Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I Won't Be Buying (Or Reading) Before Watchmen

I've been thinking about this ever since word began leaking out last year that DC Comics might be doing some sort of Watchmen-related sequel/prequel series. Then, early this year, it was confirmed: there would be a group of miniseries collectively called Before Watchmen, with some big name talent attached to them, including J Michael Straczynski and Darwyn Cooke (two creators I normally go out of my way to read).

But as time has gone by, and the launch of Before Watchmen has loomed closer and closer, I've realized that I have no intention of buying or even reading these series. Part of the reason is that Alan Moore, the genius behind Watchmen, specifically asked that this not happen. Because of the contract he and artist Dave Gibbons signed back when Watchmen existed only in their two noggins, Moore can't actually stop Before Watchmen from happening. Still, considering the millions that DC has made off that property and its countless reprints over the past 25+ years, you'd think his wishes would be honoured. But of course you'd be wrong.

The other reason I'm taking a stance here is that I think Watchmen is complete as it is. Moore and Gibbons put everything into it, and the 12 issues (typically read in one collected form nowadays) constitute the entire length and breadth of it. There's no need to go back and fill in backstories for the characters, unless you're simply looking to cash in on them with no eye toward artistic expression or purity. Which is exactly what Before Watchmen is, and it's a very sad statement on the world of comics today that it's happening at all.

Anyway, I'll be sitting out this particular comic book 'event.' I'm sure most, if not all of the series will still be best-sellers this summer, but those sales figure won't include any of my money. It just doesn't seem appropriate to me to reward such crass treatment of the 'Citizen Kane' of comic series like this.

For more on Before Watchmen and the controversy surrounding it, you can also see this article.

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