If you’re a comic book fan, you’ve probably read Watchmen. If you haven’t, there’s really no excuse and you should get your hands on a copy and read it straight through. Right now. I’ll wait…
Well, what did you think? I KNOW RIGHT!
I don’t need to get into reasons why this is arguably the greatest comic ever written or reasons why it’s a comic NOT a graphic novel. It’s generally believed that Alan Moore’s writings are more literary than the medium is accustomed to and that being the case, Watchmen would be his magnum opus. It’s a perfect concept, executed with such precision that it may never be out done and who in their right minds would want to attempt to build upon it? DC, that’s who. DC Entertainment has decided the time is right for a revisit to the world of the Watchmen and they’ve brought in some heavy hitters to make sure this hits like a psychic shockwave.
If the very concept of a sequel to Watchmen sets your very blood a boil don’t worry it gets better, “Before” means it’s a *twitch* prequel *shudder*. Yay! If there’s one thing that definitely does NOT ruin a beloved piece of fiction it’s a prequel.
Still, part of me really wants this to be awesome and the slate of artists and writers on board makes that a real possibility. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Darwyn Cooke at a convention and sat in on a very intimate Q&A about writing comics with a handful of other nerds. I asked him if he enjoyed playing in other people’s sandboxes as a way of skipping the need to create a back story and just have fun with someone else’s creation like he did with DC’s NEw Frontier (which I had him autograph an Absolute Edition of to my son). While discussing it he touched on working on something I was sure to recognize, but he of course couldn’t discuss and now I understand why.
The new material will consist of 7 miniseries, an Epilogue featuring the work of various writers and artists and a new pirate story called CRIMSON CORSAIR with original series editor Len Wein as Writer and artist John Higgins.
COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
Original series artist Dave Gibbons has given his blessing of DC’s need to produce more Watchmen material (NOTE: substitute “blessing” with “acknowledgement” and “need” with “greed”) and it really is a need at this point. From the overhauling of their entire comic line to the new rebranding and the stagnant state of their non-bat related film, DC is hemorrhaging and trying to stop the bleeding by stuffing crap in the wound. Before Watchmen could be the penicillin they need or the point at which the wound turns gangrenous. If you want to hear Alan Moore’s opinion on Before Watchmen, then I suggest you take a couple of hours and watch the video here, otherwise you can just look at this picture of Alan coming as close to normal as the cat gets.
The real problem for me is that I always felt Moore created just enough back story for each character to show us who they were and what their motivation was. In some cases, we know more about them than we do some of the most iconic characters in fiction. If there was one area on that list that could use more fleshing out it would be the one Mr. Cooke snapped up the writing and art for, the Minutemen. I honestly can’t wait to see what the man does with those characters. The cover alone put me way over on the GEEKGASM side of argument for that comic. As for the rest we’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the Rorschach, Silk Spectre and Minutemen books could be stand out additions to an already classic piece of comic-dom.
I sit on the fence with this one. It brings me both pleasure and pain, but this summer I’ll either be giggling like a school girl or screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” at the top of my lungs like an emo enraged Vader throwing a hissy fit.
Come on Darwyn, please don’t make me Vader.