Alan Moore is wrong: like the comic book industry, publishers have long found it easy to bastardize classic piece of literature with superfluous sequels and prequels. So while his precise example of there not being “that many prequels or sequels to Moby-Dick” may be true enough, I know I’ve personally spent way too much fucking time covering shit like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and there’s more of that kind of thing to come…
And that’s exactly what I’m going to classify Before Watchmen — a recently announced roadmap of limited series Watchmen prequels from DC — as in my head. While yes, the original publisher is adding to the continuum in a way that will extend the “canon” in whatever metaphysical consumerist conception of storytelling the comic book universes represent, I still have no way to view this as more valuable than, say, Watchmen Vs. Frankenstein.
As you might imagine, Alan Moore is emphatically opposed to the publication of the series, though assuring that legal action is not in the cards because as he says, “I don’t want money. What I want is for this not happen.”
In any event the plans for the series are as follows (from the press release):
This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN,the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.
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
Each week, a new issue will be released, and will feature a two-page back-up story called CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR, written by original series editor Len Wein and with art by original series colorist John Higgins. There will also be a singleissue, BEFORE WATCHMEN: EPILOGUE, featuring the work of various writers and artists, and a CRIMSON CORSAIR story by Wein and Higgins.
What’s great is that even the qutoe from Dave Gibbons they shoved into the press release sounds vaguely insulting…
““The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions havethe success they desire.”
…which ostensibly translates to: “Alan and I’s shit is still brilliant and unfuckwithable, but I get that DC is going to cash in for whatever dollars they can. I hope that $$$ happens for them.”
There’s a lot of bullshit from the company about “the time for new stories” and keeping characters “relevant” which is hilarious considering the only reason you would ever pull a cash-in like this is because the characters are already still relevant.
Go ahead DC. Keep tooting that “keep all of our characters relevant” horn… we all know you need Watchmen more than Watchmen needs you.
Naturally, Moore has the most concise and wickedly sharp way of characterizing the endeavor.
“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.”
At the end of the day I don’t care enough to call this a disgrace, nor do I discount the possibility that a good writer could write good things with these good characters. But those same writers could continue turning their attention to perpetuity characters rather than tacking on bullshit to a purposefully close loop story. Frankly, I’m just shocked that Rorschach is only managing a 4-issue series after long being the most (hilariously ironic) target of geek worship and misplaced iconography.
Still, it’s silly to get angry because once these are published and fade from the mind, they’re the kinds of things you’d run across in an archive box (or more likely, a digital file list) in a few years and think to yourself, “Oh yeah, they did that.” It all tumbles out to apathy after a few moments pondering, but don’t worry DC, you have thoroughly earned my rolled eyes of scorn this morning.