Comics: Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 Review

Last week, while writing my review for Before Watchmen: Rorschach, I was trying to think about who my favorite character from Watchmen would be. It’s hard to think of one that is a redeemable person, but also really cool as far as characters go. Rorschach is the fan favorite easily, I enjoy him enough, but I find that the one I think I enjoy the most from the series is Dr. Manhattan. While the other characters are all similar reflections of heroes we’ve seen before, I think it’s the very complex nature of Dr. Manhattan and his interpretation of the world that makes him all the more unique to read.
 
J. Michael Straczynski writes the Manhattan comic and he attempts to keep the philosophical mindset of the character in check within the original confines of the character, to some extent. Much of the point in doing these Watchmen prequels is to expand on the characters and show how they got where they are in the original text, though many of them cover similar ground to what is shown in Watchmen so it’s slightly redundant. But Straczynski turns this comic into a philosophical jungle with no sign of a proper exit.
 
It isn’t until the final four pages of the comic that we start to see anything here that hasn’t been presented in any of the other prequels or the original Watchmen and at that point we’re presented with a plot for the mini-series that not only doesn’t align itself at all with the original story, but changes a major aspect of it’s plot. I understand the underlying theme for the Doctor Manhattan series, but it’s so bogged down with confusing exposition and story beats we’ve seen before that it’s a terribly boring read.
 
One really redeeming quality of the comic is Adam Hughes’ art. While there’s nothing overly spectacular about the way his art works, it is a highly polished look of the original Watchmen style. The facial close ups and spreads of Manhattan’s power at work are the most memorable visual sections, but it gets a little boring to look at pictures that are recreations of the original art, even though it looks more modern.
 
Now, if you’re like me and hate these ridiculous call back references to the original story planted within the ‘prequel’ story then this book will more annoy you than entertain you, and if for some reason you don’t know how Dr. Manhattan operates in Watchmen then this is a good introduction but there’s nothing of substance here that you haven’t read already.
 
Rating: 6 / 10