The comics world erupted in controversy February 1st when DC Comics announced to it was producing seven new limited series and a one-shot epilogue titled Before Watchmen; prequels of Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbon's masterpiece Watchmen. Is it crass opportunism or a great strategic move? Protagonists from both sides have been arguing over Twitter, YouTube and the blogosphere in the past weeks and here's my modest contribution to this pan-industry debate.
|A cover to DC's upcoming Rorschach Before Watchmen mini|
|A cover of DC's upcoming Comedian Before Watchmen mini|
Frankly, I'm looking forward to them. When the original Watchmen was published in 1986, I had only started reading comics and because of this didn't read the originals when first released. By the early 90s, I had managed to complete them but being used to shorter X-Men and Batman books, didn't take in as much as when I read them again in my 20s. Since, I've enjoyed Watchmen three more times and come to appreciate the story as both a masterpiece of the genre and great introductionary story for my non-comic reading friends.
|Nite Owl in DC's Watchmen #1, September 1986 republished in 2008|
This history is probably one of the reasons why I'm okay with these prequels. Being relatively new to the story, I'm not as emotionally attached to its original twelve issue presentation as others seem to be. Moreover, I'm also a realist. I know the industry is in a scrap and if this brings in new readers or gives comics publicity in the battle against other forms of entertainment, then I'm all for it. Yes, I know that has me siding with the corporate big-wigs in New York and LA, but there's a simple reality out there -- a profitable comics industry means better stories for us readers and more jobs for comic creators.
Which brings me to much used Star Wars argument -- likely something I don't need to explain. And while I'm willing to concede the Star Wars prequel trilogy was a disaster, these new films didn't ruin my love of the original trilogy and Empire Strikes Back remains my favourite film to this day. Because of this, I'm taking a similar view regarding Before Watchmen. If they bomb, the greatness of original series will not be diminished one iota. That said, DC knows it can't drop the ball on this one and that's why they've assembled a great team to do it. Look at the list and you'll see what I mean.
|A cover of DC's upcoming Silk Spectre Before Watchmen mini|
|Ozymandias in DC's Watchmen #10, July 1987 republished in 2008|
So if you're already against Before Watchmen, then send DC a message and don’t buy them. Me, I'll be reading, reviewing and (hopefully) enjoying seeing how Ozymandias and Dr. Manhattan became the great characters I know them as. I know not every Before Watchmen comic will be perfect -- but I'm willing to give them a chance and hope they're a successful enterprise for DC. As stated above: the stronger the industry the better the stories for all of us.