Before Watchmen: Moloch #2 (DC Comics)
by J. Michael Straczynski & Eduardo Risso
I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of this two-part series thanks to writer J. Michael Straczynski’s successful humanization of a seemingly inhuman criminal, but the conclusion of the series disappointed. The reason is clear: Straczynski tries to add to and arguably even alter the narrative of Watchmen here, as his plot catches up to the events of the mid-1980s series. It’s a significant misstep on his part. Before Watchmen generally works when it’s used to explore new stories featuring the classic characters from the source material, but mucking about with Alan Moore’s story is definitely the wrong way to go. In Watchmen, while Ozymandias was the villain, he was always portrayed as being distanced from humanity. Other people were inferior in his eyes, but not the enemy. Here, Ozymandias glares at Moloch with contempt. Furthermore, Straczynski’s additions don’t jibe with elements from the original plot. In Watchmen, Moloch is portrayed as living in squalor in a slum, but in the time leading up to his death, this story has him earning big bucks from his employer. This script supports the argument many made when Before Watchmen was originally announced that DC ought not tinker with Watchmen at all.