A few weeks ago, Chris Garcia from The Drink Tank asked me for some brief thoughts on DC’s Before Watchmen. With the enormous new Alan Moore interview on the subject appearing yesterday, I thought I’d share my in-no-way-comprehensive reaction.
Over the years, Watchmen has become something I admire more than love. When I first read it, however, it absolutely amazed me. If I try, I can still remember the sick, breathless sensation I felt reading its grim climax.
Anyway, Watchmen survived Snyder’s film and it’ll survive these Before Watchmen prequels too. It is a little sad that someone will have to wade through all the prequels on the shelf to purchase the original. If DC was serious about this, they’d do a single 12-issue story – something to sit proudly next to the Moore and Gibbon’s collected Watchmen – instead of these scattershot miniseries.
Corporate comics will always focus on characters rather than stories because it lets them produce more material and make more money. (The idea that Rorschach has been sitting, unused, for decades must’ve been making DC executives wake up in cold sweats.) As Josh Flanagan wrote for iFanboy, DC have the legal right to make more Watchmen against the wishes of Alan Moore, and “morality and what’s right doesn’t come into it.” But why shouldn’t morality come into it? Isn’t the whole point of morals that they come into everything?
The most depressing thing about Before Watchmen for me isn’t the cult of nostalgia or corporate greed or wondering why Darwyn Cooke said yes. It’s seeing how – yet again – so many comic book fans automatically take the side of the company over the creator. Do they think Marvel and DC are the ones protecting these characters? And unhappy creators could cost them the new stories they desperately want? I don’t know – but if superheroes teach us anything, I’m pretty sure it’s not “morality doesn’t come into it”.