by Gene Turnbow

Jim Lee's cover for Len Wein and Jae Lee's OZYMANDIAS #1

Jim Lee’s cover for Len Wein and Jae Lee’s OZYMANDIAS #1

It was strange to find myself at Warren Jaycox’s Galaxy of Comics on the afternoon of Independence Day, 2012 – but I had traveled all that way in the hope of meeting and speaking with legendary writer Len Wein about the first book in his new mini-series, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1.

With sumptuous art by Jae Lee, and knowing what Len Wein could accomplish with the written word, I was at least going to get a copy of the book for him to sign, if nothing else.  Providence provided a camera operator in the person of professional comic book inker Dana Shukartsi and I found myself doing an impromptu video interview with Mr. Wein right there in the store – so some of our conversation wound up on video, which we’ve put on the Krypton Radio YouTube channel.

I was impressed by the ethereal drawing style of the artist of the book, Jae Lee, so I asked Len what it was like working with him.  Surprisingly, the response was  that “there are glaciers that move more swiftly than Jae Lee.  By the end I was getting very frustrated.”  Jae hadn’t finished the first issue until the day before it had gone to press – and that at this writing they are seventeen pages shy of issue #2 which is supposed to be released the week after San Diego Comic-Con – and there are only eighteen pages per book. Reading the book later, I was struck by Jae Lee’s luminous style, almost as though his characters weren’t drawn but sculpted in the finest self-luminous marble.

Comic books are much more true art than they have been in past decades, and this book qualifies as one of the best examples of the art as I have seen in a very long time.  Wein is in rare form, opening the mind of the “Smartest Man In The World” and making him accessible to the reader in a way I frankly didn’t expect.  He gives a voice to Adrian Alexander Veidt (Ozymandias) that is solid and real, with depth to the character far beyond what’s printed on the pages – enough for the character’s world to feel solid and real down to the last finger bone and drop of blood.  The character Ozymandias is both human and inhuman, and Wein captures this perfectly.

The remainder of the first book is a treat, a piece of another Len Wein story called The Curse of the Crimson Corsair: The Devil in the Deep!.  This one was part five, drawn by John Higgins and lettered by Sal Cipriano, and part 6 will be in the back of Minutemen #2.

Collecting all the pieces to this story arc across all the other books is likely to be a bit expensive at $4 a book, but for the $4 I spent on this one I was well satisfied.  I think you will be too.

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