Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2

Following on from the first issue, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 offers a lot more focus on Nite Owl and Rorschach.

First up, the official description from DC:

“They run…I like it when they run.” And don’t miss the latest chapter of the CRIMSON CORSAIR backup epic from writer LEN WEIN and artist JOHN HIGGINS!

Following the origin-esque set up of the Before Watchmen series, Nite Owl #2 opens with an already established Nite Owl. The title doesn’t drag this out, instead we get treated to the personal developments of both Nite Owl and Rorschach as successful vigilantes.

The key success of Nite Owl #2 is the dialogue. The writing is very fluent. The language reads as spoken language should. There are little details, such as the brevity of conversations or the use of missing words that evokes atmosphere and character. Rorschach, in particular, comes across brilliantly in this issue. The character is deeply flawed and disturbed. His views on humanity offer vast amounts of insight into a troubled character. The brunt language used further suggests the anger hiding behind the mask.

Likewise, the flashbacks and various sequences weave throughout the issue. The flashbacks and sequences showing both Nite Owl and Rorschach’s upbringings and private life offer further depth. The narrative panels link in quotes from various scenes throughout the issue, offering an effective perspective of a mind in turmoil. Its a little touch that goes along way.

As with the last issue, the artwork is serviceable. In fact its good, but its never going to live up to the hype of a title such as Watchmen. The layout on the other hand, is much more structured. Its never going to be as organized as the original Watchmen, but the tighter layouts here suggest the same approach. In many of the sequences, the avoidance of large or splashy panels further helps; there’s a constant sense of the mundane within in the city. The simple paneling suggests repetition. The vigilante’s comments about everything happening further brings this element into the fold.

In short, its not Watchmen, but Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 is definitely creating a style and atmosphere on its own. At the heart of the series is the relationship and contrasts in view between Nite Owl and Rorschach. Throw in a few other interesting characters, and this series is shaping up for something exciting.

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