Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Set your clocks back

Look upon my Microsoft Paint work and despair

Before Wednesday morning’s big news, I was all ready to write about the wish-fulfillment aspects of DC’s reprint program. Maybe next week.

Now, though, we’ve got Before Watchmen*, seven miniseries and a one-shot in the Seven Soldiers mode, and no doubt collection-ready. Please pardon my cynicism, but with all due respect to the impressive roster of professionals involved, this could have easily been subtitled We’re Back For More Cash.

To be clear, I understand DC wanting to make money off its intellectual property.  A while ago I argued that one purpose of the current Shade miniseries is to fill another slot on bookshelves next to the rest of James Robinson’s Starman collections. Starman was one of the rare series where one writer introduced a character (Jack Knight) and took him through a series of adventures, until that character reached the natural endpoint of his life’s particular phase. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman preceded it, and Garth Ennis’ Hitman followed. (Working with writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns, Robinson tied Starman into the JSA revival as well.)

Robinson hasn’t returned to the character of Jack Knight since Starman ended, although he used a few Starman characters in his Justice League work (and I’m pretty sure one of the supporting cast showed up in the year-long Trinity miniseries, with which Robinson was not involved) — but more to the point, no new creative team has explored what Jack, or Sandman’s Morpheus, or Hitman’s Tommy Monaghan, has done since their various series ended. There is a firewall around these characters, if not their unique milieux, apparently reinforced only by friendly agreement. When there are cracks — when Morpheus’ successor Daniel showed up in Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA, or when Paul Cornell and Pete Woods had Sandman’s Death meet Lex Luthor in Action Comics — it’s a big deal. I’d even go so far as to say that the old Multiverse was an in-story manifestation of such firewalls: all those Golden Age stories shunted to Earth-Two pretty much as-is, with the same going for the Fawcett (i.e., Marvel Family) characters on Earth-S, and yes, the Charlton characters on Earth-Four.

Indeed, at the risk of being obvious, Watchmen exists in its present form because DC didn’t want to let Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons put the Charlton characters themselves through the wringer. Thus, over the past twenty-five years, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Peter Cannon, and the Question have each had their own ongoing series, and each has enjoyed various degrees of success in the context of the larger DC superhero line. Ironically, there’s a distinct Doctor Manhattan influence in both the Captain Adam of Final Crisis and the New-52′s Cap, and the Question’s appearances on “Justice League Unlimited” recast the character as more conspiracy-minded, a la Rorschach. Of course, the Question and Blue Beetle who came over from Charlton have since died, and the New-52 setup doesn’t seem to leave much room for either to return.

The larger issue, though, is the extent to which these characters can be allowed to rest. J. Michael Straczynski, who is writing the Doctor Manhattan and Nite-Owl miniseries, told CBR

[a] lot of folks feel that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan, and while that’s absolutely understandable on an emotional level, it’s deeply flawed on a logical level. Based on durability and recognition, one could make the argument that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But neither Alan nor anyone else has ever suggested that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should ever be allowed to write Superman. Alan didn’t pass on being brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein, and he did a terrific job. He didn’t say “No, no, I can’t, that’s Len’s character.” Nor should he have.

Mr. Straczynski’s response goes to the heart of work-for-hire comics; namely, that DC Comics owns (part of) Superman, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, and as a practical matter can dictate who writes and draws the comics featuring them. Put bluntly, Alan Moore knew what he was getting into when he took on Watchmen, because it was the same situation he entered into with Swamp Thing. In fact, on a conceptual level there is probably not much difference between Before Watchmen and the mileage Geoff Johns has gotten out of “Tygers,” Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Green Lantern Corps short story.

The real difference lies in the nature of the stories themselves. Superman and Swamp Thing were created to be ongoing characters with no definite endpoint, but Watchmen, Robinson’s Starman, Ennis’ Hitman, and Gaiman’s Sandman were all finite series. We can argue about whether creative teams other than Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster or Len Wein and Berni Wrightson have “done right by” Superman or Swamp Thing, but when you have a singular vision determining virtually every aspect of a particular series from beginning to end, it becomes a lot harder to disassociate that vision from that series. For example, Straczynski himself is associated pretty strongly with “Babylon 5,” the TV series he created and produced, so much so that any subsequent “B5″ projects would no doubt seek his blessing, especially if the series were considered to have told a story complete unto itself.

To be sure, more “Babylon 5″ might well receive and/or deserve those blessings, just as the Before Watchmen books might be worthwhile on their own merits. Certainly none of the professionals involved sets out to make bad comics, and certainly none of them will want to bring anything less than their best. Still, they’re in an unenviable situation, trying to do work which honors the original while still being original enough to justify its own existence. This is nothing new for work-for-hire comics, but the degree of difficulty is much higher.

And the thing is, DC does not need more Watchmen in the same way that it needs to keep publishing Batman, Superman, and Swamp Thing comics. As long as there is a DC Comics, there will be more Batman and Superman books, with dozens more creative teams looking to recapture what they first loved about those characters. Making sure those characters endure is fundamental to DC’s business model, and if some good comics come out of it, that’s just gravy. Accordingly, DC has no interest in producing the last Superman story, whether it’s “Doomsday!” or “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” As we saw last summer, DC doesn’t do endings, it does relaunches.

Accordingly, it’s helped nurture a culture where more of anything successful is implied, if not expected outright. As Tom Spurgeon tweeted, “the real takeaway here may be the sadness that [...] DC’s attempts to do Another Watchmen [are] now becoming doing More Watchmen.”

Now, I am not necessarily arguing against More. Personally, I’d love more of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Team 13, more Thriller by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor von Eeden, and more ’Mazing Man from Bob Rozakis and Stephen DeStefano — but mainly because I think those creators could do more with those characters. Conversely, a creator’s triumphant return to a particular subject doesn’t always produce the same kind of work (see, e.g., Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again).

At its best, the world of corporate superhero comics allows tradition and ritual to exist alongside creativity and innovation. On Monday I was glad to hear about upcoming collections of Amethyst, Mike Barr and Alan Davis’ Detective Comics, and Len Wein and Dave Gibbons’ Green Lantern. I’m also looking forward to the Trials Of Wonder Woman and All-Star Squadron reprints. Maybe next week I will get to talk about these in more detail. They’re all entertaining segments of ongoing series** which, for various reasons, were highlights either of those particular series or of DC’s superhero line. Each played within the rules of that superhero line, and none set out to be multilayered examinations of the comic-book form and/or the superhero-comics genre.

Nevertheless, it should be an elementary observation, but it bears repeating here: not every superhero comic must follow Watchmen, nor must Watchmen be as exploitable as the average monthly comic. While DC is free to do what it wants with the intellectual property it owns, it should have the same respect for Watchmen that it does for Jack Knight and Morpheus.

Again, it all comes down to the nature of the original work. Not only did Watchmen tell a complete story, set in its own unique world, it was designed specifically to be self-contained. The clockwork motif of an insular system which has to deal with unpredictable elements is one of the work’s core elements. DC may want to honor Watchmen with these prequels, but the work really doesn’t require them; and despite Moore and Gibbons’ exploratory steps to the contrary, the story as it exists almost discourages them.

Look, I know I don’t have to read any of the Before Watchmen comics. I realize these could turn out to be some very well-done comics, and I am guilty of prejudging something of which I have not read one page. It’s the kind of maddening thing which dares one to read it just so one can have an informed opinion, and by that time DC already has one’s money. If this project put these creative teams on the Earth-4 versions of the original Charlton characters — even if DC said This is Watchmen 2 with the names changed — I’d be all for it. That would at least be a touch newer than filling in the gaps of a pretty seamless narrative. No matter how much effort is put into these prequels, no matter how pure the intentions, no matter how polished the product, for a lot of fans this will be a reminder that DC did something because it could, because it would be relatively easy, and because it knew it would attract a truckload of attention. In an artistic field where potential is only limited by imagination, for DC to make such a reflexively conservative choice is incredibly disappointing.

+++++++++++++++

* [In one respect the title was inevitable. Back when hype about the Watchmen movie was supercharging book sales, DC reprinted a number of single issues under the banner “After Watchmen.”]

** [Amethyst started out as a 12-issue miniseries, and at first it wasn’t part of the main superhero continuity.]

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Comments

38 Comments

Good article, well put.

This whole situation also shows who is under the corporate thumb, the ones who know that if they speak out about the hit to creator respect that Beyond Watchmen symbolizes, they’ll be out of work until the regime changes. And once the sales numbers come in, DC will realize whether or not they can keep it up. Because if this is a hit, they will have been given full permission to treat creators like absolute dirt.

And JMS, Azzarello, Connor, etc… are complicit.

I agree with all of the above, and would like to expand on one point:

I hear references to the fact that Moore based Watchmen on the Charlton characters, and that since he did, it’s okay for people to do their own riffs on the Watchmen characters. I agree with this, except Moore had the courtesy (even if it was originally suggested by DC) to create new characters, instead of using the Charlton characters. That’s a BIG difference.

I understand why DC wants to do this. They’re owned by Time Warner, and Time Warner wants to make money. Watchmen will make them money, therefore, they want more Watchmen. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

What I don’t understand is the viewpoint of the creators. If they have a story idea that’s born from the Watchmen characters and their stories, why don’t they make their own Watchmen ciphers and use those as a starting point? Even if they don’t like Watchmen, the work, they have to at least respect it, as one creator to another… Right?

If these “creators” wanted to pay a real tribute to Watchmen, they should have attempted a work of equal quality, maybe they should have even tried to top it.

Please.

Moore signed a contract with DC back in the mid ’80′s, decades after everyone, especially creators, knowing the rules of work for hire and taking their characters to indie publishers or self publishing and completely owning the characters.

I don’t fault publishers from using their characters one iota. I want to have the choice of buying or not buying more exploits of, say, the Watchmen. If they don’t publish it, I can’t very well buy, and support, those characters, can I ? If I don’t like what they do to a character, or title, or the creative team’s work, I skip it.

Looking forward to Before Watchmen and the work of an all star set of creators.

Hondobre,

While we don’t know the particulars, it is pretty well documented that DC deceived Moore on the contract. I don’t think you can say that he doesn’t deserve the rights to his own work just because he was young and signed a bad contract – hindsight is 20-20 and all that.

But I do agree you can’t blame DC for using the characters they legally own – I blame the creators for taking the assignment.

“I agree with this, except Moore had the courtesy (even if it was originally suggested by DC) to create new characters, instead of using the Charlton characters. That’s a BIG difference.”

He set out to write the very same story with them as Charlton characters, changing only after DC said they no longer felt comfortable using the Charlton names and appearances in the book. Moore didn’t have “the courtesy”, but the direction of his employer.

I think you will be missing out on some really good comics.

And the rest…I don’t know, but it doesn’t really disappoint me in the least. Then again, I think by now DC can do no wrong for me. I love DC that much.

Kevin Huxford,

While DC may have ordered Moore to not use the Charlton characters, he did much more than simply change their names – he created whole new characters and made them his own.

It was inevitable that DC would eventually rape and pillage Moore’s Watchmen.
And it’s only a matter of time before DC also rapes and pillages Robinson’s Jack Knight and Gaiman’s Morpheus.

This is what DC does. (Marvel, too.) Since Siegal and Shuster, DC has proven over and over that they have not one iota of respect for creators or their creations. They only worship the almighty dollar.

We shouldn’t be shocked by this any more than we’d be shocked by seeing a dog lick its genitals.

Alan Moore shouldn’t have done anything for or under the dc/vertigo name if he didn’t expect his characters to be used again. I’m not sure that the creator of the Invisible man, Dr. Jeckyll, Captain Nemo etc. would have wanted their characters used in the way Alan Moore did with The League of Extraordinary gentlemen, so my advice to everyone including Alan Moore is to get over it, be happy that long after you stopped writing the watchmen that people still want more, I like just about everything Moore has done but i will not say that he or anyone is entitled to be the only one to write about them.

This is what DC’s corporate overlords would call “leveraging a brand.” Unnecessary, but definitely inevitable.

Personally, I’ve grown a bit tired of the way Alan Moore is placed on a pedestal by comic fans and industry pros. If his ideas were just so stupendous, so unique, so not derived from DC properties, why didn’t he take his work to one of the small presses that were abundant in the 80s and get it published there? Instead, he chose to dance with the devil, as it were, and well, it brought him a lot of fame and fortune, didn’t it? Darn it, shoulda read that fine print!!

While I’m pretty neutral on the subject, there are some things that standout to me.

DC isn’t doing anything illegal but this is simply just more bad business.

Highlighting the “deals” that Gaiman, Robinson, and Ennis in contrast to DC and their relationship with Moore is spot on. When JMS says that DC offered Moore ownership of Watchmen back for the ok to do more stories with the characters and say Moore is assed out for turning the deal down seems shortsighted. (Perhaps on purpose) what DC wanted was the exact thing that Moore didn’t.

The supposed Moore double standard that many are attributing to him ( similar to the grumpy old man image is gained over recent years) is also a bit hollow. When Moore says that Watchmen shouldn’t be touched, that’s less his ego talking and more him trying to warn of the potential fallout from forging ahead with a project of this nature.

When some (including Moore – although he may be doing so on purpose) ask why DC doesn’t create something new, it’s simple. DC ( and Marvel) doesn’t know how to sell any of their IP. Batman, X Men, Spider Man, and like – they sell themselves. DC Comics has little to do with the success of the Batman films. Marvel Studios has no say on any of the X Men films. The Avengers franchise has some input from the comic division but the studio is simply following how the comic division is run, which is simply copying how many movie studios are run.

There’s barely any incentive for creators to create new characters. For Geoff Johns, there’s plenty. For Morrison, of course. ( Hello deluxe WE3, 1000 page tome Omnibus Invisbles)
You know what Marvel highlighting Bendis, Aaron, Fraction, Hickman, and Brubaker really says? These are the creators who will get extra benefits. For the thousands of Avenger issues that you’ve written over years, will put out your next pet project.

Waving a figure at the creators for taking the Watchmen job is also a little shortsighted. This was going to happen anyway. DC made their decision a while ago. If anything, taking the job is more of a challenge due to the fact that it’s a prequel. All of these stories will have to ultimately put the characters in the positions they were at Watchmens’ beginning. That automatically handcuffs the creators but they do work on American Big 2 comics. Being handcuffed usually comes with the job.

Saying that the comics will suck because you don’t like the idea of the comics is also very hollow. I’ve seen too many on the net make that dubious distinction already.

If I’m not mistaken, the reason no one has done more of Gaiman’s Morpheus is not out of respect, but because it was a contractual obligation — Gaiman had in writing that Morpheus couldn’t be used outside of works he’s penned himself without his express permission. This didn’t extend to other characters from Sandman, just specifically Morpheus. I believe I heard Neil say as much in an interview.

I’m not going to even bother with any of this prequel nonsense because I respect the work too much. Watchmen is as close to perfection, in my book, as you get. This stance is less out of respect for Moore than for my own personal enjoyment of it. Maybe these comics will be absolutely fantastic, but I’d like to be able to re-read Watchmen in the future without bringing in negative associations. To be honest, even if Alan had given this his blessing and had written them himself, I’d be highly skeptical. I’ve never read The Dark Knight Strikes Again, partly because I’ve yet to hear anything positive about it, but mostly because I don’t want to tarnish my enjoyment of the original.

I have lost a huge amount of respect for DC as whole, and in particular the creators who took on this assignment. I won’t go as far as to try to punish DC by never buying another comic they produce — that wouldn’t at all be fair to a large number of people who may also think this is a horrible idea; I’d love to find out who may have been offered this gig and turned it down — but I have to admit, I’ll think twice about supporting any of the creators involved in the future. (Note to Mr. Azzarello — I was on the fence about both Wonder Woman and Spaceman, thanks for helping make up my mind, they’re both off my pull list. And I’ve put off my plan to start picking up 100 Bullets TPBs, I’ll find something else to support. Enjoy your Before Watchmen checks, though!) This is a cash grab, pure and simple, by everyone involved, one of the most crass I think I’ve seen in the history of the medium.

If DC wanted specficially to try to create something new that had the same gravitas as Watchmen, finance these folks so that they could attempt to create something original and then use Watchmen as a reference point to promote the products, I’d have been completely fine with and wholly behind that. DC seems to be of the school of thought that there is no such thing as bad publicity, so I guess time will tell.

Bicycle-Repairman

February 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm

“Mr. Straczynski’s response goes to the heart of work-for-hire comics; namely, that DC Comics owns (part of) Superman, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, and as a practical matter can dictate who writes and draws the comics featuring them. Put bluntly, Alan Moore knew what he was getting into when he took on Watchmen, because it was the same situation he entered into with Swamp Thing.”

Isn’t the source of contention that Alan Moore didn’t create “Watchmen” as part of a standard work-for-hire agreement? Moore claims that the rights to “Watchmen” were supposed to revert back to him and Gibbons if the book went out of print. Moore also complained about late and missing royalty payments.

“Alan didn’t pass on being brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein, and he did a terrific job. He didn’t say ‘No, no, I can’t, that’s Len’s character.’ Nor should he have.”

That’s a different situation. Wein was the editor of “The Saga of the Swamp Thing” when he chose Moore to replace Martin Pasko as the writer of the series. If Wein felt that DC had ripped him off, swore to never work for DC again and was opposed to anyone writing further “Swamp Thing” stories, then Moore working on “Swamp Thing” would be comparable to Straczynski working on “Before Watchmen”.

It may be a cash grab but it’s also what allot of fan’s want. Who should deny the fans of what they want, I’ve read the original and loved it, but I’ve always wanted more, regardless of who writes or illustrates it. I guess that comes with being a fan of the characters and seeing them as beings instead of cartoons. Again I say get over it, wait til it’s over. Who knows they may just do it justice.

Agreed… Could you repair my bike?

When Alan Moore starts acting like a decent human being to Steve Bissette, Dave Gibbons, and others, then I’ll start feeling bad for him making hundreds of thousands of dollars off material he wrote heavily based on other people’s work.

I personally have little interest in this stuff, as the characters in Watchmen were not particularly creative or fascinating. It was the story as a whole, art and words, that had all the appeal.

Stripped of Moore and Gibbons involvement, the characters could be interchanged with dozens of others and not make much difference in the end result.

You could tell a Rorschach story with the Punisher, or a more manic Batman, or just reread a Mr. A story, as he’s basically the same character.

Dr. Manhattan could be the Silver Surfer, Superman, Captain Atom, Mr. Majestic, what have you. Any character with that much power could easily be written as struggling with how to relate to regular beings.

Nite Owl could be basically any costumed crime fighter ever, as seen in their middle aged years.

DC isn’t really plundering Moore’s work, so much as taking the logos associated with his quality story and using it to sell some comics.

For what it’s worth, GOF, Straczynski addressed the Babylon 5 comparison on this very site earlier today; I don’t know if you had a chance to read it before you composed your piece..

It was very illuminating as to the issues he and Moore both had regarding what any artist would regard as their creations, and also as to how the best of intentions can wind up being detrimental to the progeny. JMS’ opinion could be regarded as self-serving, obviously, but he also makes a strong case from his own experience.

As far as the series go,, the only one I might buy is Cooke’s Minutemen, simply because that’s the only place I see for presenting anything that comes close to the original piece in style structure and intent. Otherwise, my initial response is that they are nothing more than very pretty pictures around a very mercenary idea.

Even given that, it’s still more intriguing than AvX, which promises nothing but big stupid fights for an entire summer. Only Marvel could make DC look artistic when it come to money-grubbing.

RegularSyzedMike

February 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Only thing I have to add here is an observation. The majority of arguments I’ve seen AGAINST making more Watchmen are from an artistic standpoint while the majority of the arguments FOR making more has been from a corporate ownership standpoint. +/- 12% adjustment for liking or disliking Alan Moore or DC.

Here’s the sad thing to me: The Watchmen is a work of art that functions on many levels. You can read it several times and continue to get something new out of it each time. It is stylistically consistent. The end was shockingly unique and yet made sense, so it seemed inevitable.

These prequels will be have none of those qualities.

Not much they can do with Hitman because, y’know, HE’S DEAD.

Granted, they did do a great “untold story” a couple years back where he teamed up directly with the JLA to stop the Bloodlines characters and had both Green Lantern and Superman connect the dots… :), but nothing “new”.

get down to brass tacks… the work is usually more important than the creator.

“Not much they can do with Hitman because, y’know, HE’S DEAD.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Amethyst absolutely was part of the main super-hero continuity. Amy had a poster of Wonder Woman in her room and by issue 4 of the original 12 issue maxi-series, she had already appeared in DC Comics Presents with Superman.

Good efforts to write up!!

You know, this whole ordeal that’s been going on for the past 27 years or so, and I think should end. It seems like the only way for DC to be redeemed in the eyes of Moore (and get them to go back to focusing on creativity) is to do the unthinkable–if I was the one who took over DC in 2010, I certainly would’ve done it. What is this “unthinkable” I speak of? It’s this: suppose I had taken over DC. First thing I’d do? I’d forfeit the rights to all of Watchmen, and give them back to Alan Moore–I’d even do it in person, on my knees, BEGGING for reconciliation. Why I’d do it? Two reasons: 1) I’d want Moore to finally stop his grudge, and like Christy McNichol (to some extent) to come back to the medium, and 2) I don’t even like the Watchmen story, so in my mind, as far as I’m concerned, HE CAN HAVE IT BACK, no catch. The heck with it being a moneymaker, DC was wrong to “con” the guy, and Moore was wrong to sign the contract. (So yeah, I hold BOTH parties at fault.) This little scenario of mine is sort of like that recurring story element in the 1998 book Holes, by Louis Sachar, where one guy’s ancestor was supposed to carry the other guy’s up a mountain in Europe along with a pig to fulfill a bargain–in this case, fulfilling a forgotten promise to Moore by DC.

J. Michael Straczynski has said some more in reply to criticisms of his stance. http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/02/02/j-michael-straczynski-i-watchmen-babylon-5/
The main one is replying to, “How would he feel if Babylon 5 was remade/somethingsomething/etc?”

I must agree with Jason’s perceptive comment above:

“DC isn’t really plundering Moore’s work, so much as taking the logos associated with his quality story and using it to sell some comics.”

I’ve been reading comics for far too many years and I can still recall my pleasure on first reading the Watchmen.
I enjoyed every page of it and new form the very start this was a quality piece of; unlike anything I’d ever read before. It crossed over from pulp fiction into literature without really trying. It was a Complete piece of work.

The talent on the new books is so immense – I’m betting some very big checks and royalty payments were flashed around before contracts were signed – that as a comic fan you can’t help but wonder ‘what’s it like??’

But this series, as has been mentioned elsewhere, will have the same problem that George Lucas with his Star War prequels, we know what the end point is & there’s no room for movement.
Imagine an inverted pyramid, wide at the top and then focusing to a single recognisable point – that’s what freedom these books will have – Nothing!

Perhaps we can all send a $10 to DC now to stop them publishing it.

All the talent whoring themselves for this project should be ashamed.

DC, Straczynski, Azarello, Cooke, Bermejo, Hughes, Jones, the Kuberts, Conner, Higgins, all the people who’ll be buying “Before Watchmen” are responsible for repeating History.

I’m not a fan of the Before Watchmen idea, but I’m also not going to morally condemn anyone who wants to read it. That’s a slippery slope.

However, I think people should examine what they really like about Watchmen. I’m guessing it’s not the characters (as Jason pointed out eloquently above, they’re all familiar archetypes) as much as it’s the complex storytelling and themes and structure. And if you do feel affection for the characters, it’s only because they worked so well within the particular story that Moore and Gibbons told. I think the worry is that most of the writers of these new miniseries won’t get that distinction, and will instead treat it as “The previous adventures of…”.

I’m also in the camp that believes that the best tribute to Watchmen would have been to give these creative teams license to do something new and innovative, either with brand new characters or languishing obscure ones. The only argument I’ve seen against that is “Well, that wouldn’t have made DC as much money”, which should only matter to you if you are actually employed by DC. Also, you should be glad the editors who greenlit Watchmen back in the day didn’t think that way.

All that said, I’m intrigued by Cooke’s Minutemen, because it’s the blankest slate of all of them, and I trust Cooke to do something interesting and new with it. But there’s no way I’m paying $3.99 per issue. If the reviews are good, I’ll trade-wait it.

“Mr. Straczynski’s response goes to the heart of work-for-hire comics; namely, that DC Comics owns (part of) Superman, Swamp Thing, and Watchmen, and as a practical matter can dictate who writes and draws the comics featuring them. Put bluntly, Alan Moore knew what he was getting into when he took on Watchmen, because it was the same situation he entered into with Swamp Thing.”

Er, but it wasn’t. Watchmen wasn’t WFH, and Moore’s contract had a reversion clause. It was a completely different situation from Swamp Thing — or it was supposed to be.

For all this evil corporation stuff that people keep throwing out there, DC Comics was an “evil corporation” in the 80′s when the original story came out. For the Creator’s Rights Side out there, it is sad that DC ignores Moore’s wishes but it’s DC’s prerogative. If you’re upset that the artistic merit of Watchmen will diminish thanks to these prequels, don’t. The story will still exist as it was whether the prequels are all crap or if they are brilliant. No one is making you read them. I’m not interested in reading them but some people out there DO want to read them. This is business, pure and simple.

“There are certainly a number of things which my collaborators can do without me and many that they can do better but to breathe life into Tintin, Haddock, Calculus, the Thom(p)sons and all the others, I believe that only I can do that. … If others were to continue Tintin, they might do better, they might do worse. One thing is certain, they would do it differently and so it wouldn’t be Tintin any more!” – Herge

How many of the people currently buying Watchmen every week from Amazon (or wherever) are even aware of all of these details that us “fanboys” know? So, to that extent, isn’t it possible that these miniseries will help the retailer? Watchmen will always stand alone in it’s original form – and whether you agree or disagree – this does have the potential to drive more customers into stores. Or maybe it will work the other way around…someone picks up Cooke’s Minutemen, and that leads them to buy the Watchmen novel. Or maybe they get turned on to Amanda’s art or Cooke’s writing and search out other books by them. If the 20,000 or so people on the internet don’t buy it because of their beliefs, that’s fine. But if 100,000 people buy them and get hooked the same way we are, I can’t see that as a bad thing. I’ve been going to the same LCS for 17 years, watching him struggle, and anything that can help him drive new business legally (and it is), is alright by me.

I don’t see the fuss – this’ll just end up like those Kingdom Come sequels that no one will really remember having any positive or negative impact on the original work. 30 years from now Watchmen will still be a seminal work, but the prequels will barely be remembered.

Read whatever you want. But everybody who worked on this is a traitor to literature and to art. I am completely broken and dismayed that Amanda Conner is involved in this filth.

By all means, read what interests you, free from condemnation. But comic craftspersons who betrayed a great work: shame on every last one of you.

“Again, it all comes down to the nature of the original work. Not only did Watchmen tell a complete story, set in its own unique world, it was designed specifically to be self-contained. The clockwork motif of an insular system which has to deal with unpredictable elements is one of the work’s core elements. DC may want to honor Watchmen with these prequels, but the work really doesn’t require them; and despite Moore and Gibbons’ exploratory steps to the contrary, the story as it exists almost discourages them.”

This is exactly my main problem with the “Before Watchmen.” Everything else I am okay with (Moore vs. DC, etc.), but “Watchmen” seems to scream “The story’s done, nothing more that needs telling.”

“I don’t see the fuss – this’ll just end up like those Kingdom Come sequels that no one will really remember having any positive or negative impact on the original work. 30 years from now Watchmen will still be a seminal work, but the prequels will barely be remembered.”

This was an excellent point, because I bought all of those “The Kingdom” comics, but don’t remember much of them at all. However, I don’t think they’ll do this, then just move on and never touch the characters again. If it sells (and it will), they will be given an earth in the multiverse with one or two ongoings. I’m sure that’s what the one-shot at the end is all about. Ugh.

“So basically they’re not ours, but if DC is working with the characters in our interests then they might as well be. On the other hand, if the characters have outlived their natural life span and DC doesn’t want to do anything with them, then after a year we’ve got them and we can do what we want with them, which I’m perfectly happy with.”

Alan Moore interview in Comics Journal July 87. Sounds like he was fine with DC keeping the characters then…

Also everyone who is against this project keeps blabbing on about this contract between Moore and DC like they know everything about it and how it was evil and manipulative and all that… Has anyone actually seen the contract though? To the best of my knowledge everything the public knows about it is whatever Alan has said about it, and clearly he is biased.

One more thing, Moore and Gibbons were more than happy to cash the royalty cheques DC gave them for the first few years. Neither of them complained then and Gibbons doesn’t really complain now. It’s too bad Moore decided to change his mind after the fact because all it has really done is hurt the fans who will never get to read what probably could’ve been some more great Superman and Batman stories.

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