Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Before Watchmen

From nerdreamer
With everybody else weighing in on DC's recently announced Before Watchmen books, I figured I'd throw out my own thoughts for your delectation.

We know now that the books are going to form a prequel with stories set before and (possibly) during the main Watchmen story rather than as a sequel continuing from where the original finished. That, at least, is some small comfort.

I've posted before about any prequel / sequel and how I'd react and while I'm definitely of the opinion that a sequel would be bad, I'm still unsure as to the worth of any stories set in that world. If you'll pardon me for quoting myself, I said:
"To make any sort of connection, to make it worth the label of a Watchmen spin-off, prequel or sequel, the story would at the very least have to take place in the same world. And if it takes place in the same world, it's going to be compared with the original, and I think we all know how that's going to turn out."
and I think that still stands.

With the release of the official announcement and the covers of the first issues, though, there's been a heck of a lot of commentary about whether or not DC should be doing this, despite the fantastic talent they have involved. And, not surprisingly, Alan Moore himself isn't best pleased:
"I don’t want money... What I want is for this not to happen."
That, of course, isn't an option - DC are doing it because they own the characters and they can publish as much new stuff about them as they want regardless of the arguments about whether they should.

My thoughts, I have to admit, are none the clearer for seeing the covers of the various series:

The Comedian looks like he's walked straight out of an S&M club with that zipper mask, a thought that never once occurred to me the many times I read the original. And the blood splatter? It's there solely to reinforce who the character is and thus looks gratuitous.

The Crimson Corsair is the two page back-up story that will run throughout all the series, parodying (or at least echoing) Tales of The Black Freighter in the original.

Dr. Manhattan will at least have the gorgeous artwork of Adam Hughes, someone who is nonetheless reknowned for not sticking to a monthly schedule but I have to admit writer J. Michael Straczynski sort of leaves me cold most of the time.

Darwyn Cooke's art looks spot-on for Minutemen, no doubt about that.

Batman often looks brooding and menacing as he looks down on his city. Here, Nite Owl looks like he's taking a dump in a chimney.

Another artist not exactly known for staying on schedule, Ozymandias's Jae Lee gets what, for me, sounds like the least interesting book of the lot.

The coolest cover of the lot, Rorschach boasts a fan favourite team and a writer that's earned a lot of love from fans.

As much as I love Amanda Conner's artwork, is there really much more we need to know about Silk Spectre? Even if it is written by Darwyn Cooke?

I have to admit, on the whole my enthusiasm for this project is low - not because I don't think it should be done but simply because I can't think what it will add to the original. I may be proven wrong and each of these stories may just be the best thing ever. I don't know and will likely not make my mind up until we hear more about the books.

Regarding Alan Moore's opposition to this project, though, I want to share what Peter David said in this Newsarama article:
"I think Moore is on more slippery grounds, asserting that these prequels are DC's simply depending upon 25 year old ideas of his, implying that it’s a sign of some sort of creative bankruptcy. Yes, Moore — whom I’ve never had the honor of meeting — is correct that there is no sequel to “Moby Dick.” But Moore’s position is odd considering he took characters created by Jules Verne and Bram Stoker and turned them into superheroes, and transformed beloved literary heroines into subjects of erotica. Does public domain automatically make one morally superior in recycling the iconic characters created by authors who are no longer around to voice their protests? Considering his Moby Dick comparison, apparently he doesn’t think so. Does the fact that it's a corporation taking the initiative rather than a single individual automatically make the endeavor inferior? That’s a hard argument to make considering that a corporate entity desiring to utilize its properties led to “Watchmen” in the first place. The fact that Moore is so vehemently opposed to the other authors working upon his characters — characters that are pastiches of Charlton Comics creators — might tell you something about how L. Frank Baum would likely have reacted to Moore's handling of Dorothy. And if that's the case, people who stridently protest Watchmen prequels might want to reconsider the moral validity of their ire."
It really is worthwhile keeping that in mind - Moore has done something similar to what DC is doing.

And who knows, they might even turn out to be good.

From Our Valued Customers

From Ty Templeton's blog - click the picture to read the rest.
Though I still can't help but think doing something original with the talent involved would be a better, more rewarding exercise.

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