In the latest of Digital Spy's comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' Before Watchmen prequels, we take a look at Comedian #4.
Who's it by?
Before Watchmen: Comedian #4 is written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by J.G. Jones. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair back-up is written and drawn by original series colourist John Higgins.
Eddie Blake's Vietnam War days remain the focus of the series, with the government-sanctioned anti-hero growing increasingly disillusioned with the conflict. Readers are given further insight into the events that shaped Blake from costumed crime fighter to cynical government assassin as he takes part in a drug-fuelled massacre and raises a metaphorical middle finger to the US war effort.
What's the verdict?
DC Comics appears to have over-egged this particular pudding by making Comedian a six-issue series. Issue #4 does very little to advance the story, containing nothing beyond filler from cover to cover.
Writer Brian Azzarello's take on the character has proven controversial with fans, depicting Eddie Blake as something of a rogue with redeeming features, who was twisted and broken by the horrors of armed conflict. Some would call this a complete misinterpretation, pointing out that Blake is something far more complex. And they would be right.
Azzarello is a good writer, that isn't up for debate. This comes across in the creative wordplay he employs throughout the issue, but the story he is telling here is little more than a generic war tale, and one that has slowed to a crawl of late at that.
Issue #4 does its bit to conjure the Zeitgeist of the era in which it's set, with constant references to iconic 1960s tunes and images of soldiers dropping acid, yet much of it feels like padding to draw the series out over the commissioned six issues.
Artist J.G. Jones's illustrations are strong enough for the most part, even if his panel layouts are bland. The use of colour is very impressive, with lavish helpings of orange, red and purple hues setting the scene nicely and giving the comic some much-needed flare.
Four issues in, Comedian feels like it is running out of steam. It hasn't been the strongest of the Before Watchmen lineup from the off, and with just two chapters remaining, Azzarello and Jones will have to come up with something special to prevent Comedian from becoming little more than a bad joke.
> Buy the digital version of 'Before Watchmen: Comedian' #4
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4'
> Read our 'Before Watchmen' interview with Dan DiDio
Watch a trailer for Before Watchmen below: