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With the Before Watchmen issues coming out, I was keen to pick up the Comedian’s miniseries. Not only is he one of the more interesting characters in the hit graphic novel but he also predates the Watchmen group.
We find Edward Blake in his home late at night as he listens to music. He finds an old baseball, and begins to reminisce. He goes back to his days when he was friends with the Kennedy family. He is playing football with Jack and Ted Kennedy while Jackie Kennedy, Jack’s wife, looks on. Comedian makes his way into the Kennedy home where he speaks with Jackie. The two discuss the interest of Comedian in their family. As Jackie tries to get Comedian to admit his love for Jack, he will only admit he respects him. They finally come to the conclusion of Comedian’s complete respect for the boys even though; Jackie pierces away at her mythical family. She brings up Ms. Marilyn Monroe who Jack has been sleeping with, and Jackie persuades Comedian to take care of the situation. He does it, and moves onto a bar. He talks with the Kennedy brothers who he had made bets with either. He is apparently not doing too well, and wants to continue going. They conclude a bargain, and go on. As Comedian is about to leave on a plane, a FBI agent stops him, and wants him to take care of Moloch the Mystic. Blake stops him just as Walter Cronkite is announcing Kennedy has been shot. The two men stop their battle of good versus evil, and Mr. Moloch poses the question: “What are we going to do now?”
Brian Azzarello does a fine job here. He makes Blake more of a character you sympathize. He has had a troubling life, and Mr. Azzarello tries to bring that out rather than leave his anger as the thing motivating him. The only troubling thing is that in the graphic novel Watchmen, the Comedian is hinted at being the one who killed JFK. However here, we have Blake taking down Moloch as it happens. It doesn’t add up but yet again, Azzarello may just be writing this page in history down as Eddie being innocent. Backing Azzarello up is JG Jones who does a magnificent job capturing that past era of American history. He really manages to capture every detail of that time but also capture the Watchmen-esque take on that era made famous by Dave Gibbons. While it had an issue with continuity, I cannot fault the issue for that. Mr. A may have wanted to clear Blake of that crime to make him a more sympathetic person… Who knows… All I know is that it is a good re-entry point for Comedian.
Tommy Zimmer gives the final thoughts of the week about Before Watchmen. – Nick
Before Watchmen, a new event being done by DC Comics to expand upon the universe of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, was laid out last week for readers of the popular graphic novel. With mini-series detailing the prior adventures of Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, the Silk Spectres, Rorshach, and the Comedian, it seems like an interesting proposition considering how popular the graphic novel was.
From a business standpoint, DC has a lot to gain from this. It is a wise idea for them to milk their franchise as much as possible especially to one that is pretty fertile territory for it. DC has left the graphic novel alone for about thirteen years, and has not tried anything like this. However, with the advent of the New 52 and Vertigo’s supposed relaunch, they have decided to come out with all guns blazing to try and reinvigorate their franchises. The real area for fans where this will come down to is the creative aspects.
While I love creators such as Brian Azzarello, Amanda Connor, and J. Michael Straczynski, fans will say they are not Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons despite their being some of the best writers and artists in the field today. People will feel they are stepping on holy ground, and they will make it impure. This will happen as a result of new ideas being introduced, and stories from their pasts changing from greater attention paid to them. Yet, I do not see any of this negatively. I think quite the opposite from the angry fan.
I see this as a great possibility for old and new fans alike of the graphic novel to see what happened in the past with these characters. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on the Rorshach or Comedian mini-series because they were my two favorite characters from the original graphic novel. I also think it is a wise move on DC’s part to begin milking the fertile franchises that have been left sitting there for many years while they did big events such as Final Crisis and Blackest Night but have never left as big an impact as much as The New 52-type events have.
Brian Middleton Jr. is the cover artist of Metahuman Press’s Invasion: The New Metahumans by Mark Oldfield, now available in print from Amazon! Follow his misadventures in writing, music, and art at octoberisfine.blogspot.com.
Ok, so, I’m assuming that if you’ve come to this website, you know what Watchmen is. I mean, it’s a seminal (some would say, the seminal) read of the superhero genre. Creators name drop this book on a regular basis when asked why they got into comics. Fans hold it up as the bar by which all comic books are measured. Seriously, if you haven’t heard a fellow comic book reader say, “Well, it’s no Watchmen, but…” you probably haven’t been to a comic book store with any regularity. This week, the comic book world was rocked (at least a little) by the news that DC Comics would be producing several prequels to the original, twelve-issue miniseries. Good news, right? Some folks would definitely say so. Other folks would vehemently disagree. Where do I stand on the issue? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Before we get started, I should probably break the issues down for you. I want you to be able to hold your own when the inevitable Watchmen Prequel Argument (hereafter referred to as WPA) breaks out. After we’ve covered the ground that both sides will surely bring up, I will bring up a third, slightly more ambiguous opinion for you to tout, which will allow you to shimmy between both sides, bring them together in an awkward (and likely, weird smelling) hug, and then reconcile them to each other, thus saving their friendship. It’s likely that you will be rewarded with Milk, and Oreo cookies (double-stuffed, of course). If that doesn’t inspire you to keep reading, I don’t know what will.
Let’s start with those comic book fans who will be reacting negatively to the prequel news. They will likely be the aggressors in the WPA. This group will include many comic book creators, many League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fans, and the eight people who reviewed ‘The Mirror of Love’ on Amazon.com (yes, I checked). This group will likely be saying, “Grr!” and such as the argument unfolds. They will probably state their reasons for disliking this news as such: “Alan Moore was given a bum contract by DC Comics, and should own the rights to Watchmen. He has repeatedly stated that he does not want to see a sequel or prequel made, and that he does not want anyone doing anything with the characters. And truthfully, the story was told, beginning, middle and end, in Watchmen, and doesn’t need explored any further. This is just a cash grab by the corporate minds that run DC Comics. Also, DC sux!” (Mind you, this may not happen verbatim, and the fan’s spelling of the word ‘sux’ may very. ‘Sucks’, ‘is teh suck’ and ‘suxors’ may also very well be used.)
On the other side of the WPA, there will be comic books fans who are nearly giddy with excitement. This group will include the newly revealed creators of the Watchmen Prequels, Amazon.com (who has exclusive digital rights to 100 different DC Comics graphic novels), and many, many genuinely enthused fans. You will easily recognize them, as they will be saying “Yippee, Hurray!” and the like. They will probably spell out their reasoning for rejoicing as follows: “DC owns the rights to Watchmen, and can do with it what they like. The characters are really just pastiches of the Charleston characters anyway. DC did everything that they could to reel Moore back in for more Watchmen stories, even offering him the rights in exchange for new stories, and he refused at every turn. Alan Moore has told a ton of stories with other people’s characters, he should let other creators have a turn with his. Also, DC is teh awesome!” (Yes, even grown men will say things like, ‘teh awesome’ when dealing with news that is this mind-boggling to them.)
So there you have it. The reasoning behind both the pro-, and the anti- sides of the WPA. At least the quickie, nutshell versions of them. You can now hold your own in a WPA. You may even be able to bring up a side of the argument that your fellow WPA-ers haven’t yet thought of. That’s awesome, right? What? You want to hear about this revolutionary new side to the WPA? The one with the Oreos (double-stuffed, of course), and the Milk? Okay. I’ll give it to you. I’ll spell it out. But you have to promise to use it responsibly. I believe that you will. You seem like an okay dude, or dudette.
My opinion on this whole deal? It’s this: Watchmen is a good comic. It’s enjoyable, and thought-provoking, and I believe that it was every bit as groundbreaking as everyone says it was, when it was first printed over twenty-five years ago. That’s right. It’s been more than twenty-five years since Watchmen was first printed. And we have yet to place another comic book up on that pedestal. We have been blessed with Fables, and Powers, and Casanova, and Y: the Last Man and Superman: For Tomorrow, and Spider-Man: Blue, and countless, near infinite other wonderful funny books, and we have never moved far enough past Watchmen to see that it is a great comic book among great comic books. It may shock you to know that the majority of my comic book reading friends have never read Watchmen. Why? Because for my wife, Fables is her Watchmen. Each month she finds herself enthralled by the romance of Bigby Wolf and Snow White, as well as the plights of the other Fables. My younger brother spends his time rendered speechless by the wonders experienced by the Bone brothers in Bone, and Lieam in Mouse Guard. My youngest brother, and many of my good friends are entirely captivated by the 616 Universe found in Marvel Comics. And myself? I love all of these and more. This news is just news to me. Both sides have great points, but in the end, if Watchmen wasn’t the only book sitting on the Pedestal of Untouchability, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about this. We’d all be hanging out together, drinking milk, and eating double-stuffed Oreos. And someone might ask, “What do you think of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman in the New 52?” And someone else might answer, “Well, it’s no Seaguy, and it’s no Finder, but it’s still pretty awesome to me!”
Brian Middleton was born and raised in the Mountain City, Altoona, Pennsylvania. He has always had a great interest in storytelling, and expresses this in stories, in artwork, and in song. You can hang out with him and follow his upcoming projects at http://octoberisfine.blogspot.com/!
Less than a month ago, A. P. Anderson commented on the then-rumored Watchmen prequels. Now he returns with his thoughts after the announcement from last week. -Nick
Well, it looks like DC has done it anyway. A few weeks ago I wrote an article begging DC not to do this. Not because Alan Moore should be the only one to write a Watchmen book, but because I felt it would cheapen the original.
Truth is Alan Moore was offered the rights back to Watchmen two years ago, but on the condition that he write some prequels and a sequel. Alan Moore kindly rejected the offer, which as we all know, isn’t his usual motive. I think Alan believes he is done with that part of his life. Rightly so. Pink Floyd(The Band) had a similar issue when Roger Waters quit.
I can also understand why Time Warner would say to D.C. “We need a Watchmen Sequel/Prequel. We want to do another film”. The Watchmen movie did substantially well for an R rated super hero film. It broke a trend. I mean look at some of the others before it, namely the Punisher films. They didn’t do so well. Then bang! Watchmen breaks records for a R rated super hero film.
Seeing that most of the team from the original is back, and it has Gibbons’ blessing, and the teams attached, it might be good or it might be bad.
Personally I’m not going to get it. Maybe if I see one of the trades for a dollar on Amazon, I might pick it up. Really I’ve lost hope in mainstream comics. I still buy Superman, Action Comics, and occasionally an Ultimate Comics (insert whatever title you want). This move really applies to the fanboy I used to be. Every event, I used to buy every single issue that tied in. Now, I just want what I know will be a good read.