Friday, February 3, 2012
DC have confirmed that a series of prequels to Watchmen are set to be published and will focus on telling the story of each character. It's proven to be quite the hot topic in the comic book world with much debate focused on whether revisiting this classic is a good idea or not.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the original creators of Watchmen are not to be involved in any of the project. Al tough given how Moore feels about DC that was never going to happen. He effectively turned his back on the company over his mistreatment at their hands when the Watchmen was first brought out in 1986.
A new batch of creators have been brought in to work on it and its a mighty impressive roll call of some of the best in the business today. The likes of Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke and J. Michael Straczynski involved it's unlikely any of the books will actually be bad. (If you like comics you owe it to yourself to read Darwyn Cooke). I'm not going to start hating all these people for it as they have done things I've loved. They've also done things I didn't like or just plain didn't read due to lack of interest. You have to let the creators do what they think best and then pick and choose from that. Even if it is a little bit disappointing that they are doing this.
So what are people complaining about?
Well for me it doesn't really matter who they get to work on it or how good the books are, I'm not interested in it at all. I don't hate it or think it shouldn't be allowed, I'm just not interested in it. For the same reasons I wouldn't buy a Before War and Peace book or Before Highway 61 Revisited record. There really is no need for them and it's diluting a thing of genius in order to make money. I really can't see what they will add to the original.
Watchmen stands as a high water mark for comic books. If ever comics are to be thought of as art then this is one of its master pieces and Alan Moors is it's Da Vinci. It would have been nice if DC had treated the book with the respect it deserves. By all means bring out fancy editions of it and I guess if you want to make a bad movie version then fine, but could you not just leave it alone and let it sit as the crown jewels in your library of work?
Moore himself had this to say "I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago,"
Which frankly is a good point. DC has just refreshed the industry with the whole New 52 thing do they really want to go back to Watchmen? Or are they just hoping for a second movie? Having gathered all this talent why not get them to create new things?
Apparently DC have long been asking Moore and Gibbons to do more Watchmen stuff but they always refused. The fact that they said no should have been an end to it. They both felt they had said all they wanted to. Watchmen is a one off piece of work, not an ongoing series, it's already complete so why try to shoe horn in a load more stories? We already have the back stories of all the characters so why elaborate on them?
DC have said they always need to revamp their characters and keep them up to date. Sure, that makes sense for your ongoing books that never stop but not for a stand alone work. Also if that is they case then why do some characters get dropped never to be seen again?
Some would argue that Alan Moore has himself taken other peoples characters for his own work. True enough but he's was creating something new in the process and not simply extending the stories the borrowed characters originally come from.
One wonders where DC, or comics in general, would actually be with out Alan Moore. He ushered in the modern age and the era of the graphic novel. If DC can have success with the Batman movies then Moore helped make it so. He gave the industry a credibility and artist flourish that has made it possible for comics to be seen as something an art form. Perhaps DC should show him a little bit of respect, you know, given that they kind of owe him.
Sure these days Alan Moore can often come across as a grumpy old man and out of touch with the way things are in comics these day. But if he says he doesn't want this to happen can't DC just say OK and leave it at that? Just because they can make these books doesn't mean they should. Just because you screwed the guy out the rights to the book doesn't mean you should try to wring ever last dollar out of it.
The word prequel will always conjure up horrible images of the Phantom Menace. Star Wars is actually quite a good analogy here. George Lucas made something wonderful and then spent the rest of his life trying to make as much money as he could of the back it. Does Phantom Menace make Star Wars a worse film? No, but it does rather cast a horrid Jar Jar shaped shadow over it. And the name Star Wars doesn't have the same prestige it once did.
Of course every comic book geek thinks they know best about how to run the industry. And we as a group can get very defensive over things. I don't really expect DC to pay any attention to what I think is best. I'll just ignore the books and stick to annoying friends by lecturing them about how great the original is and why Alan Moore is a genius.