J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes revisit the life of Jon Osterman with an unexpected twist in Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1.
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1
Dr. Manhattan watches a funeral to begin the discussion of quantum physics and how the observed is affected by the observed. This launches into Dr. Manhattan doing more of his reflection on his life on Mars. After realizing that many moments of his life felt like deja vu when he originally experienced them, he realized that he could travel down the streams of time to view moments of his life again. However, when he revisits the moment that he was molecularly dispersed leading to him becoming Dr. Manhattan, this time, the result of that moment in his life changes in ways he cannot understand.
On the surface, you have to wonder why an attempt to add to what’s perhaps the most amazing of all the issues of the Watchmen is made. The way in which Dr. Manhattan remembers the more important moments of his life and the reader gets a full idea of the depth in which he is able to view time is so masterfully written. Right away, I asked, “Why?” However, when the story unfolds a bit more, a new understanding arose and I began looking at the story from a completely different angle.
Where this story succeeds on several levels isn’t how much it borrows from the original, but the way it is causes you to think of all those tiny little moments that pass you by in which the choices made affect the physical world in which you inhabit. The idea of how things unseen could be anything and everything until you actually lies on it is so simple in one way, but also a fundamental building block in the understanding of quantum physics. Another way to put it is that within the unknown, possibilities are unlimited.
Once you realize that is the main theme of this story, suddenly things kind of open up for the surprise conclusion in which Jon Osterman is able to go into the test vault, get his coat and walk out unscathed. Instead of going back to the moment to observe what went wrong to create what he became, Dr. Manhattan enters a different reality. Whether that is a fantasy or not is yet to be seen, but what changes on the world will this different outcome have? Where it really gets my mind going is what if this entire Before Watchmen event is just one of the multiple parallels that became its own thread of reality separate from everything we ever knew before? It’s a stretch, but it opens up a can of worms to think about and discuss. If nothing else, it’s kind of fun to look at that being a possibility. This series was released last too… I don’t know, I’m just trying to build my case here, people.
Adam Hughes brings his usual great work with him on the book. You can stare at the cover for hours, but as you open the book, every panel is rich and stands out. I’ve always loved how Hughes uses the heavy dark lines around figures or faces. It makes the images pop and draws your eyes to things as if those things are moving or breathing. Hughes has always had such a unique way to make two two-dimensional images on top of each other look three-dimensional. Add to that, the Mistress of Color, Laura Martin, and this issue just shines visually.
While this book does fall back on the things that have frustrated me in some ways with this entire event, there’s enough of a twist at the end that tells me things might just get really interesting really soon. And if nothing else, I’ll definitely keep coming back for that beautiful art.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Gets the mind working. Fantastically illustrated and colored. Nice twist at the end.||Still relies a bit too much on things we’ve seen before in the original.|