Earlier this month, DC Comics (with new, somewhat maligned logo in tow) announced their major summer project for 2012: Before Watchmen, an all-new mini-series prequel event, expanding the history of the Watchmen universe.
But are the fans ready for it?
The dispute between author Alan Moore and DC Comics is fairly well documented. Moore has said, in no uncertain terms, that he would never work with DC professionally again. Because of that, the lore of the Watchmen had remained in tact — a complete story tackling the threat of then-contemporary evils like nuclear war, government control, and abuse of power. Anything else would be left up to the reader’s imagination.
And most of the cult following of the 1986 12-issue series would, I suspect, prefer it stay that way.
So when DC announced their plans for a prequel mini-series for the book, there was, understandably, a bit of a disturbance in the nerd force. Unsurprisingly, Moore himself wants none of this. Watchmen Co-creator Dave Gibbons, on the other hand, seems a little more positive about the project, but still ultimately declined being attached to it.
I admit, it is kind of DC’s M.O. to reboot what isn’t necessarily broken, but I am keeping an open mind about this one.
There exists an argument that professional crazy person Moore should be the only one to continue the story of the troubled vigilantes. It’s a fair point, but ultimately moot. DC’s going head first into this no matter how many angry petitions show up — so why not enjoy the ride? Did DC’s schuysters screw Watchmen’s original creators? Maybe. Probably. But it doesn’t change anything.
“Well,” you say, “if it’s written by someone else, it won’t be the same!” Well, no, it wouldn’t be, but that doesn’t prohibit it from being good. What made Watchmen compelling was the reality of their almost hopeless world. It was so hopeless that the world’s first living god just up and left. And the only guy who made it the whole way though, who was right all along, was criminally disturbed.
In Before Watchmen, thematically, what would really change? A comic book drenched in negative political discourse, government conspiracies, and privacy invasion certainly has plenty to relate to in today’s world. As long as the talented writers (and there are plenty attached to the project) make the world visceral and relevant, there’s a lot to be excited about. The characters themselves are almost of a lesser importance than the world in which they inhabit.
In that way, I’m excited to see what’s in store for us. And if it’s bad, then we’ll keep going like it never happened.