My plan is to do a series of solo reviews for both this and next Monday. So since I have no clue how many that will be. I can’t state this is Part 2 of how many parts, but it is Part 2.
Before Watchmen Moloch #2 (of 2) by J. Michael Straczynski writer, Eduardo Risso artist and Trish Mulvihill colorist was just absolutely fantastic. I have not reread Watchmen in a long time, but if memory serves this book fit in seamlessly to Watchmen. The big surprise is not only was it a great character study of Moloch but it gave additional insight into Adrian Veidt.
JMS’ story felt almost pedestrian as it opened up. The first issue had given us a wonderful portrait of the villain Moloch, the Moloch seeking redemption appears on the surface to be an uninteresting character. Veidt finds Moloch and gives him a job. He constantly praises him and speaks of how much trust he has in him. Moloch’s job is to review three data sets side by side to insure that each data set is coming up with the same formulas. Per Veidt this is needed in order to insure that the test on a new energy source is in fact working as all three tests should yield the same results. Moloch takes his job seriously and he finds the tiniest differences. Veidt (Ozymandias) showers Moloch with the importance of his work and how well his has done. He enlists Moloch in helping deliver medicine to Dr. Manhattan’s old girl friend. It all seems so innocuous.
Then we start to see the curtain get pulled back. We see Veidt is creating the three data sets and making minuscule errors for Moloch to catch. We find out Moloch is getting ill and Adrian meets with the doctor to see how things are progressing. Next we see the book fold into the Watchmen saga as the Comedian meets with Moloch and Moloch tells Veidt. The final parts of the puzzle are revealed as we see Dr. Manhattan ambushed on TV about the fact that old associates are dying of cancer and we get the reveal it is Ozmandias behind it all. Then Veidt (Ozy) reveals his grand plan to Moloch who loves it, even though he is a sacrificial lamb. The last page is Moloch getting a bullet through the head and Rorschach finds the body.
In a two part story JMS gives us a picture of a man who due to his deformity is rejected throughout his life and at first becomes the villain. Then as he seeks redemption he is used by a villain and plays the sacrificial lamb almost gladly. We see the depths of Veidt’s manipulation and his ruthlessness in pursuing his goal. It does what a prequel should do and that is to illuminate the story it precedes.
The entire package is drawn by Risso. Now I have no clue if Mr. Risso works from a full script or if has freedom on how to layout the book. My guess is a full script, but the shadowing, spotting of blacks and all the art is his work. Risso’s unmistakable style breathes life into a well crafted script. You can feel the arrogance and subtle evil oozing out of Veidt. You can feel the hopefulness of Moloch as he craves acceptance and validation that he is in fact proving to be a better person. Finally the coloring by Trish Mulvihill is spot on. I believe she almost always colors Risso’s work. Coloring is so important and I think due to the computer age maybe harder than ever as you have even more choices than ever on how to do something. Trish does it perfectly and meshes with Risso’s work like a well tailored suit.
From what I thought might be a throw away extra series for Before Watchmen, the Moloch two part story is now an essential part of the overall Watchmen story. This was an excellent job by three top flight creators doing great work.
More stuff next Monday. So far another very good week.