DC Comics releases what I consider to be the best of the controversial prequels to one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time with “Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition.” The hardcover collection contains issues 1 through 6 of Before Watchmen: Ozymandias, the entire run of Crimson Corsair stories, and the Dollar Bill one-shot. The Crimson Corsair storyline spread out across several of the different Before Watchmen titles.
The real highlight of the “Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition” is Adrian Veidt’s backstory. “Watchmen” editor Len Wein takes a character I found to be the least interesting in the original graphic novel and completely change my mind about him. When the entire prequel event came to a close, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias reigned supreme as my favorite title. Wein digs so deep into the character’s psyche and gives the reader an insight into how a man’s ego can drive him to commit unspeakable acts while believing he is an agent of justice and morality.
Jae Lee’s art for Before Watchmen: Ozymandias is definitely one of the winning factors of the book for me. His work is so distinctive and unique that one can’t help but appreciate it. I’ve never seen such a bizarre mix of artistic styles. Imagine taking a classic Norman Rockwell painting and blending it with the precision and detail of Jim Lee. Words cannot describe how much I admire Jae’s illustrations and talent.
Len Wein and John Higgins handle the writing for “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair.” It’s an interesting pirate tale which shows one man’s descent into madness and his epic journey alongside some of the most ruthless buccaneers to sail the high seas. It’s nice to have all the segments together in one book. Things tend to get confusing when you read two pages of a story from week to week.
The artwork for The Curse of the Crimson Corsair matches that of Tales of the Black Freighter. John Higgins brings to life the maddening visions of lead character Gordon McClachlan and the violent actions of the pirates as they journey in search of treasure. Higgins’ use of supernatural imagery adds depth and a shot of horror to the tale that should make genre fans giddy.
The Dollar Bill one-shot is one of my favorite titles of the entire Before Watchmen event as well. Len Wein pens a compact and entertaining little backstory for this reluctant and tragic hero. It’s amazing how much detail Wein fits into 32 pages of a comic book.
Steve Rude provides art for the Dollar Bill one-shot. His work accurately mimics that of the Golden Age artists. It perfectly captures the time-period the book is supposed to take place in both in style and even coloring, as strange as that might sound.
Thirteen pages of bonus material are included in “Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition.” It features variant covers for both the Ozymandias and Dollar Bill issues by Jim Lee, Phil Jimenez, Phil Noto, Jill Thompson, Darwyne Cooke, and others. There are Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair character sketches and artwork contained in it as well.
“Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition” is rated M for mature readers. The book features violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. I’ve voiced my protest of the nudity in my past reviews of Before Watchmen books and will leave it at that. I don’t want to start sounding like a broken record.
There’s no better place to introduce yourself to the world of Before Watchmen than this book. “Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition” features two of the best titles in the entire event. The backstories for Adrian Veidt and William Benjamin Brady are compelling and keep readers engaged. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair is a thrilling addition to an already satisfying collection of Watchmen lore.
“Before Watchmen: Ozymandias /Crimson Corsair Deluxe Edition” is available now in hardcover and Kindle editions.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Graphic Novel Review: “Before Watchmen: Comedian / Rorschach Deluxe Edition”
Graphic Novel Review: “Before Watchmen: Minutemen / Silk Spectre Deluxe Edition”
Top Four “Before Watchmen” Titles