In the latest of Digital Spy's comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' Before Watchmen prequels, we take a look at Nite Owl #4.
Who's it by?
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #4 is written by J Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Andy Kubert and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Nite Owl's investigation into the prostitute murders comes to a head in an explosive conclusion that draws his partner Rorschach into the fray and may mark the end of their partnership.
Meanwhile, Dan Dreiberg is also forced to face up to his mentor Hollis Mason's revelation.
What's the verdict?
Nite Owl comes to a conclusion in this issue with a whimper that sadly echoes the tone of the series as a whole.
The best thing about this issue is far and above the art. Nite Owl #4 is the most beautiful and consistent of the miniseries, with the rough lines that occasionally cropped up in Kubert's earlier issues smoothed out. His faces are rich with character and the action flows smoothly and gracefully throughout.
Unfortunately, what is more apparent than at any time in the title is the marginalisation of its main character. Nite Owl drifts through this book with very little to do, and looking back on the events of this issue and the three before, his influence on events is minimal. Straczynski makes little effort to explore his character in this, being far more interested in Rorschach, the Twilight Lady and Hollis Mason.
Even then, the original Nite Owl's confession is frustratingly glossed over, and whether in reference to the forthcoming Minutemen #6 or just left deliberately mysterious, it feels frustrating and confusing rather than subtle or compelling. Similarly, the Twilight Lady's conclusion does not emerge satisfyingly from what came before.
As with the majority of the weaker 'Before Watchman' titles, Nite Owl has failed to add anything to the character. Dreiberg moved through the pages of this title doing and saying exactly what you would expect him to. Compared to the strength of other titles including Minutemen and Straczynski's own excellent Dr Manhattan, this feels like something to be forgotten.
Next time, we would rather see a series about Nite Owl's mum.
> Buy the digital version of Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #4
> Read our review of 'Before Watchmen: Nite Owl' #3
> Read our Before Watchmen interview with Dan DiDio
Watch a trailer for Before Watchmen below: