It feels like the more I get deeper into doing “The Great Bone Journey”, something else comes up. Most recently, I was stricken with a pretty bad case of food poisoning. Seeing as how I didn’t want to waste another week and not discuss anything comic book related, I felt it important to at least write about something important but not nearly as dense as writing about 9 volumes about Bone.
So, we’re straying a bit out of my classroom library of comics that I keep for the kids and we’ll discuss something that was just announced in the Comic Book world last week: DC Comics is launching in a few months Before Watchmen, a story that’s taken 25 years to come to fruition that takes place before the monumental work created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This will be a maxi-series of weekly comics, each ranging between 4-6 issues long, that will tell the stories that took place long before the original Watchmen comic.
Why is this a big deal?
Imagine someone doing a movie called “Before Citizen Kane”.
I suppose that’s the best analogy that I can think of.
It was only a couple of years ago that a ton of Hollywood movie hype was being dedicated to the film release of the movie. I remember speaking to a few of my friends and my classmates at the University who all seemed very interested in the movie. I can imagine, because Zack Snyder’s vision for the movie was so appealing and attractive. Sleek. Sexy. Visually Inspiring.
However, what I heard back from friends about the movie all seemed to fall under the same category: I didn’t get it/I didn’t like it. Honestly, one leads right into the other.
I guess what many of them were expecting was another movie along the lines of “X-Men” or “Fantastic Four”, but perhaps with a tad bit of darkness behind it. I heard tales of people taking their kids to go and see it expecting the same thing, however, what they were treated to was not what at all they expected. These were not superheroes in the traditional sense.
These were costumed vigilantes with problems that real people actually experienced.
What makes “Watchmen” the true crown of comic storytelling, besides it’s amazingly dense and dramatic storytelling and realistic artwork, is that this was one of the first to truly deconstruct and break down a superhero and show them to be as imperfect as humans were. The characters had mental instability, fears and doubts, as well as an immense amount of hubris.
For the longest time, it was considered untouchable.
Until now. And not everyone finds that a good thing.
I could spend the remainder of the article discussing the convoluted and bitter history between Alan Moore and DC Comics. How there are accusations of false promises and misuse of properties or intent of completing works but never doing so, etc. etc. It’s boring, angry and not at all something that I wish to discuss.
What I do want to talk about is the major amount of talent that DC Comics has assembled and why this matters.
All in all, there is going to be seven series focusing on a significant character from the seminal comic story. They are as follows:
- Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
- Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
- Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
- Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
- Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
- Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
- Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
Speaking about each one of these writers or artists, again, would be a massive feat unto itself. Seeing as how each one of these artists is responsible for individual accomplishments that would make the average writer feel a tad intimidated, I can say that alone gives me hope for these comics. I mean, author J. Michael Stracynski alone can be considered responsible for the “Thor” movie that came out this summer. His relaunch of the Thor comic book series lent itself to the character’s popularity so a movie could be made.
Now, the world knows about Thor.
So, what can we expect from each of the series? Nothing can be said at this point except tons of internet speculation that has no real legs to stand on. I mean, that’s all I’ve been doing. All I have to stand on is the credibility of the writers and artists attached to the individual series. Some of these artists haven’t drawn a regular series in a long time, so it’s a rare delight that we can see their talents being used here.
However, why do these comics matter?
You can ask “Does anyone care about these characters? Should they be touched or written without original series writer Alan Moore’s consent?”
I can’t speak on any of these. They matter in that this is a sequel/prequel to the greatest comic book story of all time.
Fortunately, though, I can back this up by saying that I’ve discussed Watchmen.
And I always told myself I would never talk about Watchmen.
Published in 1985, and created under the leftover fears of Cold War paranoia, Watchmen was created by British creators Alan Moore and his artistic companion, Dave Gibbons, and is considered by almost everyone and their next door neighbor’s nerdy best friend to be the epitome of all comic book-dom.
Yet here we are, still talking about it today.
I guess only a few complete stories can hold a testament to being discussed for longer than 25 years. I bet this is one that will for much longer.
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org