I’ll let Mr Morrison be after this, I promise, but I just wanted to get a few things off my chest. This comic is so heavy with references to 1986’s seminal game-changing Watchmen that it’s hard to see anything else in it, including plot or character. Basically you’ve got the superhero characters that DC Comics wouldn’t let Alan Moore use in Watchmen mimicking the plot of Watchmen by effectively taking the place of the characters Alan Moore ended up using instead, as though Moore had actually been allowed to use those proscribed characters in the first place. Which is neat in an easter-eggy kind of way except that 1) the comic they’re referencing is 28 years old and 2) Watchmen has loomed so large in contemporary superhero comics for so long that pretty much anything interesting that could have been said about it has already been said.
Outside the Watchmen references there’s not much else going on of interest: a lot of heavy-handed symbolism (a bazillion references to infinity and the number eight that include the layout of the comic itself), characters who know they’re in a comic (something Morrison drops into almost everything he writes, but which he doesn’t actually ever do anything with), a staccato arrangement of scenes that resemble a narrative, and parallel monologues that vaguely resemble dialogue, overlaid with a brusque cynicism and casual approach to violence that comes across as just plain mean or cruel, especially for a writer who has in the past made arguments for superheroes as moral compasses and comics as living worlds.
Quitely’s art is lovely, as always, straddling the line between realism and cartoonishness in an eye-catching manner. The opening scene’s depiction of gobbets of blood and teeth pouring out of a man’s face after being shot in the head seemed a disappointing waste of his talents, though, and the intensely large number of panels per page (often choked with speech bubbles) used throughout the comic left me squinting more than gazing in delight at his work.