This comic serves as a primer for those who have never read Watchmen or who read it a long time ago and might need their memories refreshed a bit.
The story is told by Nite Owl as he is writing his autobiography, Under the Hood. It walks the reader through brief introductions to major characters such as Hooded Justice, The Silk Spectre, the Nite Owl himself, The Comedian, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Silhouette, and Captain Metropolis.
There really isn't much of a story present - more like a point of view. A capturing of a moment in time. It's an overview. It's like reading brief psych profiles on a bunch of people. In several cases, the superhero names of the individuals aren't even mentioned. Motivations are more important than colorful costumes.
The issue is a good introduction to the Watchmen universe, especially since the events of Before Watchmen, of course, happen before the main story from Watchmen. It helps the reader understand who these people and how they are connection to one another. And it gives the characters a bit of forwarded momentum with Captain Metropolis's efforts to gather together a team of heroes at the end of the issue.
The style of the comic is 100% Watchmen. The first page starts us off with four panels of identical semi-circles. The first is from the POV of inside a baby's bassinet, followed by the view of a dirty city from a bridge underpass, followed by the sun, followed by Dr. Manhattan's forehead.
Likewise, on the second page complete circles are repeated (puddle, a carburetor, a clock and then the panels pull back to bring the reader into the scene.
The art of Darwyn Cooke is very stylistic but a bit too cartoonish to say, "Watchmen," to me.
I'm not going to complain, though. The issue is a good read and serves as a great introduction back into the world of Watchmen.
The Curse of the Crimson Corsair: The Devil int eh Deep Part One backup feature is literally two pages long. The art is great - dark, with deep, shadowy lines. It sets up a simple story hook with a crew member accused of theft. For having to squeeze in a ton of exposition, the story does its best with two measly pages. Page one manages to have a splash and title while the second page is jammed pack with 7 panels and 13 caption boxes.
Overall, Before Watchmen launches with great promise and much respect to the original story in this first issue.