The day that many comic book fans have dreaded has come. For years DC Comics has hinted at the idea of running more comics using the characters from Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s 1986 masterpiece ‘Watchmen’. Well today, fans… that day is upon us.
Today, DC Comics announced that they will publish seven different mini-series featuring characters from ‘Watchmen’. The seven series, dubbed ‘Before Watchmen’ will each follow a different ‘Watchmen’ character including: Rorschach, The Minutemen, The Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, Ozymandius, and Silk Spectre. The tales will tell the stories of what the characters were doing before the events of the original story. They begin releasing this coming summer.
The weekly books will also include a two-page backup in each issue featuring a story called ‘Curse of the Crimson Corsair’ that will touch on the comic-within-a-comic that was used in the original series. After all of the series have ended, there will be a final epilogue issue to wrap up the stories, which will feature another tale of the Crimson Corsair.
Tackling the characters of ‘Watchmen’ is something that many creators have been loath to do for some time. Partially because of the threat of fan backlash but also because the original story so masterfully handled one of the most complex tales ever put to the four color page.
But the creators who are brave enough to take on this monumental task are well aware of the risks. When asked about his trepidation on taking on this universe, writer J. Michael Straczynski, who is writing the ‘Nite Owl’ and ‘Dr. Manhattan’ titles, compares ‘Watchmen’ to the Holy Bible:
“Anyone who sets foot into the Watchmen universe and isn’t just a little nervous should be given a few days of electroshock therapy. I’ve always considered Watchmen to be one of the best graphic novels ever written, and when it came out back in 1986 I was as blown away as everyone else. Just masterful.
The thing is, though, writers are always being asked to play in amazing universes created by other people, and you can’t let that scare you. If Darren Aronofsky can plan for a Noah’s Ark movie, Steven Spielberg can consider tackling the story of Moses, and Mel Gibson can do another Bible movie, I think it’s safe to say that the Watchmen universe is fair game, provided that you approach the work with clean hands and good intent.”
Pretty darn cocky if you ask me. But Straczynski isn’t the only one involved in this epic undertaking. Here’s the full list of titles along with the covers for the first issues below. (Click the covers to enlarge.)
‘Rorschach’ (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello, Artist: Lee Bremen
‘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
‘Ozymandius’ (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein, Artist: Jae Lee
‘Silk Spectre’ (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke, Artist: Amanda Conner
‘Before Watchmen: Epilogue’ (1 issue) – Writer: Len Wein, Artist: John Higgins
And while, I can honestly say that my first reaction to this announcement was to cringe as my heart sank. Had DC really stooped so low as to cash in the genius of ‘Watchmen’ for a quick buck? After reading everything that was said, I’m still not certain that this isn’t the case but, based on the level of the creators involved, I’m willing to give ‘Before Watchmen’ a chance.
What do you think? Is ‘Before Watchmen’ a blasphemy? Or are you willing to give these new creators a shot before bashing the idea? Comment below and let us know!