Before Watchmen may have been a controversial topic when it was announced, but now that the comics are actually being released the clamouring masses have died down a bit. Before Watchmen: Ozymandias is by Len Wein and Jae Lee, and it is the first of the Before Watchmen that really delves into the origins of a character without relying heavily on the pre-existing Watchmen universe. The mind of Adrian Alexander Veidt is an interesting and brilliant place, and this issue makes readers more sympathetic to the events that unfold in Moore’s classic series. It only makes sense to me to try to enhance the issue with some music!
Immediately upon beginning the issue, Jae Lee’s layouts manage to separate this book from the other Before Watchmen books. It has a unique feeling because the panels always focus on Veidt in a way that screams reverence, as though he is a self made demi-god who begs worship by virtue of his self-made success. The narrative style is dominated by inner monologue, as Veidt tries to outline the personal quest he undertook that led him to the goal of unifying humanity in a bid to avert a nuclear war. As the son of immigrants fleeing from Nazism in 1939, Adrian was always special. His intelligence drew a lot of attention and his father urged him to hide his brilliance for fear of reprisal. But he was always an outcast at school, and to get back at a couple bullies he decided to learn some martial arts. Listen to the song You’re the Best (by Joe Esposito), because Adrian is the best martial artist in the school yard, and also because the song was used in Karate Kid and it makes me think bullies getting their just desserts. Then again, Daniel La Russo never blew up someone’s knee with a side kick.
From then on, Adrian vowed to never hide his brilliance, as his father had to buy the school a new library in order to avoid his expulsion. Since this isn’t fair, and since Adrian was justified, he goes into full blown beast mode and ends up taking post-graduate courses at Harvard by the age of 17. His area of research: majoring in the life of his namesake Alexander of Macedonia. Unfortunately for Veidt, his parents die in a car accident. Pantera has a song called Cemetery Gates, now would be a good time to blare that throughout your domicile. This is a Batman-esque moment for Veidt, as he can now live a life of luxury with his inheritance, and potentially use the money on whatever he chooses.
Veidt chooses a different route than just living comfortably off of his inheritance. He decides to measure his success against that of Alexander the Great, donate all of his money to several worthwhile charities, and set off on a journey to retrace his hero’s steps. Listen to the song Alexander the Great (by Iron Maiden), it’s basically a heavy metal history lesson. If Iron Maiden had been around when Adrian Veidt was all mopey and backpacking through Europe and Asia, maybe he wouldn’t have teleported a genetically-engineered monster into Manhattan, causing a psychic shockwave to kill millions and convince the world that they were under extraterrestrial attack. Ah, the healing power of music!
Then he continues to learn more martial arts, especially from a Tibetan order of monks. One of which provides Adrian with some hashish, which he is told he should consume when the moment was right. Even though Adrian is a massive nerd and bookworm, he still lives a wild life, so he takes the drugs on his last night before returning to the States and trips major balls. I guess listen to something by the Mars Volta? I don’t really know what their songs are about, but I assume they are about Watchmen and ancient Egyptian thingys. Cicatriz ESP is pretty awesome and would totally blow Adrian’s stoned mind, duuude. Veidt realizes that all that Alexander the Great did was resurrect an age of the Pharaohs. Their intellectual mastery was very significant and serves as an inspiration for both Alexander of Macedon and Adrian of Before Watchmen.
Then he comes back to New York, falls in love, and makes an unprecedented fortune playing the stock market. I might be condensing or glossing over some facts, but the truth of the matter is that these are the essential plot points to move him from point A to B. His lover lady ends up dead due to some tainted drugs, provided by none other than Moloch, and the whole time I was reading that section I could only think of the song Heroin by Velvet Underground. The first issue leaves us with an Adrian Veidt that is immediately recognizable to pretty much anyone who has ever looked at a comic book.
The Quick and Dirty
First Section: Joe Esposito – You’re the Best
Second Section: Pantera – Cemetery Gates
Third Section: Iron Maiden – Alexander the Great
Fourth Section: Mars Volta – Cicatriz ESP
Fifth Section: Velvet Underground – Heroin