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DC waited 25 years before exploiting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's masterpiece Watchmen with new comics featuring that book's characters. But it finally succumbed to temptation, and this oversize hardcover is one of three collecting the new prequels produced by various creators. The most substantial story here is the "Nite Owl," which details the origins of the original Nite Owl and his relationship to Hollis Mason, portrays his crime-fighting partnership with Rorschach, and tells the story of the Twilight Lady—a sexy madam who plays Catwoman to Nite Owl's Batman—who is mentioned briefly in the original. The convoluted "Dr. Manhattan" tale places the hero in a bind involving quantum physics and alternate realities. Also included is the story of the deformed villain Moloch, who finds success but not solace in crime. VERDICT All of the characters receive some interesting, even compelling backstory, and the artwork by Adam Hughes, Kubert, and others is irreproachable. But not all of the writing is convincing, and with its sex and nudity, this title is not for kids. A decent work, but readers expecting the brilliance of the original will be disappointed.—S.R.