Young William Benjamin Brady is on the verge of becoming a sports superstar when a football injury dashes his dreams. Desperate for work after barely graduating college, he reluctantly agrees to don a ridicules super hero costume and serve as a corporate spokesman for National Bank. Recognizing his use in boosting their public image, the Minutemen include him into their ranks. It’s not long before Dollar Bill becomes a crime fighter for real.
As much as Alan Moore hates that DC went forward with publishing prequel stories under different writers and artists, my interest in wanting to know about the past adventures of the heroes from the world of Watchmen is too intriguing for me to turn away. Though I must admit that I am fairly late in the game to read any of the books, I am never the less fascinated by the results. Telling the story of Dollar Bill is an interesting one, since extremely little is known about him aside from his being a bank-sponsored member of the Minutemen and what ultimately happens to him by the time of Watchmen. Writer Len Wein, who was editor of Watchmen and is very familiar with the material, does a very nice job developing a unique back-story that explains the circumstances of how a young man from Nebraska becomes a super hero seemingly by accident. It’s just too bad that this story is a one-shot because it has me curious to know even more about him.
Illustrating the book is Steve Rude of the famed science fiction comic book Nexus. It’s clear Rude is the kind of artist perfect for a Before Watchmen book as he has a great understanding and appreciation for the classic style of the Golden Age and early Silver Age comic books. The posture to the characters are exaggerated just enough to state quite clearly what they are doing in the scene, but still have a sense of realism that makes it all the more spectacular. The coloring by Glen Whitmore also keeps in mind of the era it is paying homage to, looking bright and crisp without needing to be any more defined than necessary. Yes, there is shading present. But it’s muted just enough to hardly be recognizable at times, which is actually a good thing.
A book like Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill can sometimes feel like fan fiction come to life. It is a side story set in the world of Watchmen, but developed by other creators. Nevertheless, I think Len Wein and Steve Rude do a fine job telling the tale of one of the lesser known characters in Dollar Bill. Wein writes a fascinating back-story while Rude illustrates some wonderful pages. I will say, though, that this book is probably recommend to mostly those interested in checking out any of the Before Watchmen books. However, I think even those not familiar with Watchmen at all might find this to be an intriguing title worth checking out.
What do you think about DC publishing prequel stories to Watchmen? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @LordAkiyama.