The Before Watchmen line generated a lot of controversy when it was announced, but at this point, honestly, I think the main reaction is apathy. Two of the books have been great, 2 have been good (ish) and 2 have been very bad. I haven't heard anyone raving about any of them, but I also haven't heard anyone claiming they're the worst thing to happen to comics. I think this makes me happy?
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 2 - As far as Nite Owl progressed from book 1 to 2, this book has done the same. The only exception is that this book was head and shoulders above Nite Owl when it debuted. Jae Lee is a true professional when it comes to artistry, and every single page of this issue feels intentional. Len Wein's writing didn't bother me the way it did last issue, either, which was a great boon. We get to see more of the Adrian Veidt that we've come to know from the main Watchmen series and he is an amazing character. The layout of the pages reflects the original book, too, which really ties in with the carefully orchestrated nature of Veidt's character. His beginning is, of course, much more prodigious than we've come to expect from a super hero's origin, but that's to be expected as well. In fact, three quarters of the way through the issue, I was starting to feel a little doubt creep in. Was it all going to be this easy? But then, perfectly, we get the last page surprise, which is magnificent. Comedian really is tying all these books together, huh? I mean, it's funny, Rorshach is probably who most people think of as the quote-unquote main character of Watchmen, but at this point, Eddie Blake is winning the Before Watchmen protagonist award. And I'm excited for how he's going to improve this series.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 12 - Well, that was disappointing. I thought, after the new direction of the previous issue, that this series was going to pick up. But if you didn't see every single aspect of this issue telegraphed ten pages in advance, I don't think you've read enough comic books. (Or watched enough Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.) It's not that it was bad, it's just that there wasn't anything compelling about it. I'm used to being compelled when it comes to Buffy, but pretty much everything else in the Buffy-verse is taking that place. Spike, Angel, Faith, even Connor are more compelling than Buffy's story right now, which feels directionless. She's got the new job, which I thought was going to be a positive direction, but it's back to the flip-flopping bad guy, and a change of hear that everyone, but most especially Buffy, should have seen coming. It's back to explaining season 8 as a necessary evil, which I'm not sure it was - evil, that is. Season 9 just feels especially adrift right now, and I know that previous seasons have waited quite a while before introducing the Big Bad (and sometimes have gone the sneaky route and revealed it to be someone who's been around for a while) so I'm still placing faith in Joss' direction. But it's just not the shining diamond that it once was.
Spider-Men 4 - This issue honestly made me tear up. I've given up on Amazing Spider-Man because of my disgust with the revamp that wasn't a revamp, not because of some silly protest over deals with the devil or bad writing, because we've dealt with all those things in comics before. But getting rid of Peter's marriage to MJ and saying that things were reset when they kind of were, but kind of weren't? I couldn't stand that. (Much like the poorly thought out plan in the DCnU.) And in this issue? We get to see Peter seeing Gwen Stacy and Aunt May again (different versions, sure, but...) and those two seeing him again, after their version of him died. It was incredible. Those are the sorts of emotions that I read comics for, and that I regularly expect from the Spider-Man brand. Miles' presence in the issue doesn't feel forced or alienating in any way, either. He's perfect. The inclusion of MJ felt a bit stranger, as did her bizarre new appearance, but I certainly didn't mind it. Fury's talks with Peter are a consistent highlight in this book.
Book of the week goes to Before Watchmen. Despite the tears that Spider-Men brought, and the history that I have with Spidey (and Buffy), the level of professionalism that's present in Ozymandias feels like an aberration that truly needs to be pointed out. If only all comics were taken as seriously as this one has been.