty bland character. Labelled the World's Smartest Man and wearing a campy outfit, he never came across as a particularly interesting man. With this mini-series Wein has at least made him appear to be a richer character even if he doesn't present much to surprise the reader.

Narrating his story in the first person into a recording device for posterity (appropriate given his massive ego), Veidt details his biography and how he came to call himself Ozymandias and decide that it was up to him to save the world. This latter point is perhaps the aspect to Veidt's personality that Wein really nails. We see Veidt go from misunderstood bullied genius to a lethal fighting machine whose extraordinary intellect and ego pushes him further away from his humanity, symbolised in his isolated Antarctic retreat Karnak where he hatches his mad plan. Through his narration, his actions almost become understandable while he even seems sympathetic at times, which is really scary as he's the villain of the story.

Wein highlights Alexander the Great as an inspiration to Veidt whose ambition and purpose convince him to attempt to unify the world, as well as lead him to incorporate Alexander memorabilia into his costume (the headband, gauntlets). But when it comes to the costume itself, Wein loses his inspiration as he has Veidt pick it out purely because it was in his wardrobe, an old Halloween costume. Oh. That's... dull. Even the creation of his pet lynx, Bubastis, when revealed is unremarkable. The reaction isn't "wow, so THAT'S how it happened", it's more, "Oh. Ok. Moving on".

And while I thought Veidt's background was entertaining enough, I wondered why it had to be told. His youthful travels learning martial arts, other cultures, and history, his domination of the business world thanks to his formidable intellect, reading every sci-fi novel ever written to concoct his insane plan - these are all blanks that didn't need to be explicitly filled in by the writer; the reader does this when reading Watchmen. I enjoyed the story but at six issues, it's really stretched thin - really, it could've worked equally, if not better, as an extra-long one-shot.

The highlight of the Ozymandias mini-series is Jae Lee's amazing art. It's almost cliché to praise Lee's artwork when discussing a book he's worked on but it really is stunning and his work here is first class. Eye-catching, bold, haunting and gothic, Lee elevates Wein's script into something more exciting and memorable. Like other artists whose style is painted and realistic (think Alex Ross), his figures can seem a bit static and posed, but the otherworldly, dream-like appearance of Lee's work negates such impressions.

We now come to the worst part of the book by far: Crimson Corsair. Set in the 18th century, an English sailor called Gordon McLachlan drowns after the Spanish sink his ship. He's saved by the Crimson Corsair, captain of the ghost ship The Flying Dutchman, who steals his soul. To get it back he must retrieve a series of odd objects.

I think the only reason why this series was done at all is because the original Watchmen had a pirate story in it so DC decided that, while they were spinning off as much as they could from Watchmen, they may as well have a pirate story of their own. Except the original Tales of the Black Freighter was conceived as a meta story that reflected the events in Watchmen, which is why it worked. Crimson Corsair doesn't do anything - it's just an immensely tedious supernatural pirate story that has no place anywhere.

To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the Black Freighter parts of Watchmen - besides the prose chapters, it was the worst part of the book. Written in this hideous purple prose of 19th century adventure novels, Black Freighter was near-unreadable, which is at least one quality it shares with Crimson Corsair which mimics this writing style. But while Black Freighter had amazing EC Comics-like art going for it, Crimson Corsair doesn't. It's art isn't terrible but it's very bland and indistinctive.

What makes it even worse is that the story is divided up into 2-page "chapters" so that the writers are constantly having to reiterate at the start what happened 2 pages ago. It might've been more bearable reading it in the monthlies where these appeared as backups across numerous titles but collected in one continuous story? It reads like the awful, headache-inducing rot that it is.

Dollar Bill, a one-shot about Bill Brady, a good looking but out of work actor who becomes a bank's superhero mascot, isn't bad but I don't know why there needed to be a Dollar Bill comic. He barely featured in the original Watchmen - he was a punch line, a costume who got killed when his cape was caught in a bank's revolving door allowing the robbers to shoot him. But it's not a bad note to end on even if Dollar Bill steadfastly remains an uninteresting character and it's definitely a palate-cleanser after the Crimson Corsair rubbish. Steve Rude's artwork is really good, drawn in a Golden Age style that captures the tone of the story.

Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair is worth a read if only for the Ozymandias part - I'd skip Crimson Corsair entirely - but don't expect much more insight into Ozymandias's character than what we got in the original Watchmen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you didn't want to know the ending, then you shouldn't have read Watchmen, 10 Jan 2014
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The stories from the mini-series Ozymandias (6 issues) and Dollar Bill (1 issue) are collected, along with the Crimson Corsair back-ups from the various mini-series, as Before Watchmen: Ozymandias / Crimson Corsair HC. These stories, set (obviously) before the events of the 25 year-old Watchmen TP International Edition mini-series slot flawlessly into the continuity. I have now read all of the collected editions so far, and though two of the three volumes have contained superbly scripted stories, with excellent artwork, this collection somehow didn't work for me at all. However, all the stories have managed to capture the feel of the original, add depth to the back-stories, and contribute their own twists to the overall plot, while being excellent, occasionally brilliant, stories in their own right.

OZYMANDIAS
This is a straightforward life story of Adrian Veidt, from birth to the moment he kicks in the [spoiler]'s apartment door... [just in case you haven't read the original story]. The artwork appears [to me] to be in the style of the 1930s magazine and Sunday-page illustrators, giving it a strange [in a good way] distanced feel from the original series and retro-stories. However, the character is not quite there - or is, and I'm not getting it. Veidt is not a hero. He may be the world's smartest man, but he is not fighting crime for any moral purpose, it appears to just be for exercise. I have to say, after reading the Doctor Manhattan series, I was hoping for an in-depth study of his plotting, but it just drifts past as just part of the background. It is a good enough story, as far as art and scripting goes, but good enough is not good enough here.

DOLLAR BILL
This is a single-issue story of the hero who died. It is an excellent story, with superb characterisation, and slots in well with the Minutemen series.

CRIMSON CORSAIR
This is an almost unreadable horror/pirate comic, in tribute to the serial from the original Watchmen series, but fails to work for me, as I have little interest in supernatural/ horror stories - despite being a Doctor Strange fan. The historical errors in the opening episodes didn't help, either. Fans of 1950s-style horror comics may appreciate it more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One for fans only, 26 July 2014
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This edition doesn't have quite the impact of 'Minutemen' or 'Nite Owl', but is still an interesting read for fans of Watchmen. 'Ozymandias' is basically told in autobiographical form and - disappointingly - doesn't really add much to what we already know about the character from 'Watchmen', mainly because Veidt generously expands on his past in the original story. This story just fills in a few blanks, mostly incidental, although it emphasises much more just how ruthless the man is, and how much of himself he is sacrificing, and there's some interesting subtext to look for in repeat readings.
The story itself - a linear recount - leaves little room for suspense, however, and most damningly is the decision to (twice) recycle scenes from Moore's original wholesale, without any additional internal dialogue or narration, or even much deviation from the original art.

'Crimson Corsair' is a tribute to the 'Tales from the black freighter' sub-story from the original Watchmen. However, whilst the original was intercut with the main story, emphasising it's use in the subtext of the story, reading Crimson Corsair as a standalone story has less impact. However it's a well illustrated tale of what happens when the good intentions of a hero lead to damnation, but what was jarring was the faux-antique prose of the narration and the spoken dialogue, which might as well have been straight out of the mouth of a modern action-hero.

Overall this book is not essential reading, but a worthwhile curiosity for fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked the Pirates & Dollar Bill's One-Shot, 23 Aug 2013
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The Ozymandias story really didn't turn my crank as I don't like the character and this did nothing to make me enjoy disliking him, as with some villains. The story however is very dark and gives some good insight into the background of the character from his boyhood onwards and how he became a self-made billionaire, his self-imposed God complex and his desire to save the world from itself, but also himself first and foremost. Lots of cross-over with the other characters who've been spotlighted especially Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian. I found the art more modern, rather than having the eighties feel of the other volumes I've read, which didn't stop me from enjoying it though. Next up is the Curse of the Crimson Corsair which upon first view one knows something is entirely different about this story. It can be read online for free at the publisher's website. I had no clue why a ghostly pirate story that had nothing to do with the Watchmen was included here until I realized this was an homage to the "Tales of the Black Freighter" story which ran inside the Watchmen as a story within a story. A totally unrelated story but a completely satisfying pirate ghost ship cum Davy Jones' Locker tale. Even if the ending was a bit rushed. And finally stuck onto the end is a one-shot background story of Dollar Bill. He's a very minor character and I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy this tale of his background and sad demise.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before Watchmen, 1 Sep 2013
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Really explains things that have happened in WATCHMEN more clearly; brilliant writing; excellent art work. I have all four books now!.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 7 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair (Kindle Edition)
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