Before Watchmen: Comedian #2 Review
By Andy Frisk
August 6, 2012 - 21:02
Publisher(s): DC Comics
Writer(s): Brian Azzarello
Penciller(s): J.G. Jones
Inker(s): J.G. Jones
Colourist(s): Alex Sinclair
Letterer(s): Clem Robbins
Cover Artist(s): J.G. Jones
So I think I figured out what Azzarello is up to here. I was pretty put off by his characterization of The Comedian in Before Watchmen: Comedian #1, especially since he made him a sort of surrogate brother to the Kennedy clan. He also absolved Blake/The Comedian of JFK's assassination, something that was pretty explicitly hinted that Blake was responsible for in the original text of Watchmen. I felt that Azzarello was adding too much of a redeeming, or decent, quality of character to Blake by having him be so close with JFK and RFK. Actually, what he's doing is debasing JFK and RFK by linking them to Blake. Apparently, whether Azzarello believes so or not, the Kennedy brothers were as deplorable characters as Blake is...at least in the Watchmen universe.
Actually, maybe the point is that Blake and his friends, as representatives of the American war hungry military industrial complex, are all horrible creatures and there's no redemption to be found anywhere in the pages of Before Watchmen: Comedian where these characters are concerned. We are to look for any sort of redeeming characters and qualities, historical or fictional, elsewhere. Silk Spectre and Nite Owl are both characters with redeeming qualities. In fact, at the end of Watchmen they really are the only ones left standing that are respectable at all, and their prequel books do have rays of hope in them. Everywhere one looks in Before Watchmen: Comedian though, there is corruption, evil, lack of concern for human life, and the kind of base callousness that is almost (almost...I say) impossible to imagine.
The fact that Blake is made to be the individual who is responsible for the escalation of the Vietnam conflict by actually piloting the gun boat that attacks the US Naval ships in the Gulf of Tonkin is despicable enough, and damning enough metaphorically and allegorically of the US military industrial complex, but Blake also collaborates with drug runners in Southeast Asia, hangs with RFK at a fixed Muhammad Ali fight (thus removing all credible social relevance to this fictional version of Ali), and kills up close and personally, as one only can with a combat knife, while grinning widely...and all this takes place before he murders the pregnant Vietnamese woman (whose baby he is the father of) in cold blood in the pages of Watchmen. Yeah, Azzarello holds nothing back.
Neither does artist J.G. Jones. His work has always amazed me with its attention to detail and ability to capture a scene masterfully, and at times disturbingly. He brings RFK, Ali, the historical time period, and the exotic locale of Vietnam and Southeast Asia to brilliantly realistic life. The violence and horror of Blake's actions are sublimely horrific, here much more so than in the original Watchmen, at least visually.
There is no hope, redeeming quality, or anything positive about the human race, its institutions and its immorally motivated men of power in Before Watchmen: Comedian. Once you figure out that that's the point here, it's much easier to sit back and enjoy the debauched ride.
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