STORY: Brian Azzarello
ART: JG Jones
|Again with the silly cover! What is that trail of blood on a sandy path?
With it’s rag-tag artwork, silly period piece dialogue, and obtuse symbolism, Comedian #1 is my least favorite issue of Before Watchmen, by far. That being said, this month’s issue in Eddie Blake’s life is better. Of course, this just means it isn’t god-awfully terrible. Instead, Brian Azzarello pens an issue that’s just feels unnecessary and boring.
Comedian #2 takes place exclusively in Vietnam, a fact that becomes more and more grating each time Azzarello’s characters feel the need to spell out the controversial nature of the war, which happens roughly every other page. Yes, we readers know that the Vietnam “conflict”was a terrible, horrible situation – this information doesn’t need to be beaten into our heads because we already understand. It’s as if Azzarello doesn’t know that students learn about the Vietnam War (however sparsely) at least once during their education.
Overall, this issue just seems like filler. A lot of talking goes on, and Blake kills a Vietnamese soldier with no regard for decency. I’m a pacifist, so it’s hard to watch a psychotic killer like Eddie Blake murder a (somewhat) defenseless man in cold blood. The fact that this scene churned by insides proves that, at least a little, Azzarello’s attempts to convey the mood and temper of the Vietnamese jungle are paying off. Azzarello also hits on the drug trade that was supposedly operational in order to fund a war that wasn’t actually a war. In excrutiating detail, a handful of officers discusses the full scope of the situation and how to better raise money by getting more American citizens hooked on drugs. It’s a very odd conversation, one that feels too ‘matter of fact’ to have actually taken place in real life. I’m sure it did, and I hope the actual talk didn’t sound as redundant or condescending as this one does.
One of the biggest complaints I had last month was that Azzarello was trying to make Eddie Black relatable – a majority of the issue was dedicated to showing how Blake became a strong family friend for the Kennedys. The biggest improvement in Comedian #2 is how much of a douche bag Eddie has become. He talks about war like it’s a pissing contest, and he slaughters without remorse. There’s still that opening scene with Eddie and Bobby Kennedy at a Muhammed Ali fight, but even there, Blake is a stoic asshole who only sees things in black and white. America = Good. Vietnam = Bad.
While this shift in Eddie’s behavior definitely gives this issue a whole lot more credence than the previous, Azzarello still can’t figure out how to fix this series biggest problem: it’s necessity. Did anyone really want a six-issue series detailing the horrid actions of the Comedian during the 1960s and 70s? Wasn’t it enough to know he was a huge dick? Wasn’t that part of what made the character so great? If Azzarello continues to change retcon – like he did last month when it was ‘revealed’ that Eddie never shot JFK – and take us down a path of pointless darkness and machination, this series is going to burn out much faster than it’s release schedule.