I’m probably not going to be the first to say it, but I think it is great that DC Comics is going to pursue prequels.
Did I really write that?
When was the last time you saw a good prequel to anything? Godfather 2 was sort of a prequel and a sequel all in one. Hrm. I’m not thinking of much else. OK, Star Trek 2009 was fun and good for an odd-numbered Trek film. And Enterprise is a decent TV series if you give it a chance. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was the prequel to A Fistful of Dollars, so there’s a good one.
The Star Wars prequels—you either like ‘em or hate ‘em. But would you rather never have seen them, or were they more fun as an experience than the other films out of that decade? (Hold your answer for a later discussion).
So last week DC Comics announced prequels to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ highly regarded (and revered, by some) Watchmen comic book series. The new series will consistent of seven titles, all under the banner Before Watchmen. Mainstream press has reported that comic book readers are all “up in arms” over this—“the debate rages” they say. I call baloney. I know more comic book fans that will be interested in checking out Before Watchmen than not. Lots of highly regarded works have been revisited time and time again. Why not Watchmen?
The mainstream press says Before Watchmen is all about money. I call baloney again. Sure, everything is about money to an extent. Business is business and comic books are a business. But what comic writer or artist wouldn’t want to get their hands on the Watchmen characters? Why do some people think Watchmen is sacrosanct? Our greatest superheroes are constantly re-imagined. Does anyone really value Dr. Manhattan and Nite Owl over Superman and Batman?
Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Watchmen comic book, but I see the possibility for some cool things from the prequels. If anyone is angry I’d think it would be other DC writers and artists that don’t get to work on this project, as there is a lot of doubling up at least as writing duties are concerned.
By way of background, DC Comics announced the following details of who will be creating what books:
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
CRIMSON CORSAIR will be an added story in the various series. Writer: Len Wein. Artist: John Higgins
I will be checking out two of the books in particular. First, Rorschach, because I think he is the best character from Watchmen. I thought Lee Bermejo did a great job painting the standalone work Batman: Noel last year. I had been looking forward to his next project and Rorschach should be an interesting subject for him to take on.
Second, Adam Hughes is doing not just covers, but an ongoing series. (!) One of my favorite things about the New 52 is Hughes’s covers for Batgirl. His style is very 1940s, so he is a perfect choice for this retro-era comic book series, and since Silk Spectre must factor in greatly to Dr. Manhattan and his backstory, this might make the whole project worth doing. My question is why Hughes isn’t drawing the Silk Spectre title? I wasn’t a fan of Amanda Conner’s work on Green Arrow/ Black Canary and Silk Spectre was in part based on Black Canary, so I can think of a lot of other artists I’d like to see on that title. But I won’t pre-judge this one—her work on this new series may be great so we’ll just have to check it out when it is published.
All of Azzarello, Straczynski, Cooke, Lee and the Kuberts have their fan bases, so I am sure they will be pleased with these picks. But honestly, to join–for a second–the other camp, you do have to ask, if you really want to see what these characters are up to, why not check out the characters Alan Moore based these characters on, in their current, New 52 or other recent books? If you want to check out Dr. Manhattan, check out the awesome current Captain Atom series. If you want to read about Nite Owl, check out Blue Beetle (especially Ted Kord back-issues). If you want to see Silk Spectre, check out Nightshade in recent Suicide Squad back-issues, or Black Canary in the current Birds of Prey. Want to see the Comedian? Just look at Peacemaker in the pre-Flashpoint Blue Beetle series. Want to see Rorschach? There are tons of great series featuring the Question, and the recent Question, Renee Montoya, is as great a character as any.
Controversial news? Sure. A comic industry earthquake? Umm…. no. But they are prequels, so the odds are stacked against them from the get-go. Ultimately, they will succeed or fail because they have good stories (or don’t).
Tomorrow, Jason McClain and I will dig a little into Alan Moore and Watchmen.