With the controversial Before Watchmen prequel series just a few months from release, DC execs are making the rounds, trying to explain to jaded comic fans why the project is a good idea. Their take on original Watchmen creator Alan Moore's complaints? Well, he should have read his contract a little closer.
In a sit-down with Collider, DC Entertainment co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee were asked to respond to Moore's outspoken opposition to the prequels. Lee pulled no punches in his response, noting that the rights issues that have upset Moore so much were in the fine print from the very beginning:
"In this piece of journalism, it only cites interviews Alan has given. People will listen if it's polarizing and one sided enough. This is not a situation where we have taken things from Alan. He signed an agreement and yet he said 'I didn't read the contract.' I can't force him to read his contract. So there's all these things that people don't know and Alan has said that explicitly—there are all these things that mitigate or go into the analysis. It's not as clear-cut as people want to make it seem... It's not a situation where we're using the characters and Alan's not being compensated. For everything that's been done for Watchmen from the books to the movie, money has gone his way. The right amount that he deserves based on the contract. So we have honored that part of the agreement. It is something that can definitely be debated but to say that there is clearly one side that is right, I will dispute that."
As for the pushback from original Watchmen fans about the plan to dig into the characters' pasts, DiDio said the Watchmen have been on the sidelines for far too long.
"One of the things I've tried to say to a number of folks is that in a baseball game you don't leave your best players on the bench," he said. "You have to go out with your best foot forward. The things that are most recognizable, that people want to see—so I felt that it was in the company's best interest to go ahead with Watchmen."
Lee said he hopes the prequels will appeal to both longtime comics fans as well as those who jumped on the bandwagon when the 2009 Watchmen film was released.
"We felt that this would be a great opportunity for us to reach out to the new readers and see if we can convert them into longtime readers. You want to lead with your best foot and give them a flavor of something they already know," he said. "All the creators on these books sought to match or outdo what was done in the original. I don't think anyone is going, 'Oh if I'm only 50 percent as good [as the original], that would be great.' These guys—they're true artists."
What do you think? Can the prequels match Moore's seminal original?