- 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
You know, I've been thinking about this overnight, which yes, is what I do, trying to see this from all angles, and here's what I've come up with:
- A few months ago, I said on the Cube that I'm over the thought of Watchmen 2. I can't stand JMS and he's absolutely wrong about the creator's rights issue just as he was wrong about Spider-Man sales (and of course, nothing is ever his fault), but he's right on one score: I don't think (personally) that the original work is going to get affected; I don't think THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN hampers THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS in any way. The past 10 years of Captain Marvel stories don't ruin the Golden Age Captain Marvel stories. Dead Man's Walk is a horrible, horrible read, but it doesn't change the fact that Lonesome Dove was a great, great read. Just because David Boreanaz sucked as The Crow didn't mean that Brandon Lee's performance was diminished. That's just not how sequels work. I'm sure there were "fan fiction" (and that's what this feels like) sequels to Shakespeare's stuff that just never stood the test of time — and why, frankly, should it? So there, I don't think that anything they're going to do is going to hurt the original book. It will stay intact, forever and ever.
- This is an incredibly dickhead move by DC, morally speaking. As with Grant Morrison doing Action Comics as a Siegel/Shuster riff, that's the main reason I won't be supporting it. That and JMS is on it. With Andy Kubert. SERIOUSLY? I honestly can't get over that pairing. JMS AND ANDY KUBERT?? I can't think of a pair of superstar creators that would turn me off to any project more than these two. Maybe JMS and Rob Liefeld. But the Liefeld thing was a gimme. Anyway, it's DC. We knew this was coming ever since they actually did the Watchmen movie and Moore's name wasn't on it. We shouldn't be so surprised now.
- On the other hand, few things are bound to get lapsed readers (Note: I said lapsed, not new) into stores. And who knows — maybe the people who aren't comics readers but bought WATCHMEN after the movie came out (one of very few movies that actually spiked the sales of a particular book... V FOR VENDETTA is the other one, making me wonder, when is B FOR BLOOD FEUD happening?) liked the book enough and don't hold it in such high regard as we do (and frankly, how could they? At least 50% of Watchmen's impact is based on the form and technique of comics. How can they appreciate that as much as the narrative elements if they aren't comics readers?) will go to comics stores to buy it, and once there, perhaps the retailers can go point them to other titles, ones that need supporting. In the larger scheme of things, can we really say this is a bad thing?
- To add to that, this will give the creators involved quite a bit of coin in their bank, enabling them to pursue more esoteric projects. Darwyn can do more of the Parker GNs. Adam Hughes can keep going on doing covers and commissions. Len Wein is writing again. JMS and Andy Kubert can... uh.... damn. I dunno. Ruin the whole thing on an artistic level? No, wait, a molecular level. That's more accurate. Anyway, point is, it's a cushy job and I can't blame them for taking it.
- It should be noted that there HAS been a prequel to Watchmen, only in the form of an RPG. Moore was bouncing around ideas for a Minutemen prequel as late as 1987. It was only later that he changed his mind. Things like this make me dislike the rationale of "It's a complete story." Even Moore thought it could use additions. Am I frustrated at DC for things like how they handle deals with creators? Yes. For the fact that they seem to be totally and completely out of ideas? Of course. But as far as the "There's nothing to add to the story," thing, I find it hard to buy into. But again, I'm one of those "I ignore stuff I don't like and come up with my own canon/continuity" people...
- For the record, and I think this deserves its own bullet, I don't see why these top-flight creators are working on BEFORE WATCHMEN. They could be doing something more creative than trying to write prequel fan fiction, which is exactly how this feels. But like I said, it's a cushy job and I don't blame them for taking it.
- But on the complete flipside, I was under the impression that Gibbons would be involved. If they didn't want this project to polarize so much, he should have been involved, even on a consultant level. And you know what? They should damn well pay him anyway. When Moore was being given five-star hotels in New York City and a gigantic contract offer, Dave Gibbons was being shuttled around in dirt motels where he got robbed. When it comes to Watchmen, as much as DC has mistreated Moore, they've vastly mistreated Dave, who still comes to them and is loyal to them every single goddamned year. I don't care if he turned the project down, if his statement was the most diplomatic way of saying "Good luck with that shit." They should give him money for it. He fucking deserves it - and has deserved it since 1986. While Alan was writing Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and Miracleman, and making a career out of it, Dave was drawing Watchmen and Watchmen only - and helping Alan MAKE that career. Dave's entire career has been unfair. He should have gotten more recognition, more money, more credit. He should still get it all today. So DC, do something right and make sure Dave gets money for this — I don't care if he didn't sign a contract. And make sure you put in big bold letters in every single issue: Watchmen was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Check out my buddy Paul Cornish's take on it. He's a bit more optimistic than I am.