Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back-Issue Spotlight: Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill One-Shot

Happy Hump Day people!

Before going into this week's edition of Back-Issue Spotlight, I wanted  show off yesterday's swag.
Again, you can't beat 10 comics for a dollar out of the 10 cent bin. You just really can't.

Here they are:

Nice huh?
Just in case you can't make out the titles, they are:
Spider-Man#15, Uncanny Avengers#3, Secret Avengers#37(Vol.1), Dial H#15(Criminally underrated btw)
Harbinger Wars#1(Valiant comics represent, right Dan?) Astro City: Dark Ages Book One#'s 1 and 2; Book Two#4, Saga#12(Just now getting to these series, which is another critically acclaimed title I've been hearing about), and finally the Before Watchemen: Dollar Bill one-shot.

Speaking of Dollar Bill, judging from today's title, I don't have to ask you who's being spotlighted today, do I?

Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill One-Shot (Mar 2013) "I Want To Be In Pictures" by Len Wein and Steve Rude.

Ah Poor Dollar Bill. Alan Moore decided this particular hero should go out in an extremely embarrassing fashion, and that's exactly what happened, when poor Bill gets his cape stuck in a revolving door. Caught and unable to free himself, he gets straight up capped right in the fuck. Poor guy.

Well here's his story, and how he came into that unfortunate circumstance that day.

Ol' Bill wasn't much of a stand out in life, until his high school and college years as a star athlete in a lot of sports, particularly football, where he'd earn an athletic scholarship.

With all that skill, he was planning on going pro. And then this happened, as can sometimes be the case for aspiring pros:
With that dream effectively dead, Bill sets out to find his place in the world anyways.....
Poor guy just cannot catch a fucking break can he?

Wondering what to do next, he finally sees an ad in the newspaper that'll change his life forever.
The National Bank wants in the growing hero business with a hero of their very own protecting the bank.

Enter our man Bill:
Understandably like all the others who showed up, Bill's hesitant to go through with this idea. He thinks he'll look like a fool too, but he needs the job, and desperately needs the money. So Bill's fate is changed that very day as he indeed becomes Dollar Bill.

Bill does the Dollar Bill things, and does it pretty well. Enough to remain gainfully employed and become famous through it all. So popular and famous, that his bosses, Misters Abie, Howe, Cheatem, and Dewey(Gotta' love those names right?) decide he should try out for the Minutemen.

He reluctantly agrees, and despite the whole team knowing he's a fake, he's accepted into the team.
Things go good at first, especially since the Minutemen seem to be just about as fake as Bill with staged fights and all. Until a disastrous fight with Italian 5th Columnists turns out to be a major mistake. This event's covered in the other Before Watchmen books, but yeah, it's a royal fuck up that the Minutemen cover up.
Then awhile later, a real bank robbery forces Bill to step it up, and earn his costume the hard way.

Much like Stella before him, Dollar Bill's finally got his groove back, and kicking ass.

But such as is life sometimes, that's when things suddenly go to shit, and sometimes you die.
Dollar Bill goes out trying to protect the same bank responsible for getting him in this situation in the first place.

 Not a bad ending I think. Definitely a big difference than the original material, with Wein choosing to end on a high note.

Overall it's not a bad story. I know initially I shit on the whole Before Watchmen project Dildo and Co. rolled out. I, like most, considered it a poor attempt on DC's part to cash in on Moore's work, especially considering the long years of bad blood between the two. Well mostly on Moore's part, but who can blame him really?

That being said, I regret joining the hysteria generated by the internet mob, and not giving creators like the legendary Len Wein, Amanda Conner, and Darwyn Cooke the benefit of a doubt. Trust me, I own all but the Moloch mini, and they're all really respectful of the original Watchmen maxi-series. They really are, and are well worth picking up on the cheap by now.


The King of Thessaly said...

Erik Larsen! -Spidey #15, awesome issue!
I hear great things about Saga. I'll have to order a trade from the library some time...

Before Watchmen... the entire concept makes me feel dirty. I've heard good and scathing reviews... I just don't want my Watchmen memories sullied by reading them. I'm still trying to purge RebootCop from my brain!

Bad enough I can't see Dollar Bill without thinking of U.S. Bill from The Specials! "This is the basement. Want to see the furnace? -It's hot! Don't press your face against it for too long... or you get red streaks on you for... like, a month."

Dale Bagwell said...

@King: I did too concerning the Before Watchmen stuff, especially about JMS' Nite Owl stuff, but I own that one too, and it's not bad. Of all of them though I highly recommend the Minutemen and Silk Spectre mini's. Darwyn Cooke handled the material very well respectfully. Solid stuff.

Saga too, I'm finding out, so yeah, go check it out.

karl said...

I have all the Before Watchmen minis and felt they weren't half bad, even if they went in all kinds of crazy directions, I only ever really liked the Ozymandias series, Jae Lee's art is fucking intense!
This Dollar Bill was a laugh from start to finish, virtually a warning to anyone who wants to be a superhero, never mind an athlete. Plus the soft silver Age artwork helps to draw you in to something which seems innocent but isn't.
Ive got all the mini-series of Watchmen upstairs and plan to read them when Ive had some distance from them - once I collect a series I prefer to wait a while before I read them again.
Another cool stash you got there too!

Dale Bagwell said...

@Karl: Thx man. I don;'t for your preferred reading method, but I guess I can see why one would. Who wants to feel overwhelmed by a huge stack to read, unless you're super bored, brave, or facing plenty of time on the shitter "doing the business."

That Ozymandias really was good; well the innovative panels were if nothing else.

Steve Rude for me, was just about as perfect a choice to draw this as there is in comics. He just naturally has that Silver-Age-y style that fit this story to the fucking t.

The King of Thessaly said...

Yeah- but "not bad" is not the same a "good"- or even "great"! Pretty-much everyone describes them as "not too bad" or "okay"... And with the Watchmen name attached to them- they NEEDED to be GREAT! Otherwise- I'ma have to side with Alan Moore on this one... unless, of course, DC ever makes Watchmen Babies: V for Vacation. I'll stand in line for that!

Dale Bagwell said...

@King: I just bet you would man;)
No, I totally agree. And again, while they were pretty decent, they did't really add anything new to the Watchmen mythos other than expanding on what was already there. The whole point was you didn't really need to know the the behind the scenes stuff, because Moore already gave you all the info you needed to enjoy the story.

Like I said, it was decent for what it was, but it'll never, nor could it ever hope to, touch the original.

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