Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rant Reflection: The new WATCHMEN comics

After years of rumors and leaks, DC announced this morning that they are producing new Watchmen comics beginning this summer. Naturally, this has set off a world-class shitstorm across the internet. Alan Moore himself told the New York Times "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," and called DC's plan "completely shameless."

“I don’t want money,” Moore told them. “What I want is for this not to happen.”

My thoughts: tough shit. Alan Moore has long acted like a total dickhead when it comes to his work, at the expense of the fans that have supported him for decades. I won't recount endless examples here; it's easy enough to find countless examples with a quick Google search. At some point, it's time to let go of old grudges and move on, particularly when hanging on to all that bad blood costs his fans things they want(i.e. the 15th anniversary action figure line that wound up not happening once Moore threw another of his crazy-hermit fits).

Moore also comments in the NY Times piece that "there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to MobyDick. ” You know what? If Moby Dick had been a comic, there would have been. Comics are serialized storytelling. When you create a comic character or concept-- particularly when you create them work-for-hire and base them on characters already owned by the company for which you are working-- it's a given that others are free to pick up and play with those toys once you put them down. DC has been overwhelmingly generous to Moore by abiding by his wishes for the past 25 years, when they were under absolutely no obligation to do so. Just as Moore has used characters and concepts created by others for his own stories, now some of his are being put to further use. That's how it works, and Alan Moore needs to grow the hell up and stop acting like a 4-year-old who isn't getting his way.

That aside, many people have the far more legitimate concern that the new Watchmen comics won't live up to the original series. This is a concern I share; while I don't think Watchmen should be held as an inviolate sacred cow, the fact remains that the original series is basically perfect as it is. Fortunately, there are two things working in favor of the new comics:

1. The new comics are set before the events of Watchmen. This is crucial, as the original series needs no sequel. The decades before the events of the series, that we see very little of, however, are wide open for exploration. For years, I've hoped they would take this approach if they actually did produce more Watchmen comics, and thankfully, that's exactly what we're getting.

2. The creative teams, on the whole, are out-friggin'-standing. Look at this lineup:

RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
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
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
Now, I'm not Straczynski's biggest fan. and I find Adam Kubert's art just plain ugly, but on the whole, that is an amazing lineup. While nothing is going to live up to the legend that the original Watchmen series has become at this point, I think we're going to be getting some damn nice comics out of this all the same.

So, like pretty much everything the internet gets fired up about, it's not the end of the world. If Alan Moore can take characters from classic stories and make them fuck each other-- check out Lost Girls if you think I'm just making shit up-- then I see nothing wrong with the company that owns the characters he created, using characters they already owned as the basis, and weaving some new stories with them.

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