I read with some interest Kyle’s thoughts on the recently announced “Before Watchmen” comics and still can’t seem to get my head around what makes it such a divisive subject. Since DC Comics let the cat out of the bag the internet has been awash with opinions ranging from the mildly disappointed to the needlessly venomous, but so far I’ve yet to see anybody treat it with the apathy it should really illicit.
I love Watchmen as much as the next man and recognise that it’s a book that’s very important to a lot of people, I just don’t understand how this project should have any bearing on somebody’s opinion of Moore/Gibbons’ original series.
The arguments so far tend to play out as follows:
“This is nothing but a cynical cash-grab by DC”
While this is is almost certainly true to a point, I think we can all accept that this could’ve been handled a lot worse. There’s a lot to respect about DC’s choices in creative team for each title, and you can see that at the very least they’ve tried to attach some of their more talented creators. A truly mercenary approach would’ve been to hire cheaper less established writers and artists and just churning out any old crap. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I can see how at the very least they’re putting some effort into their pointless endeavour. Choosing Azzarello for the grittier characters like Comedian and Rorschach, with Darwyn Cooke working on the older, more classic superhero tone of titles like Minutemen gives the impression that at least some thought has gone into finding appropriate creative teams.
“DC should be using the money for this project on funding original new ideas and finding the next Watchmen”
Again, at least a little bit true. In an ideal world there’d be a great deal of opportunity out there for new talent to develop their ideas and create the original titles that imprints at Vertigo are known for. If a focused initiative like this led to more titles like Scalped, Y:The Last Man, The Unwritten or 100 Bullets I’d be over the moon, but realistically there’s only really the market for this kind of thing in special cases. Everybody says they want creator-owned titles, but then when they’re put to print nobody buys them. An established and beloved universe like Watchmen’s comes with significantly less risk than a bold new title, so it stands to reason that DC might jump at the chance. If anything it’s just a surprise it took 25 years.
“Alan Moore never wanted any sequels/prequels”
Yes, Watchmen is a complete work. It’s a fully-realised universe where everything feels very deliberate and intentional and it’s a fair bet to assume that if Moore had a story he felt needed telling he would’ve done it already. That said, just because Alan Moore is done with the characters and universe it doesn’t mean that somebody else can’t find something worthwhile to do with it.For somebody who deals so heavily in established characters from other’s work, it seems strange for Moore to get on his high-horse about this.
Moore seems like a friendly, reasonable and amiable enough chap, but for somebody who claims to want no involvement in the handlings of his old work he certainly seems unable to resist commenting on it. I personally feel that if you want to take an isolationist approach to the comics industry then you can’t really be taking shots at them everytime they do something you’re not happy with. I understand that he has no real reason to be restraint when somebody jams a microphone in his face to ask his opinion, (as comic journalists are so often want to do) but questioning the current talent pool in the way that he does just seems kinda petty.
Really every point I’ve made there has been in response to the incredibly negative opinions that most have about this project before it’s even gotten off the ground. By that token I can see that it comes across as endorsement, when really what I’m trying to say more than anything else is that I don’t care.
Maybe the whole thing will turn out okay. The talent is certainly there. I won’t be picking up the series but if I hear good things I’ll check it out. A title that I’ll likely never read can’t really have any kind of impact on me, which I guess is why I’m so confused at how precious people are being about the issue.
If it sickens you then don’t read it. I assure you your current copy of Watchmen will remain completely unaffected.