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DC Comics announces prequel to WATCHMEN

DC Comics announces prequel to WATCHMEN

This morning, DC comics announced seven new prequel books in the revered Watchmen universe, confirming both the hopes and fears of comic fans everywhere. The new comics, titled Before Watchmen, are launching this summer and will span seven different books that each focus on individual early members of The Watchmen. The decision to augment what is considered to be the most influential comic book of all time is certainly a controversial one, and it is one we will likely not stop hearing about for years to come.

Watchmen is Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed classic that critiqued the concept of superheroes and turned it upside down by throwing in complex politics and anxieties of the time. Released in 1986, Watchmen was a game changer in an era of comic books that featured cheesy, childlike stories and artwork. Considered by many to be a turning point in the maturity of the medium, Watchmen offered an extremely dark, grown up story of anti-heroism, violence, sex, and corruption. It showed the world that comics didn’t have to be just for kids, but that they could tell a legitimately complex story with heavy themes.

Before Watchmen covers

Some of the Before Watchmen covers

Before Watchmen will be released in seven separate books, with each book focusing on one of the main players of the early Watchmen canon. The characters in question are Comedian, Rorschach, Minuteman, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan. Each of these characters play a large role in forming The Watchmen and for setting up the story and events of the original book. The prequels will no doubt tell stories of the early adventures of these heroes as they form the first generation of The Watchmen, and the tragic failure of that group as they come into modern times.

Controversy

There is plenty to be concerned with about this news. Additional Watchmen stories have been rumored for nearly two decades now. The original book is considered a masterpiece, and it tells a complete story. Fans have worried that any additional stories, especially those motivated as a cash grab, would only tarnish the legacy and brilliance of Watchmen. Most disconcerning of the new books, however, is the lack of Alan Moore.

Alan Moore, who has disassociated himself with DC Comics, is notorious for objecting against any further attempts to continue any of his classic work in modern ways. Be it film adaptations, sequels, or prequels, Moore never fails to lash out at those responsible. Moore had no involvement in the 2009 Watchmen film, and he publically spoke many unkind words about the film and its creators. Like the film, Moore is not involved in any way with Before Watchmen. He has already vehemently denied the project, going so far as to call it “completely shameless” in an interview with The New York Times. Alan Moore made Watchmen what it is. Can a prequel series without him still succeed?

DC have certainly considered the implication of a Moore-less Watchmen, and they have brought out their big guns to compensate. On board to write the seven books are J. Michael Straczynski, Len Wein, Darwyn Cooke, and Brian Azzarello. Azzarello will be writing both the Comedian and Rorschach books, and is the perfect man to take on those dark and painful roles. With an all-star team like that heading up Before Watchmen, we can rest assured that the books will tell great stories—perhaps wholly unnecessary stories, but still great nonetheless.

Still, the news is very troubling to many comic fans. DC are trampling onto sacred ground with Before Watchmen. While it is true that prequel stories are the only proper way more Watchmen content could be created, there is still plenty to worry about without Alan Moore, and in the shape DC has been as of late. DC has been very prequel and reboot happy lately, considering they recently rebooted 52 of their classic comics (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Justice League to name a few) giving them all fresh starts. Who knows if Before Watchmen is just a continuing piece of this business trend to grab money from nostalgic comic fans. The answers won’t come until the books hit store shelves this summer, the beginning of the end of the world.

Comments

  1. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum Interesting, and as you point out, troubling.

    Why do we need prequel stories when most of the origin stories are already written into Watchmen? I don't get it.
  2. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx That's exactly my beef with it. There is origin stories left and right in Watchmen. We don't need to know how The Watchmen were formed and how they fell apart - all of that is in the original book.

    A member of 4Chan said it best - so Before Watchmen is basically the intro of the film spread across seven books?

    Still, I'd love to see more of early Rorschach, Nite Owl, and Comedian. Especially during the Vietnam days. Manhattan might be cool too, but I'm pretty sure we know everything we need to know about him. I think Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, and Minuteman are the least exciting of the four. More on them is a bit pointless.

    Thing I'm most concerned about though is the implications this will have on the original. We will no longer be able to just talk about Watchmen. Having prequel books makes it much more difficult to discuss, and the whole thing becomes convoluted.
  3. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster If it's not endorsed by Alan Moore it is not legit and I have zero interest.

    Brian Azzarello more or less ripped off Frank Miller's Sin City when he created 100 bullets, so no surprise he will ride Moore's coat tails for more Watchmen content.
  4. SpencerForHire
    SpencerForHire So really this comes down to who really will watch the (pre) Watchmen?
  5. CB
    CB Moore doesn't get a say any more. He's a crazy person now.
  6. BHHammy
    BHHammy Oh, hey, look. More of DC's shenanigans. More screwing the folks they made sign contracts way back when over the control of their content? STOP THE PRESSES!

    To be fair, though, DC has been hitting critical-mass levels of shameless lately.
  7. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster @CB - Could a truly insane man give us The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Alan Moore is eccentric no doubt, but crazy, I'm not sure I'd call him that. He has a gripe with his corporate masters. Many great artists do at some point.

    I quote Rush,

    "One likes to believe in the freedom of music (or art),
    But glittering prizes and endless compromises
    Shatter the illusion of integrity."
  8. RahnalH102
    RahnalH102 Like what has already been said: Is this really needed, considering each had their back-story explained in the original?

    I can understand little spin-off adventures, but other then that I don't see a point.

    I'll just hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.
  9. CB
    CB He gave us some great works in the past, but like George Lucas, his creativity and his ego seem to have swirled around one another until a monster was formed.

    At least he hasn't also been writing shit stories lately, like Frank Miller. Poor guy.
  10. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx I'm with @CB on this one. Moore's lack of involvement is much less a concern for me today than it would have back in the late 80's. He really has become a bitter old coot who stays pent up indoors all day long.

    He hates on his previous work all the time. He's become infamous on his hate for The Killing Joke. I love Killing Joke, and I consider it to be one of the most important pieces of Batman canon. It's important, and Moore doesn't care.

    He's just... very bitter. George Lucas is the perfect comparison.
  11. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster George Lucas is still my hero, I don't care what you bitter old fanboys say. :p

    @UPSLynx - Alan Moore does not hate The Killing Joke, he just says its not his best work, its not interesting to him in the way other books are. I find that kind of self criticism kind of refreshing... That said, I think The Killing Joke is a fantastic bit of Batman fiction, but at the end of the day, it Batman fiction.... It's not Shakespeare, and I think that's all Moore wanted to say. He can't win, if he says its the finest Batman story ever, he looks like an egomaniac, if he says, meh, not my best work, you are let down that he discounted something you love.

    http://www.blather.net/articles/amoore/brought-to-light1.html

    That said, Alan Moore wrote the Watchmen, it's his, and as long as he is living and breathing any artist that would tread on his turf is a scum bag for not going to him for his blessing. @CB - you are a published author. I figured you would be on Moore's side?
  12. Winfrey
    Winfrey Heh, there's no rule that authors stick up for one another, some even actively hate one another for no other reason than their work.

    See: Hemingway, Ernest.
  13. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum That's not a fair case, Hemingway hated himself!
  14. Winfrey
    Winfrey Fair enough, I retract my argument and eat another gummi bear.
  15. CB
    CB I'm all for author's rights, but it's not that simple. A novel or short story, like what I write is a solo enterprise, invented only from my head, and not commissioned by anyone.

    A comic book or graphic novel is completely different.

    First, it's a commissioned work. In this case: DC hired Moore to write an edgy graphic novel with little known characters. It was not his idea from the start.

    Second, he wasn't the only one who worked on it. He was the writer the same way the writer of a screenplay is the writer of the final film. Sure he drafted the original, but it went through many other hands, including all the artists, who are as much a part of the creation as Moore is.

    In this specific case, Moore didn't even invent these characters. Here's the story:

    -DC was in a buying binge, picking up the rights to a bunch of defunct and little used comics properties, including Charlton Comics' characters in 1983.
    -DC decided that they needed new titles to show off their new acquisitions, and get them back into the public conciseness.
    -A project was started that would feature the Charlton characters in an alternate earth. This is the project that would eventiually become Watchmen.
    -After Moore submitted a draft for the project featuring the Charlton characters, DC decided that the characters wouldn't be suitable for that story (why is just supposition, but I think it was because the story was too terminal for the characters). They instead decided that the Charlton characters would be worked into the main DC story-world (this happened in the Criss on Infinite Earths event in '85).
    -Moore was told that the project was still on, however, he just needed to change the characters.
    -Moore changed the names and costumes of the Charlton characters and the Watchmen were born.

    This isn't authorship anymore, it's an artistic process, one which was owned, funded, published, and marketed by DC, who Moore was employed by.
  16. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster @CB - I'll concede to a reasonable and well positioned argument. Well played.

    I still think Moore has a reasonable gripe on some degree of principle, but your case is well made and I see your point.

    Screen cap this one, it may never happen again!
  17. Koreish
    Koreish @UPSLynx I'm pretty sure that this was not the first generation of the Watchman it's the second generation of the Watchmen which is a spinoff from the MinuteMen. Not a big deal but, I thought I'd point it out.

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