First Impressions: Hit-Girl, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl
- June 28th, 2012
- Posted in Comics You Should Be Reading . First Impressions . Reviews
- By Rob
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TITLE: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1
AUTHORS: J. Michael Stracynski, Len Wein
PENCILLERS: Andy Kubert, John Higgins
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASED: June 27, 2012
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Full disclosure: I’m still mad at J. Michael Stracynski for bailing on Superman and Wonder Woman awhile back so that he could be the umpteenth writer to rehash the Man of Steel’s origin with the exceedingly mediocre Superman: Earth One. His take on Nite Owl isn’t anger inducing, but it’s not quite on par with Darwyn Cooke’s work on Minutemen and Silk Spectre. Having seen this issue, and the Comedian issue, I’m starting to wonder if DC should have just let Cooke write the whole damn thing. His work has been the best this line has produced thus far.
This issue gives us a look at Dan Dreiberg’s backstory. We see that he had an abusive father, who ridicules his fascination with the superhero Nite Owl. We then learn how Dan inserts himself into the world of the real-life Hollis Mason, and how they take on a master-apprentice relationship. The issue also shows us his first night out as the new Nite Owl, and his first encounters with Rorschach and the Silk Spectre.
From a storytelling standpoint, this book is pretty solid. Giving Dreiberg an emotionally domineering father explains how he became such a soft spoken adult, despite being a friggin superhero genuis. It also gives him a commonality with Rorschach, whether the two characters know it or not.
Ah yes, Rorschach. This issue marks the first time in Before Watchmen that we spend any time with him. I’m conflicted on what Stracynski does with him. When we see the characters meet for the first time, one of the first things Rorschach does is mention how among all Nite Owl’s gadgets, the one thing he doesn’t have is someone to watch his back. He’s obviously volunteering himself for the role. This struck me as odd, given what a natural loner Rorschach is. PI co-founder Eric floated the idea that this was simply Rorschach forcing his will on Nite Owl, as he often did to characters in Watchmen. But it struck me as odd that he’d so anxiously toss the idea out.
Nite Owl also has a pair of cheesy lines in this issue, both of which revolve around his first meeting with the Silk Spectre, his love interest from Watchmen:
- ” –I just had this feeling, when I saw her…I got chills.”
- “I just felt the strangest sense of connection to her…like we were fated to be together…”
Really? We’re playing the fate card? That’s not as bad as the unnecessary Comedian/Moloch connection we saw from Brian Azzarello and J.G. Jones last week. But this kind of foreshadowing does seem to fall under the “unnecessary, unneeded, cliche stuff we see in prequels” category. We already know Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk end up together. There was no need to wink at the audience about it, especially with something as cheesy as “we were fated to be together.”
If you’re a fan of Andy Kubert’s, then this issue will give you new respect for what an inker can contribute to a comic book. Andy is backed up by his father, the great Joe Kubert, whose presence really makes a difference in the artistic presentation. His inks are a strong selling point for this book.
That being said, I’m torn on whether I want to come back for more. Thus far, the only one I’m definitely picking up again is Minutemen, with Silk Spectre a likely addition. Nite Owl is in the maybe column. But hey, that’s a better place than where Comedian ended up. That one’s a definite no.
Yeesh. Look at that tag line. Millar wasted no time being crass this time around.
Actually, Hit-Girl #1 isn’t too bad on that front, which is ironic considering she’s definitely one of the more violent and vulgar characters to come out of the Millarverse. Our story takes place between Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, and sees Mindy Macready trying to adjust to life as an average girl. Indeed, the murderous 10-year-old vigilante who’s been trained in various manners of combat and escape, and has spilled the blood of more crooks and mobsters than she can likely remember, is having trouble dealing with snotty pre-teen girls. That’s actually kind of cute in a weird way, isn’t it? All the while, Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass are planning their next move against the mob. But they’d best not forget about their old enemy Red Mist.
For the most part, this issue is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It’s this character whose young life up to this point has consisted of mostly violence and mayhem, trying to get used to things as simple as being around kids her own age. Something tells me that we’re going to see Mindy put at least one Kardashian wannabe in her place in this story. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to put an obnoxious pre-teen girl in her place at least once in their life? For me, it’s actually been several times.
One source of confusion for me in this issue was exactly how old Mindy is. This character is supposed to be 10 or 11 years old, right? If that’s the case, then the top left panel in the accompanying interior page seems off. In that image she looks like she might be seven or eight. I suppose she might be a little short for her age, but it’s still confusing. Then later we see a scene where she’s sitting at a school lunch table with Dave, a.k.a. Kick-Ass. Dave is supposed to be between 16 and 17. Is one of them visiting the other at school? Does this school teach both elementary and high school? It doesn’t make or break the story, but it’s a head-scratcher.
Other than that, no major complaints with Hit-Girl. I’m sure this story is destined to become yet another bloody, brutal Millar massacre. But in Hit-Girl, we have a truly unique character that has an undeniable charm about her. That’ll be the key to the success of this story, regardless of how much blood she spills.
Front page image and interior image 1 from author’s collection. Interior image 2 from ifanboy.com.