DC Comics’ big news last week was that they’ll be going forward with plans for a Watchmen prequel. It has a lot of people up in arms about whether or not the company should write new stories for the 26-year-old comic book. I think I offer three different view points that will leave everyone a little upset with me. I can live that. Some people are saying DC should leave the masterpiece alone, and that they have no right to do add to it. In reality, DC Comics has every right to do whatever they want to the properties they own. Kill Superman? No problem. Restart every comic book in the shared universe at issue #1? Why not. I have seen many responses to this situation, mostly from other bloggers and fans, even a few from people in the comic book industry: they don’t seem too pleased at all with this.
From a fan’s point of view I can see why you don’t want anymore Watchmen comic books. Wait, no I can’t. When a sequel to a movie comes out we go and see it, even though we know that historically sequels are never as good as the original. Is it impossible to believe that these, already deep characters, cannot be given further depth? I am a huge Alan Moore fan, I am such a fanboy as to believe every time he touches his crazy, anarchist pen (or whatever he uses, sharpened, burnt wood?) to paper, eventually someone will make a movie out of it. But (and I DO NOT begin sentences with conjunctions often) I love other Batman stories after The Killing Joke. In fact, the last six years of Grant Morrison’s run, and now Scott Snyder’s have been incredible. Maybe in the 90′s when comic books were still in that weird adolescent-like phase of gore, ultra-violence and over the top musculature, I would have said, I don’t think the atmosphere is right for some more smart, but entertaining Watchmen comics. We’re past that time now. Comics now can have a thoughtful plot and still appeal to their core audience; even the mainstreamers like Superman, Batman and Spiderman. I believe we should give the current writers a chance, before completely ostracizing them.
From the original artist’s point of view, there is hesitance, even anger at watching someone else take over a story that was all yours. No one is changing the original Watchmen story. They are just giving fans an oppurtunity to enjoy some characters that they loved in new scenarios, new adventures, and new development. The Comedian was a bitter, punk before he got to Vietnam, why? Where did the Nite Owl get all his wonderful toys? What in the world made the United States vote for Nixon over and over and over? I do understand that Moore created these characters, but he did not own the copyright. Even then, he had to know that comic book death was reversible at the whim of the sales figures. So yes, his fury is comprehensible, even though he seems furious at most things these days.
Finally, let’s look at why this really makes sense. The comic book industry, is an industry. It is here to make money, and that money is used (in part) to make more comic books. DC Comics, in wanting to continue the repetitive cycle of making both money and comics, has decided that a good way to do this is by “cashing in” on a property of theirs that hasn’t been explored outside of twelve comic books, and a feature film. All of which have been hugely popular. From the business side, it would probably be a poor decision not to do it.
All of this is easy enough to speculate on, because we haven’t seen or read the books yet. A year from now, I may be changing my name and mailing address, as my fellow fanboys and bloggers (and children) disown me and pelt me with rotten vegetables (like the person who decided to put nipples on George Clooney’s Batsuit). At the same time, to the people who are so outraged: Are you not going to give any of these books a chance? Can you sit by week-after-week and not pick one of them up from your local comic book shop, and possibly miss out on all new stories of these classic characters? I’ll judge the book by its content.