Folks that know me will probably assume that I'm predisposed to disliking this thing, and I'm certainly on Alan Moore's beardy, curmudgeonly side on this fight as the original is one of my favourite books of all time, but I am determined to judge this for what it is. Unfortunately, for me at this stage, that's not a hell of a lot.
I'll share my thoughts (and gripes)... after the jump!
From the pretentious narration of the opening (even though a character acknowledges it's pretentious, doesn't mean you get away with it), to the clunky exposition and lack of anything happening, there's zero story or drive here to provide any sort of hook. Which is not to say that it's worse than any standard comic fare out there, in fact maybe it's even a little better - but it's in no way up to the standard of Moore and Gibbon's Watchmen. And if you're going to bother doing this then it absolutely has to be.
In these five pages we learn that Hollis Mason is writing a book. Which we already knew. And he talks to his dog.
Now please dredge out your old copies of Watchmen. Look at the pacing, the staging, the colours and the atmosphere of the original. Read the instantly memorable lines.
I remember buying and reading Watchmen and not being able to put it down. It completely blew me away and it continues to do so. Everything happens for a reason. There is no wasted space.
Meanwhile, in the first issue of Before Watchmen, Hollis tells clumsy exposition to his dog. I have no idea what the story is going about and absolutely nothing spurs me on to find out what happens next. Moore and Gibbons tell us more in one page than five of Cooke's.
I'm actually rather taken aback by how bland this is. And it's not like I even wanted to see it fail - I love reading good comics and if someone could blind-side me like Moore and Gibbons did all those years ago and hook me into their story then I would be absolutely thrilled. I want someone to recreate the buzz of Watchmen. But do it right, and get that buzz going straight away.
Now, I know this is only the first five pages and the whole thing could still could be fantastic, but these first five pages really needed to draw me in to restore my faith in the project. They should have been a completely killer five pages that opened up a world of possibilities and engaged me instantly, just like the original. This is Watchmen - not Nightwing #37. Cooke should have ripped off his shirt, stood on his chair, and bellowed, "I NEED TO MAKE THESE FIVE PAGES THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE. THEY NEED TO TELL A STORY WHICH IS INSTANTLY UNMISSABLE!" I wish he had surprised me.