Who Watches the Prequels?

On wednesday DC comics did a big thing. They announced officially, that they would be releasing companion mini-series set in the Watchmen universe.

“This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.

“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”

Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).”

If you want to know more opinions, check out DC’s post here

Alan Moore was obviously very upset at the matter, saying “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, as far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to Moby-Dick.”

It’s been fairly well known for a number of years that Alan Moore doesn’t want anyone messing with his story, his creations. He’s removed his name from film adaptations (with good reason, for those who’ve seen From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and he’s publically slated the idea of using his characters and ideas.

But my argument is, Alan Moore is the biggest pilferer of them all. He takes characters from other people and changes them, and turns them into weird reflections of what they used to be. That’s one of his principles as a writer. He’s very, very good at it. But let’s take a look at some of the better known Moore series:

League of Extraordinary Gentleman contains The Invisible Man, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Ishmael (no sequel to Moby Dick huh?) all fighting Moriarty, and Fu Manchu. The sequels also allude to James Bond, Voldemort, War of the Worlds, John Carter of Mars, Eastenders, and Rupert the Bear.

V For Vendetta takes bits liberally from 1984 and iconography from Guy Fawkes.

Batman: The Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Swamp Thing, Supreme, and Wildcats are all part of ongoing series, that Moore used recurring characters in telling. Granted, these are mostly fantastic stories, but he appears to be under the impression that as soon as he gets his hands on a character, no-one else can ever touch it. He’s that damn important. He claims this is justification for him thinking that DC have had no new ideas in the last 25 years. This is coming from a man who has spent the better part of last year writing a sex fantasy noir featuring H.P. Lovecraft stories, a man who made his career writing characters were at the time nearly 50 years old.

I’ll be there on release day, eager for Azzarello and Cooke’s stories. Not because they’re Watchmen prequels. I can see past the hype. But because I admire the creators and I know that if they’re involved, then there’s some pretty good stories still left to tell.

What do you think?

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