Today marks the announcement of something that many of us have feared: Watchmen 2. Or, more accurately, Before Watchmen, a project that until today seemed about as likely as DC Comics bringing back Jason Todd or Barbara Gordon… Hey, wait a minute! So what’s the big deal?
This morning, DC Comics officially unveiled their upcoming slate of Watchmen prequel comics. The series/graphic novel, originally created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, remains one of the most successful and acclaimed works of comic book fiction in history. Fan reaction to the notion of anything new not being created by the original team is pretty well documented: They do not want it unless it was written by Alan Moore. So DC, being clever, has decided to do what they did with Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Characters not so long ago and release new content that will not directly affect the tone or the message of the original masterpiece… or “cash cow” as it has become known as of late. To quote Alan Moore from the New York Times, “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago…I don’t want money,” he said. “What I want is for this not to happen. As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby Dick.’”
Hilariously ironic comments from Moore aside, let’s look at these Watchmen prequels as a chance to get some truly awesome work from great creators. While I agree to a degree with Moore’s statement about the company being dependent on 25 year old ideas, I also remember the idea of playing in your friend’s sandbox. They have all the cool toys and you can use them while you’re there, but at the end of the day they have to go back into your friend’s house. Unless they sell those toys at a garage sale, your awesome adventures are solely in their hands. Which is why comic fans shouldn’t be upset about what happens to any of their beloved characters. DC owns the characters, not Alan Moore. And given the success of Zack Snyder’s movie, this move should come as no surprise.
We get to see some of the best creators on the planet (and J. Michael Stracynski) work on one of the most cherished comic properties out there. Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Jae Lee, and JG Jones are all amazing, but when was the last time you saw them complete regular series work that lasted more than three issues? Everyone wins. These are not just challenging works for the creators, but challenging works for fans, which makes Before Watchmen an exciting project to be around for.
Do I like that DC had to pull from a 25 year old story? Not really, but that’s the nature of the business. Success sells, and while yes I would love those creators to be creating new and original content for the company, I am happy that I get to see them flex their muscles with interesting characters like the Watchmen. I just hope that this does not turn out to be like the disaster that was the All-Star Line.
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BEFORE WATCHMEN includes:
RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner