Dr. Manhattan takes a quantum leap through a life that never was…
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2
In a normal review, this first paragraph would generally sum up the issue. It’s not so easy with this book. Dr. Manhattan is one of those comics that will either get you thinking or will immediately turn you off. The main gist of this series is that the doc has decided to take a little trip down memory lane. Much like the amazing fourth issue of the original Watchmen in which he recounts pieces of his former life and what he eventually became, he goes back to the place in which everything changed. However, much to his surprise and (possibly) terror, instead of seeing himself die and be reborn as a next level being, he watches his former self, Jon Osterman escape his fate.
From this point, he watches like a fly on the wall as Osterman carries on with his life as if nothing ever happened. He marries Janey. His life is filled with happiness and none of the shakeups that occurred once he met Laurie at the first meeting of the Crimebusters. But like Schrodinger’s Cat, the quantum realities are split. In situations where he’s left with two choices, two different worlds unfold. One in which the the Cuban Missile Crisis turns into the end of the world. One in which events seen in Watchmen play out just without him involved and so on.
There’s a movie that I both love to watch and hate to watch at the same time. If you’re at all interested in time traveling and alternate reality stories, and you’ve seen Donnie Darko, you’ll know why it’s both a great experience and one that can drive the viewer mad. I find myself always drawn to watch the director’s cut version of the movie, but immediately regret it afterward as any hope of turning off my brain and going to sleep afterwards is tossed out the window. I can’t help but try to connect the dots and put the pieces together to figure out exactly what the possible cause of the tangent universe Donnie experiences is and find all the places where the realities cross and collapse on one another. I could go on for hours thinking and talking about this, but it helps explain what it is about this book I’ve found myself suddenly falling in love with.
This book is a complete head trip. There’s no denying it. Coming from J. Michael Straczynski, who isn’t exactly a writer known for throwing this many layers at you (though he is a very capable writer), you’re not quite prepared for the extremely high level of thought this book requires. It’s a truly neat experience to read.
As for Adam Hughes’ art, it’s amazing. I rarely like to focus on covers as most covers, though usually able to suck me in if they are well drawn or different enough, usually don’t have much bearing on what’s on the inside. I’ve almost learned to program myself to just open the book and dive right in regardless of what’s on the cover. This is a completely different story. The 50′s sci-fi style cover is spectacular. There’s a raw cool to it with a mysterious, alien-like hero standing over the sexy space explorer who’s clinging to his leg is such an iconic type of image that George Lucas used it in the original Star Wars poster art. For this cover to also actually play a part in the wild reality jumping of the story is perfect as well. The interior, though not quite as striking as what could quite possibly be one of the greatest covers of the year, is still beautiful. It’s bold and sexy, but draws you in just as much as JMS’ script does.
Frankly it’s just as much of a Schrodinger’s Cat as the actual quantum physics theory posits.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Mind bending but beautiful and extremely well written. Perhaps the best of all the Before Watchmen single issues to date.||Tiny historical inaccuracy about the unprecedented third term for Richard Nixon. Aside from that a perfect issue.|