During 1986 and 1987, Alan Moore the writer, Dave Gibbons the illustrator, and the colorist John Higgins, constructed the twelve issue series Watchmen. Twenty-five years later the DC heads have gathered the top writers and artists to tell a Watchmen prequel. No matter what your personal opinion is about Watchmen, it is viewed by many fans and critics as the source of a certain wave of modern comic books.
Nine individual series are being produced to tell untold tales of Watchmen: The Minutemen, Silk Spectre, The Comedian, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and Dr. Manhattan, along with an epilogue, and a just-announced two issue Moloch series. As of now, most of the titles are on the third issue and are now getting into the core of the characters.
Showing us what the main characters were doing before the big event is like watching the Titanic, you know the ship is going down. Or in this case you know the alien is being teleported to New York city. No new ground can be covered no matter how many issues are produced. There is no room for character growth so it’s just fan fiction. All aspects of each character are already displayed in the original twelve issues of Watchmen.
The creative teams on each series are the masters at work, but instead of making art, they’re doing paint by numbers. The forced story and theme parallels that are played over and over again are like reading homework. The Minutemen blowing up a fireworks factory and saying it was connected to the axis is a far cry from blowing up half of New York city with a fake alien.
There are highs in certain issues. I gain interest when reading The Minutemen and The Silhouette is on the page. She’s the only one in the series who is actually doing hero work, like saving people. J. Michael Straczynski’s take on Dr. Manhattan’s perception of time shows his sci-fi roots and that is always a plus. The Comedian is constantly highlighting the setting the series takes place in. Marilyn Monroe, Blake sitting ringside at a Muhammad Ali fight, and The Kennedys – all that reminds you of the familiar, altered timeline that Watchmen plays in.
The lows are the Silk Spectre book – the narrative of the sixteen year old girl cannot fit into the series, even with all of the sentimental scenes in the third issue. Nite Owl is forced and doesn’t seem reminiscent of the original character. It doesn’t fit to the man Dan is in Watchmen. Rorschach has no mystery. Unlike the original series, they don’t attempt to hide him. If this really was being faithful to the source material, they never would have explicitly linked Kovacs to Rorschach. I’m on the fence about the Ozymandias series. I’m not the biggest fan of Jae Lee, but it’s his art that keeps me going.
There are better things DC could be doing with these talented people. I’m sure these creators have their own ideas that, with DC’s resources, could be the NEXT Watchmen. Not every comic book that gets made will change the standard, but it should have originality to it and the creative team’s own stamp on it. It’s different in terms storytelling when talking about DC’s headline superheroes – they can change to fit the future. While Watchmen is made timeless by a yesteryear style of comic books.
In all, I say leave each series alone and read something new, there are tons of creative new and old stories to read. My next post will be about my feelings toward Avengers Vs. X-Men. There may be some hope in it yet. You see what I did there? Tune in same internet time, same internet place at TwoHeadedNerd.com.
Christopher McLucas lives on the planet Earth with a countless amount of noisy roommates. His first anthology, Feint Peace is being published this October.