There was a massive shift in the force when DC Comics announced that it would be producing a collection of miniseries that would act as prequels for Watchmen. Remember, this is the publisher that earlier this year relaunched 52 different titles with reboots of story lines and characters to much varied reviews.
Watchmen is the legendary 12 issue mega series from 1986-1987 that is generally considered to be a high point in comic publishing. It won awards, people wrote thesis’ about the storyline and it was eventually turned into a movie in 2009. (The full length director’s cut on BluRay is the only way to watch it). EW’s Jeff Jensen wrote an outstanding essay on Watchmen back in 2005 and is a must read for anyone with an interest.
Now, DC wants to take the world of Watchmen and explore the main characters as they were in their youth and as a collective as is mentioned and depicted at great length in the original storyline. Much like the movie, the original writer, Alan Moore, refuses to have anything to do with the project and told the New York Times,
“completely shameless…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”, that the series is a reminder of “draconian contracts” he signed with DC and that “I don’t want money. What I want is for this not to happen… As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’”
While original artist Dave Gibbons has embraced the concept,
“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 have the success they desire,”
While my personal initial reaction was that of horror and distain, after thinking about it, I’m willing to give it a shot. The list of artists and writers lined up to do the different characters is of the highest level, J Michael Straczynski, Len Wein, Jae Lee, Adam Hughes and Darwyn Cooke to name a few. The original colorist of Watchmen, John Higgins will participate with a two page backup story at the end of each issue called, “Curse of the Crimson Corsair”, which harkens back to the original backstory “Tails of the Black Freighter“. It will be interesting to see how “Corsair” relates to these new stories as “Freighter” did to Watchmen.
Each of the following characters will get a run of at least four issues, some more: Rorschach, The Comedian, Dr Manhattan, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, The Minutemen and Silk Spectre.
First issues to hit this summer (dates, titles TBA) and at the end of the run everything will be collected in a single issue, with even more material.
My original knee-jerk reaction of “how can they?” has subsided into a curiosity and I’m certain I will be back in my comic shop (something I haven’t done regular in 10+ years) as soon as we know when #1 is due.