Before Watchmen

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
As I was reading the NYTimes Wednesday morning, I came across an article that immediately caught my interest. DC Comics had just announced they would be publishing a forthcoming seven-issue miniseries that would act as a prequel to the events of Watchmen.

For those who may not be familiar with the book, Watchmen, published in 1986, is arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time.  Time Magazine even went so far as to inclue the work on it's Top 100 english language graphic novels lists.  The book was also adapted into a major motion film in 2009 under director Zack Snyder following his success releasing 300.  While the film adaptation was largely met with critical acclaim and positive reviews, commercially it was a flop.

That brief history aside, it is understandable why fans of the original book are in an uproar over DC's decision to release a miniseries and alter the near sacred canon that is the Watchmen universe.  Taken in light of DC's actions lately, this isn't really that surprising.  DC has been commercializing and capitalizing upon any property they can get their hands on. They bastardized all that was Green Lantern this summer while also revitalized their entire comic lineup with the introduction of the New 52, the later of which has actually sparked a large uptick in their weekly sales across the board. They even went so far as to change their logo to more closely align themselves with the new brand image they have been pushing. Geesh.

If DC Comics can be thought of as the manifestation of commercialization, then the creator of Watchmen, Alan Moore, can be thought of as its antithesis.

Alan Moore is the writer behind such popular works as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and a large portion of early Swamp-thing.  He is quite literally a genius, and equally insane.  It's no secret that he holds a great deal of contempt toward DC and mainstream comics in general. He has renounced every film adaptation of every novel he has ever authored (despite never having watched these movies), and is know for his inflammatory sound-bytes. In a recent with the NYTimes, he was quoted as saying:
"I tend to take this latest development [of Watchmen] as a kind of eager confirmation that they [DC Comics] are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago."
This coming from a man who as the basis for his books, has adapted and transformed traditional literary figures such as Dr. Jeckyll, Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Hawley Griffin, Dorothy Gale, and Wendy Darling.  While I can understand his apprehension and resentment toward new adaptations of his works, it seems entirely hypocritical to criticize these efforts in the media. Moore, more than any other modern graphic novel author, has benefited and profited from the use of classic literary figures freely available in the public domain.

At the end of the day, will I end up buying Before Watchmen? Absolutely.  I was a tremendous fan of the original series and DC has been on a winning streak lately with their recent string of reboots.  While the new adaptations may not be as revolutionary or impact-full as their predecessor, at the very least it will be interesting to see how modern day authors put a spin on a series that has largely remained untouched for the better part of the past twenty-five years.

Labels: , , ,

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.