Before Watchmen Jim Lee Sketch Covers – Urban Comics (France)
So while we patiently wait for Panini France to unveil their last few 20th Anniversary covers (which will be coming out in the second half of the year, don't hold your breath), let's go back to 2013 when Urban Comics published Before Watchmen in France.
Urban Comics decided to publish the whole thing in a 7-issue series which mixed up the different series, each issue containing 5-6 of the original issues. Possibly a smart move from Urban so people wouldn't pick and choose whatever series they wanted to get and bought the whole thing.
Foreign publishers have the advantage of knowing what already worked or didn't in the US market and can select what covers to use (like Panini's recent Civil War II gatefold cover using Bulletproof Comics' Dell'Otto tryptic). This didn't mean much back in the old days, but with the amount of variants coming out these days, they can go for the hottest cover in an effort to move a few more copies. When it comes to before Watchmen, the hottest covers were clearly Jim Lee's 1:200 variants for the different first issues. In the US those covers had a maximum print run of around 300-500.
Urban decided to do two editions: a regular and a limited edition. These limited editions featured almost all the Jim Lee covers (the cover of Moloch wasn't used). To make them a bit different from their US counterparts, they went with the penciled versions of the art to create a new special cover.
If you are interested in these, here's some good news: these are limited to 2500 copies (a least 5 times the US editions) and relatively easy to find. They haven't made a lot of noise in the aftermarket yet, but with all the DC Watchmen talk and the Batman / Flash crossover, The Button, right around the corner, they might be some nice comics to have around.