It's bigger news than the death of Superman and Batman's spine being broken combined. In fact, it's the biggest comic book news of the last 25 years. Say hello to Alan Moore's worst nightmare, ladies and gentlemen—Before Watchmen.
In 1986, Alan Moore crafted his opus, Watchmen, in which he boldly brought superheroes into a real-world context. What he created was nothing short of one of the most important works of fiction analyzing the nature of man in the last 25 years. In short—it was and is arguably the greatest and smartest comic book ever made.
And now, against Moore's better judgment, there's going to be a sequel. Well, let's strike that from the record. There's going to be a prequel. Many people at DC have wanted this for a very long time, and perhaps none more than co-publishers, Dan Didio and Jim Lee. Their reason for the prequel is simple:
"It's our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant. 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."
Now, before we get into the ever-popular "Should a prequel even happen" debate, let's talk turkey. Namely, what will the prequel consist of and who will be making them. Thankfully, DC hooked us up with the details. Here's your breakdown.
Before Watchmen includes:
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
Each week, a new issue will be released and will feature a two-page backup story called CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR, written by original series editor Len Wein with art by original series colorist John Higgins. There will also be a single issue, BEFORE WATCHMEN: EPILOGUE, featuring the work of various writers and artists, and a CRIMSON CORSAIR story by Wein and Higgins.
That's a veritable who's who of DC's finest. Especially surprising is the inclusion of former Watchmen editor Len Wein. It's a real boon to the prequel that anyone from the original be involved. As for Watchmen's co-creator and artist, Dave Gibbons, he at least gave the prequel his blessing. Well, sort of, anyway:
"The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire."
Bit of a mixed bag there, honestly. That's sort of like saying, "I can't stop you from doing this thing you totally shouldn't do. Oh, well. I hope you don't #@*! it up."
You'd be hard pressed, though, to find anyone who couldn't see the potential here. After all, the world has changed quite a bit since 1986. At the very least, if Azzarello can nail Rorschach's voice, it'll be worth the price of admission.
That's what we think, anyway. How about you?