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Who ReWatches the Watchmen?

1st February 2012

As DC launch set of prequels to Watchmen, is this their greatest strategy or biggest mistake?

Like making a matching twelve-piece set to complement the Holy Grail or perhaps a Third Testament to the Bible, there are some ideas that only sound good to the money men. “This was a huge success, can we make another that’s even huger?’ goes the remit.  So there are plenty of raised eyebrows today with confirmation of the news that DC are creating a set of prequels to what many consider to be the greatest comic of all time.

For non-comic fans, this might not seem a big deal. But one does need to remember that the Watchmen comic, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons no only changed the course of comics publishing on its release in the 1980s, but also found itself impacting a variety of other media – including books and music.  Such was the intricacy of the story and the art that over twenty five years later it still remains a benchmark.

Today DC Comics announced that it was returning to the universe inhabited by the characters of the Watchmen mythology with the first new stories about the characters since original publication. It will launch SEVEN new prequel series that have the umbrella title of ‘Before Watchmen’ . Neither Gibbons or Moore will be involved in the strategy – though some other names, J Michael Strczynski (creator of Babylon 5), Darwyn Cooke, Len Wein (creator of Wolverine) and Brian Azzarello will be.

DC has said it hopes that the new series will be met with  warm reception, but pragmatically their best hope is that such an idea will be met with a ‘wait and see’ approach – though there’s already a vocal contingent wary of the whole idea. Though Moore admittedly took the concepts of varying existing characters to reshape them for the original Watchmen story, he has since sworn off mainstream comics and demanded his name be removed from any on-screen adaptations (such as the Watchmen  and V for Vendetta films), but Gibbons has given a carefully worded response saying that he an Alan told all the stories they wanted to tell with the characters but that he appreciates DC’s reasons for their plan.

The comics, including ‘Minutemen’, ‘Rorschach’, ‘Dr.Manhattan’, ‘Nite Owl’, ‘Silk Spectre’  and ‘Ozymandias’ and will be released under a weekly schedule, though on-sale dates have yet to be announced.

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