So this Watchmen prequel thing is happening, finally, because god knows prequels always turn out great, and it's only been rumored for about 50 years. (Okay, fine. Since 1986.) I really like the Times' story about all of this, mostly because of these two chunks, including the official response from Watchmen writer Alan Moore:
Mr. Moore, who has disassociated himself from DC Comics and the industry at large, called the new venture “completely shameless.”
Speaking by telephone from his home in Northampton, England, Mr. Moore said, “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.”
The novelist Jonathan Lethem admitted in a telephone interview to “an instinctive, protective scorn” of any effort to revisit Watchmen.
“That story was absolutely consummate and an enunciation as complete as any artwork in any realm,” he said. “And it’s just inviting a disgrace, basically, to try to extend any aspect of it.”
Yet, Mr. Lethem added, the referential nature of the original Watchmen—which was inspired by earlier superhero characters and drew upon a grab bag of influences, including the Bible, the sonnets of Shelley and “The Threepenny Opera” to tell its story—begged for the graphic novel to be reinterpreted.
“In the greater scheme of things,” he said, “there’s an ecological law, almost, that it ought to be.”
They're both right. Of course there shouldn't be any more Watchmen stories, and of course it was inevitable there would be, whether Moore or Dave Gibbons or
God Ozymandias wants them to exist or not.
While Bizarro Stan Lee might have the best take on it, one can't say DC didn't line up a hell of a bullpen to prequelize comic-dom's most most highly regarded comic. This summer's Before Watchmen line will be made up of several miniseries, focusing on different Watchmen characters before Moore and Gibbons' story. Via DC:
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
Damn. That's a lot of comics' heavy hitters, and while I'm genuinely surprised to not see DC's superstar Grant Morrison on that list—my entirely unsubstantiated, wholly unreliable guess is that DC asked him, though, and he said no—it makes a pretty convincing case for checking out the books. (I might not have any interest in a Watchmen prequel, but I do have an interest in new work from Darwyn Cooke and Brian Azzarello. So.)
But even with that lineup of creators, I can't see myself picking up any of these books. Maybe I will at some point, and I certainly will if people I trust tell me they're fantastic, but it's like Lethem says: Watchmen is as perfect of a thing as comics has, and it's a book that gets better every time I read it, and I have an incredible affection (or revulsion, as the case might be) for the book's characters, and I have absolutely no interest in seeing their earlier adventures. It's not that the whole Before Watchmen thing is unnecessary, it's that it seems uninteresting; I simply can't imagine what could be in Before Watchmen that would make Watchmen any better.
Maybe I'll be proven wrong. But it doesn't really matter: In the near future, DC will have at least seven more Watchmen collections that will sit next to that ever-bestselling Watchmen trade in bookstores and digital comics apps. Maybe the stories within those books will be great, or maybe they'll be as soulless as fanboys are afraid they will be. Regardless, they're going to make DC a lot of money.