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What happened "Before Watchmen"?
On February 1st, 2012, DC Comics announced the release of a prequel series to their acclaimed 1986 series The Watchmen, which starred an assortment of heroes in a world of dark politics and post-war sensationalism. Released in summer 2012, this projection has been named Before Watchmen, carrying the banner for a series of issues and titles on each major character.
Picture: The key figures of The Watchmen assemble for the first time, starting the plot that lives in infamy. Excerpt from Before Watchmen Nite Owl #1 (2012).
This article/landing page is designed to organize the Before Watchmen event. It will incorporate a Reading Order, Checklist, a list of spoilers for your preview, and hopefully lots of interesting. You'll be able to see some of the artwork and figure out some of the intricate details as we follow the characters of Nite Owl, Rorchasch, and even Dr. Manhattan in a setting that will shed new light on the entire saga.
Now it's time to see what happened: Before Watchmen.
Before Watchmen Updates
April 26, 2013: This Reading Order has been finalized.
04/26/2013. Thanks to Slappypyne for checking in with DC Editor Dennis Will and verifying that Comedian #6 is the last issue of the series. This finalizes the list! Thanks everybody; until next time!
04/24/2013. Added Comedian #6. This could be the last issue of the Before Watchmen series. An Epilogue was originally promised, but there are currently no indications that a final, concluding issue is on the horizon. I'll give it a month before I close and finalize this Reading Order.
03/14/2013. Added Ozymandias #6, and this leaves only one more issue before this whole event ends.
03/06/2013. Added Rorschach #4 finale of that title.
02/27/2013. Implemented Dr. Manhattan #4, the finale of that title.
01/30/2013. Two issues released this week and they've been added to the order. It's cool that Before Watchmen Dollar Bill is now part of this event.
01/23/2013. It's been a long wait, but the next round of issues are starting to release. This week, Minutemen #6 came out and it's been added.
12/26/2012. Added Nite Owl #4 from this week's releases.
12/21/2012. Added Molach #2 from this week's releases.
12/12/2012. Added two more issue. Rorschach #3 and Dr. Manhattan #3.
12/05/2012. Two more issues released this week, Comedian #4 and Minutemen #5; the latter is choc' full 'o surprises if you follow carefully. Much worth reading.
11/29/2012. After some wait, we've finally received the distribution of all the needed Before Watchmen comic books and are fully updated. The ordering is also correct - based on the chaptering of the Crimson Corsair story arc in the back.
11/19/2012. Been looking for Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4, but unable to locate it at this time. There may have been a shipping problem. If you've got a copy, feel free to contact me. It will probably updated the next Wednesday.
11/07/2012. After a few weeks with no releases, the event is now back on track. This week, they introduced an entirely new 2-part series Before Watchmen: Molach. Issue #1 released this week.
10/26/2012. Hey everybody. This week's release was scheduled to be Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4. The problem, though, is that it was pushed back in shipment by DC Comics. I did some research on this and now it's scheduled for November 21, 2012 on the DC Comic Release website. The next issue that should be coming out is Before Watchmen: Molach #1, a recently added title, on November 7, 2012.
10/18/2012. This week's release is Minutemen #4 and gives a lot of extremely interesting details about the characters. Excellent read.
10/11/2012. Updated this week with Dr. Manhattan #2.
10/04/2012. Rorschach #2 came out this week. Added the writeup/summary and implemented it into the Reading Order.
09/20/2012. This week's release is Nite Owl #3. I decided to add a Crimson Corsair section and update the into section with a shot of the issue.
09/06/2012. Updated for this week's release Silk Spectre #3.
08/31/2012. Updated for this week's release with Minutemen #3.
08/23/2012. Updated for this week's release.
08/09/2012. Updated this week's release. I've decided to break each title into it's own section and will be supplying the DC Reading Order and a Chronological one. Should be up in a few days.
08/03/2012. This week was updated with Nite Owl #2.
07/26/2012. This week has been updated, it stars The Comedian in the Vietnam War.
07/23/2013. Updated the issues and Reading Order. The page is current to this date.
06/28/2012. Added this week's issue to the event. The story line is actually pretty good and entertaining, but it's still in an early stage. One question that's rising in my thoughts is whether the Reading Order will be chronological or not. I may supply two different Reading Orders for the event before it's all over.
06/22/2012. This event has been up for a few weeks and I've been updating it. The most recent update is The Comedian #1. On average, there should be one issue a week.
The Before Watchmen Reading Order - The way it went...before.
In the classical sense, Before Watchmen comprises an event; it involves multiple titles, has a timeline, and therefore must have an order of reading. Here is where you follow along. Special Note: After reading the first issue, it's obvious the flow of events is important, so think of the Reading Order as if it were a movie. It will be chronological, but there will be flashback moments and so forth.
Disclaimer: The Reading Order is now final. This event has concluded.
001 Before Watchmen: The Minutemen #1 This issue is almost a prologue to the event. Centering from the perspective of Hollis Mason, recently completing his book, "Under The Hood", he reflects on how the Minutemen formed, remembering the roster with Hooded Justice, Sally Jupiter, Nite Owl, The Comedian, Mothman, Dollar Bill, The Silhouette, and Captain Metropolis. Although this is portrayed as a Flashback, it sets the prelude to the stories of the heroes to come.
002 Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1 (Specifically designed after BW: The Minutemen #1. Laurie is the daughter of infamous crimefighter Sally Jupiter; the story moves to 1966 where she has been raised and trained by her mother. Her life takes a turn, though, when she meets Greg and falls in love. Throwing off her family infamy, she takes off with him during the Woodstock era.)
003 Before Watchmen: The Comedian #1 (Edward Blake appears to have very close ties to the Kennedy family. In this issue, we see how intimate they are. Jackie Kennedy gives him the "Thumbs Up" to take out Marilyn Monroe, which he does for the good of the nation. Later, the President asks him to join the FBI on a drug operation against Moloch The Mystic. Blake goes in, guns blazing, and about to arrest him when he finds out John F. Kennedy was just assassinated. (This diverges from the movie version of The Watchmen, where the beginning intro roll suggests Blake may have been JFK's shooter. ~Just an interesting note.)\
004 Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1 (After following the original Nite Owl to his hideout, Daniel Drieberg becomes the adopted ally of Hollis Mason, upgrading the hero with new gadgets and techniques, until the hero unexpectedly retires. Mason then tells Dan that he will become the new Nite Owl, and begins a two year training program. The story ends with Nite Owl and Rorschach at Captain Metropolis' meeting of The Crimebusters. Great story, specifically stated that it is designed to be read after Comedian #1.)
005 Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 (An origin story, it follows Adrian Veidt, an exceptionally intelligence child who began showing promise from age 2 to the moment he decided to don the crimefighting name of Ozymandias. Throughout his life, it goes into the childhood tribulations of being smarter than those around you, to his quest for knowledge and understanding, until the relationships in his life were gone.)
006 Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 (With a flashback to 1939, Hollis remembers how the Minutemen were formed, starting with Captain Metropolis and Silk Spectre, who then publish an ad in the newspaper for tryouts. Soon, The Comedian, Nite Owl, Dollar Bill, and Mothman, and The Silhouette join Hooded Justice who is already present. The issue goes into some one of their earliest, "staged", battles, and the unique relationships surrounding the heroes.)
007 Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #2 (Laurie' s life if full of new and wondrous events as she moves to San Francisco with her boyfriend and has the hippie experience. Taking a protecting role in her community, she has a dress fashioned for her and adopts the name "Silk Spectre" to fight crime. In this issue, she faces a drug manufacturer named Gurentstein who attempts to overtake the city and then the country with a new potent, mix of hallucinogens.)
008 Before Watchmen: The Comedian #2 (Edward Blake is now sent on a tour of Vietnam. The issue shows how the American Government is secretly funding the war by running drugs during the hippie movement. Blake seems to love going to war and draws the infamous smiley face on his helmet.)
009 Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #2 (Rorschach and Nite Owl continue patrolling the streets, but after chasing a villain, enter a room where perverted sex acts are underway. Before Rorschach can beat the dominatrix, Nite Owl knocks him down and the two split up. The issue then goes into Nite Owl's background with an abused mother. When the story resumes, two vigilantes admit they both have personal baggage and prepare to patrol again. Later, though, Nite Owl heads back to the dominatrix.)
010 Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #2 (Now tracking down the drug dealer who caused Milena's drug overdose, Ozymandias goes into action, using his logic and calculations to find the main hideout. Once there, he takes down the leader and gang, making his first official bust. Later, he decides to embark on a hunt for Hooded Justice. Down at a pier, though, he runs into The Comedian.)
011 Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 (The intro story for the faceless hero as he prowls, searching for a murderer known as The Bard. After beating a drug dealer nearly to death, he heads into the sewers only to find out it's a setup meant to lure him into a trap. The Bard is the main villain with a seriously disfigured face and has his goons beat Rorschach within an inch of his life. After awakening, our hero heads to a diner and prepares to return for a second round.)
012 Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 (A visit through the timeline of his existence, Dr. Manhattan questions quantum physics against chance and his accidental origin. For the first time, he moves to the past before he was created and learns that he should not exist.)
013 Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3 (The story resumes where The Comedian has accosted Sally Jupiter. In response, the men kick him out of the group and Blake vows to kill them if he sees them again. Meanwhile, Silk Spectre rescues a girl from a child's adult-play crime ring and gets shot. She calls on Nite Owl (Hollis) for help.)
014 Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #3 (After a night of tripping, Laurie wakes up to find her boyfriend overdosed. She gets him to the hospital and confronts Gurenstein and the Chairman. Meanwhile, Miss Jupiter has Comedian locate Laurie and gets rid of her boyfriend.)
015 Before Watchmen: Comedian #3 (Blake gets a call from Bobby Kennedy and relates how things have changed since he arrived back from the war. The people no longer trust anyone and he doesn't see any truth to authority. Bobby asks Blake to apologize for some recent actions, but gets a firm, joking, refusal.)
016 Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #3 (Dan ends up joining forces with Elizabeth Lane, the dominatrix of "questionable" adult activities, while searching for a killer of prostitutes. Lane also seduces him, beginning a very risky relationship. In the workshop, Hollis gives Dan an envelope with his "Under The Hood" manuscripts; Dan scans it and realizes what is about to happen. In his own plot, Rorschach is cleaning up a church until he realizes the minister there is a sociopath-murderer. When he dons his uniform, he's suddenly facing the barrel of a gun.)
017 Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #3 (Adrian and The Comedian face off, but they are evenly matched. The fight ends in a draw as they go their separate ways. Later, the newspapers reveal Dr. Manhattan and he begins building his Antarctica Headquarters while studying the god-like superhuman.)
018 Before Watchmen: Rorschach #2 (Rorschach is now seriously beat up. Practically near death. While recouping, he sees his enemies on the streets, guides an unmanned truck into one of them, and then blows him up. The gang now knows their faceless hero is still alive, so they prepare to go after him. Back at the diner, a waitress attempts to help Rorschach, but he passed out near death, only to wake up 3 days later in a hospital. With some recovery under his belt, he finds a contact to "interrogate", but the gang is about to bust in and do some questioning of their own.)
019 Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2 (Jon Osterman, now caught in a temporal anomaly, sees multiple divergent futures. Not having been destroyed in an accident, he asks Janey to marry him. Elsewhere in the world, he observes differences in the Kennedy assassination, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Watergate scandal. The story is then correlated to the quantum physics theory of Schrodinger's Cat, which leads Jon to consider if time is now broken.)
020 Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4 (Amidst removing Comedian from the group, Silhouette's alternative lifestyle is revealed and they also terminate her membership. Hollis wants to continue working with her. So does Byron, aka Mothman, but he's becoming increasing dependent on drugs and alcohol. Silhouette sets up a meeting with Hollis, but before they can get together, she and her lover are murdered. This affects the entire supergroup; Sally learns about the villain, Liquidator, and kills him in his hideout. Hollis gathers Silhouette's effects and learns of her history in Nazi Germany, and The Comedian makes an appearance and tells Sally how Vietnam changed him.)
021 Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4 (DC released this issue out of order, but it belongs here based on the Crimson Corsair chapter ordering. Laurie reads the contrived note from her boyfriend and goes into a bout of depression. Meanwhile, Hollis is still searching for her and manages to meet her friends and stop two female enforcers dispatched to take her out. This causes Laurie to become determined and she costumes up and heads down to the bar and lab, taking the mastermind out. He ends up in the street and gets killed in the process. At the end of the story, Laurie returns to her mother, tries to work things out, and ultimately is shown at the first Crimebusters meeting.)
022 Before Watchmen: Moloch #1 (Edgar Jacobi, from prison, makes a confession before his parole, and tells the priest his life's story, from the abuse as a disfigured child, to his love of stage magic, to when he used it for profit, and then crime, until the moment he faces Dr. Manhattan, a being truly capable of wondrous power. At the end of the issue, Edgar is released and sees Ozymandias. The superhero seems very eager to take the villain out for coffee and make things right.)
023 Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #4(This issue was released out of schedule, but it placed her because of the chapter ordering of the Crimson Corsair. Adrian continues his crime-fighting adventures, but realizes that his heart is elsewhere, unlike the others. His journal then details his meetings with President Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK's Assassination, the coming of the second wave of crime-fighters, and the first meeting of the Crimebusters, where he realizes that it's up to him to save the world.)
024 Before Watchmen: Comedian #4 (The entire issue occurs in the Vietnam War theatre. Eddie has now crossed the line and developed his infamous PTSD comedic mentality. He's involved with war crimes and taking hits of acid. In the backdrop, the next Kennedy is running for President and vowing to end the war. Eddie tries to contact him, but his calls aren't been taken.)
025 Before Watchmen: Minutemen #5 (Packed with lots of surprises, the main plot involves the appearance of two comic book superheroes, Bluecoat and Scout, revealing a Japanese Nationalist's plot to cause a Nuclear Bomb Meltdown in the Statue of Liberty. The last four remaining members of the Minutemen foil the plot, but the entire adventure is covered up by the government when Bluecoat and Scout are revealed to have been Japanese themselves. In addition, this issue reveals serious surprises about Hooded Justice and his relevance to Silk Spectre's death and the case her and Nite Owl had been working on.)
026 Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3 (The ambushers barge in on Rorschach during his interrogation, but he's ready. Throwing a gas canister, he quickly starts a counter-attack. He escapes through the window and gets away. Later, in his secret identity, Walter decides to pay his respects to the waitress who tried to help him; she says he can buy her dinner at eleven o'clock after work. Elsewhere, Rawhead and his gang have had enough of Rorschach; they prepare an elaborate trap with him leading our hero to a disco, where he is ambushed. In the final pages, Rorschach appears to be down for the count and Nancy the Waitress is being walked home by a dubious stranger.)
027 Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #3 (Faced with his temporal dilemma, Dr. Manhattan then goes through a scene where he finally realizes that his decisions has destroyed the timeline and created numerous alternate ones. He has, in effect, become a quantum observer. He then recalls his past as a boy back in Nazi Germany when his mother was killed, how she made a choice which affected all other choices for their family. Using this as a model, he then goes back in time and re-aligns the timeline by removing the different choices he has made, including the one that bypassed his creation. His theory now is that he must limit himself or he will disrupt the quantum field again.)
028 Before Watchmen: Moloch #2 (Having been released from prison with a sped-up parole through Adrian Veidt, Moloch becomes employed by the former superhero to do tedious work as a form of atonement. In truth, it's a sham; Adrian is carefully administering lethal doses of nuclear material in Moloch's office; at the same time, he has the one-time villain messenger laced cigarettes to Dr. Manhattan's former lover. As the allegations of Manhattan's hazardous presence are leveled, Moloch realizes it was Adrian, but before he can go to police, Adrian shows up, tells him his master scheme, and convinces him to commit suicide.)
029 Before Watchmen: Night Owl #4 (The Plot between Nite Owl and Rorschach meet when Dan and his "lady" realize the preacher who has captured Rorschach is also linked to the prostitute murders. They head there to find the place going up in flames, but free Rorschach just in time. Before the preacher can get away, they confront him. Rorschach kills him. Dan implies he will go to the authorities, but later decides not. By the end of the issue, Dan is talking to Mason, the original Nite Owl, and learns he will go through with the book.)
030 Before Watchmen: Minutemen #6 (The finale of the series, Mason recaps how he and Mothman found Hooded Justice in a desolate tower and killed him. A period afterwards, The Comedian appears in his home and tells him what really happened, with a stunning series of surprises and truths. Mason then re-edits his book and removes from the accounts forever. A new breed of heroes are appearing and he passes his Nite Owl mantle over for the new era.)
031 Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1 (This is a one-shot that goes into the origin of William Brady aka Dollar Bill. It starts with his High School Football career and how his life took a turn for the worse until he signed up as a publicity stunt for the National Bank. Shortly thereafter, he joins the Minutemen and eventually fills the heroic role he's been pretending. That is, until the fateful day he is killed in a freak accident.)
032 Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #5 (Adrian is now in a quandary, and much of his efforts are spent trying to come up with a solution to the Doomsday Clock. Finally, he arrives at an option from an Outer Limits movie and sets his machinations in motion. The rest of the issue goes into him revealing his secret identity and Nixon's Third Term. In the last parts, he meets with Dr. Manhattan, clones his infamous Hybrid Lynx, and begins observing the riots, noting how things are moving closer to the endgame.)
033 Before Watchmen: Comedian #5 (Blake continues his psychopathic behavior in Vietnam, but one thing he adheres to, is that he's a patriot. The issue covers his war crimes, including the belief that everyone in the country is the enemy, waiting to see if the US is bluffing. Files of his actions, though, get back to Bobby Kennedy, in the midst of his campaign, as a means of blackmail.)
034 Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #4 (In this last issue, Dr. Manhattan approaches Ozymandias after sensing a haze or wall in his future-glimpsing. He then agrees to work on Ozymandias's secret plan, catapulting through the actual novel to the end where he leaves the world.)
035 Before Watchmen Rorschach #4 (Last issue. Captured during a blackout, Rawhead takes Rorschach's mask and leaves him to be killed. The villain gets high-minded to do some vigilante justice. But before Rorschach can be tortured, the freed tiger jumps the henchman holding him. Vic frees himself to find Rawhead killed by rioters during the blackout. As the story ends, Vic finds out Nancy was raped, but survived. The killer is acquitted, but he finds him and kills him.)
036 Before Watchman Ozymandias #6 (This final issue ties the entire story of Adrian together as he pulls scientists and artists together to work secretly on faux alien while he also attempts to duplicate Manhattan's teleportation ability. At the end, The Comedian finds out about his plans and, dressed in black, Adrian goes to kill him.)
037 Before Watchmen Comedian #6 (Final Issue. Blake's story moves back to America where he meets with a mysterious figure, "Gordy". Probably meaning G. Gordon Liddy, the man tells Blake the details of a planned assassination against Robert Kennedy, including CIA involvement. Blake returns home and is later awakened with Kennedy at his bedside, telling him he's going to go public with the Vietnam incident during his Presidential Campaign. Blake says he understands, but when Kennedy makes his speech, he decides to let the assassination go down. In the midst of the confusion, it's actually him - The Comedian - that kills Bobby Kennedy.)
Before Watchmen: The Comedian - Issues #1-6Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan - Issues #1-4Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Minutemen - Issues #1-6Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl - Issues #1-4Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias - Issues #1-6Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Rorschach - Issues #1-4Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre - Issues #1-4Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before Watchmen: Specials - Special Issues That were included later.Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Crimson Corsair
The Side-Story Running with the Before Watchmen Event
In each issue release of Before Watchmen, a small, usually 2-page, sub-event called "The Crimson Corsair" will be added to enhance the overall entertainment flavor of the original Watchmen book.
The Crimson Corsair is set in a Pre-19th Century era involving pirates, rugged seas, and men of torn morals. The protagonist is one characters who rises up from the bottomless depths, philosophically.
The Protagonist of this story is Gordon McClachlan, a Scot serving his His Majesty's Royal Navy. After seeing brutal justice dispensed at the hand of the Ship's Captain, he begins a mutiny which fails. Ending up in the dark waters, he meets the Crimson Corsair on the Flying Dutchman and learns he is a prisoner to the sea. His wish, though, is granted, when the Corsair gives him a chance for his freedom by embarking on a journey to acquire three unlikely items.
Picture: Gordon McClachlan meets the Crimson Corsair, a figure of despair on his journey.
Have you seen The Watchmen? - Time to get up to speed.
The Watchmen is actually a 12-issue series that was released in 1986. Written by Alan Moore, it gained a loyal following and great acclaim as one of the best stories in the Comic Book Superhero genre.
A paperback edition, this is a hard-to-find supplemental to the entire Watchmen experience. If you're a fan, or are looking for something to give to someone who thinks they have everything from the story, this could be the big prize. It answers many background questions never raised in the book or movie.
If you are having any trouble locating anything about the Watchmen or Before Watchmen event, you might want to check out Amazon's Watchmen Catalog.
This is the Blu-ray version of the original series with stunning graphics and a highly-accurate detail that collectors and fans can appreciate.
If you're really deep in The Watchmen and find yourself searching for symbols and meaning, pick up this book which discusses the cultural implications and some of the decision-making processes that created the story many came to love.
Before Watchmen Checklist
The issues comprising the series.
The following issues are scheduled for release as part of the Before Watchmen series. As more information becomes available, this section will be updated accordingly:
Before Watchmen: Epilogue #1 (One Shot) - Originally, there were comments about an Epilogue story, but it was later confirmed that this issue would not exist. It's listed here just for novelty. Comedian #6 turned out to be the final issue of the event.
Comedian #1-6, with writer Brian Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones.
Dr. Manhattan #1-4, with writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Adam Hughes.
Minutemen #1-6, with writer and artist Darwyn Cooke.
Moloch #1-2, with writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Eduardo Risso. This series was decided on later, because of the initial success of the event.
Nite Owl #1-4, with Writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Andy and Joe Kubert.
Ozymandias #1-6, with Writer Len Wein and artist Jae Lee.
Rorschach #1-4, with writer Brian Azzarello and artist, Lee Bermejo.
Silk Spectre #1-4, with writer Darwyn Cooke and artist Amanda Conner.
And thanks for dropping by! If you've seen or heard anything pertaining to the Before Watchmen series, or you'd like to submit some of your own information, please feel free to sound off with your constructive criticism or opinions. All are welcome; just remember to be courteous because this is a free resource.