One of the prequel series to Watchmen.

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists:Andy Kubert, Adam Hughes, Eduardo Risso
Publisher: DC
Publication year: 2012

Collects issues 1-4 of Nite Owl, 1-4 of Dr. Manhattan, and 1-2 of Moloch.

So far, I’ve liked this collection the best. In all three stories we get to see the back stories of the characters which expanded them further.

The Nite Owl story starts with young Daniel Drieberg who idolizes the Nite Owl. Dan is abused both at home and at school but he gets strength from seeing who the Nite Owl never gives up but gets back up even when he’s been knocked down by some robbers. Dan tracks him down and quite easily finds out his real identity. Once the Nite Owl, Hollis, realizes that Dan is just an enthusiastic boy who wants to become his sidekick, he starts to train Dan. Then Hollis declares that he’s retiring and leaves the Nite Owl to Dan. When Dan is working as Nite Owl, Rorschach offers to become his partner.

From the second issue onwards, the story focuses on their teamwork. They have very different backgrounds but they’ve both been traumatized in some ways and sometimes it’s not easy for them to work together. In this story, they are searching a man who kills prostitutes. The police isn’t interested in finding him and Rorschach has his own issues, too. Nite Owl runs into a high-class prostitute and is very attracted to her. She starts to help him with the case which, of course, leads into sex and romance.

This really fleshed out Dan’s character. I remember wondering why Dan would work with a psychopath like Rorschach but here we see them before Rorschach really snaps. Andy Kubert’s classic superhero style art fits the story well. Unfortunately, nothing about the story is remarkable or unique. Dan’s background is pretty average, too.

In Watchmen, we got to know how Dr. Manhattan got his powers through the accident. Here, we get to see the events leading to that. The story starts with him on Mars, thinking about his past and wondering why he’s never gone to the moment of accident or further into the past. So he does so and discovers something really strange.

The story explores his childhood, and we also get to see some alternate histories which I found really interesting. I’ve been a fan of Adam Hughes’ work ever since he was Wonder Woman’s artist. Now granted, his women look all pretty much the same, but otherwise I love it.

Dr. Manhattan’s story rehashes pretty much all of the major events in Watchmen, but from a somewhat different perspective. Both of the stories include the scene where the heroes gather in the “Crime Busters” meeting. That scene is really popular with all of the writers. Not a complaint, just an observation.

The Moloch story fleshes out the super villain. While his home wasn’t an abusive one, he looked strange and was tormented over it mercilessly at school. (Well, I guess balanced, happy people aren’t going to run around as either heroes or villains.) We get to see his crime career and later involvement with Ozymandias. Again his background is pretty average but I enjoyed the latter half of the story a lot.