Not since the launch of Image Comics do I recall the amount of public discussion and debate for several months prior to the release of the actual first issue. Now that the first of the actual comic books has hit the stands, I thought it might be nice to have a thread to discuss the comics themselves, rather than the controversy surrounding them.

MINUTEMEN #1: Elsewhere in this forum, Cap has posted a review of this first issue of the first prequel mini-series. I don’t know whether or not he plans to review each issue of every series individually, but if not, here’s a place to discuss them all. For my own part, I liked the way Darwin Cooke has begun to delve into the origins and backgrounds of characters which had only supporting roles in the Moore/Gibbons original. He’s even manage to successfully mimic some of the storytelling tropes of the classic groundbreaking series.

“So far, so good,” says I.

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This was one of the series I actually had the least interest in, but after all of the complaining I got on board. I'm glad I did, I liked it a lot, and as Jeff said it reminds me of a teen romance book.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

SILK SPECTRE #1: Bought and read this one last Wednesday but don’t have it with me today. Like Minutemen #1 before it, Silk Spectre #1 successfully mimics (perhaps “utilizes” would be a better word) another of Watchmen’s visual tropes: the nine-panel grid.

I don’t really have a horse in the Alan Moore vs. DC Comics race, but in the past, creators such as Neil Gaiman, Jack Kirby and, yes, Alan Moore, too, have purposefully created characters and situations specifically intended for others to develop. This new line of titles reminds me of nothing so much as that (except for, y’know, the “purposefully” and “specifically intended” parts). I guess what I’m getting at is Alan Moore’s comment along the lines that DC is strip-mining ideas he had 25 years ago, but that’s not what these series are about, at least not so far.

Perhaps I might feel differently if I was Alan Moore, but I’m not so I don’t.

Ewwwww.....

Mark Sullivan said:

I just heard Adam Hughes talk about this at HeroesCon today. He said they asked him a while back...2010, I think, and he was one of the first ones they asked. He admitted that he was out of practice at doing interiors, but seemed to be working hard to stay on schedule. He also said that he wants to draw men wearing pants on his next project :)

Wandering Sensei said:

Yes, in fact, the Dr. Manhattan issues have art by none other than Adam Hughes. So expect that to wrap up in early 2016. (Sorry, he's one of my favorite artists since he was on Justice League America back in the late 90's, but is easily lapped by a one-legged turtle when it comes to crossing his finish lines on interiors...)

Randy Jackson said:...and possibly Dr. Manhattan.

Watchmen III - Men in Pants.  I'm sure DiDio is working on it even as we speak.

 

Regarding Watchmen II, this is the best review I've seen of the project so far.  By Lance Parkin, sometime writer of Doctor Who novels.

I would read that. But I read anything Chabon writes...

Of the series so far, the one I'm enjoying the most is the one about the Minutemen.  I'm not sure what else needs to be said about the six characters highlighted in the other books, but I'm very interested in the heroes that came before.

I thought there was enough info in the original Watchmen story (trade or issues) to flesh out the personalities and the characters of the original Minutemen group.  I espeically enjoyed the insight that some of the characters dropped from time to time about various ones either going mad, or being revealed as lesbian, or being too brutal or having character flaws.  It added another layer of reality for me.

Rich Steeves said:

I would read that. But I read anything Chabon writes...


I thought it was a great piece of writing itself and I'd look out for more stuff from Parkin on the strength of it.

He's on the button to draw attention to the sheer lack of ambition on display when Before Watchmen is put beside Watchmen. DC gave Moore and Gibbons the go ahead to produce a 12-issue standalone series starring brand new heroes. They negotiated a ground-breaking deal that encouraged the creators to give everything they had to it (which DC later reneged on the spirit of, but still, they meant it at the time :-) assuming they weren't being complete duplicitous scumbags...) The put a lot of their marketing behind it and ensured that it was collected as an attractive complete story PDQ.

Moore tackled the single biggest issue of the day in the Doomsday Clock - giving a comicbook solution, but what the hey, he's a comicbook writer. as a central theme, he identified the rampant nostalgia of the 80s as a sign of a society that had no belief in its future.

With Before Watchmen it is all nostalgia, being set not in the 20th Century our parents grew up in, but those decades as they were presented by the nostalgia industry in our lifetimes. Whatever about society, DC is showing no faith in the future of their artform at any rate.

And format? All these short series that needn't hold on to their audience for 12 issues, just 4-6. They'll be combined in lots of ways and resold to the same audience several times before ending up as a bloated 30-chapter Omnibus edition that again will only appeal to the fanboy market. DC are hedging their bets and going the least risk - least artistic return route.

Google DiDio's interview about BW in the UK Guardian and count the number of times he uses the word 'product'. Says it all really.

(Hope this counts as discussing the comics theselves. lol.)

With Before Watchmen it is all nostalgia, being set not in the 20th Century our parents grew up in, but those decades as they were presented by the nostalgia industry in our lifetimes.

I guess you've read all the series' Figs, (including the ones that haven't been released yet), so that you can state this categorically?  I suppose there's no real need... facts can always be made to fit a good theory.

One has to let rip now and again.

 

Maybe I'll be proved wrong?  Do you think it's going to tackle the burning issues of our moment, where our culture is now, etc?  It is an irony that unhealthy nostalgia was one of the targets of Moore's writing.  (It is as far from the first publication of Watchmen now, as the publication of FF #1 was when Watchmen came out first.)

 

Think about it though.  Watchmen was the series that the mainstream, even literary world were queueing up to praise and take seriously.  They want to love superhero comics, but its hard to justify most of the time, what with the tie-ins and over-exposure and lunchboxes.

 

DiDio and Co. with the format and 'creative' marketing decisions that they've made, are saying in effect "WRONG! It's just another superhero comic, with tie-ins and over-exposure and toasters.  We're taking it back for the fanboys!"

Watchmen was the series that the mainstream, even literary world were queueing up to praise and take seriously.

Watchmen was a series that the mainstream took seriously.

He's on the button to draw attention to the sheer lack of ambition on display when Before Watchmen is put beside Watchmen.

I'm not really sure a prequel, (or a sequel for that matter), is the place I would be looking to see extensive ambition and the "burning issues of our moment" addressed.  Seems like unrealistic expectations to me.  By the very nature of a prequel, these comics would not be able to do that.  Dismissing them because they have to do something else is, quite honestly, not fair.  

It's possible these minis will turn into pure nostalgic drivel, but that's not the only possibility.  There are many different types of stories that can be told, why automatically assume the worst?  Might be helpful to actually read them instead of just promoting an agenda... or not.  

Watchmen was the superhero series that the mainstream took seriously.

 

The ambition and attempt to address the issues of the moment was part and parcel of what made Watchmen great.  Doing a tie-in that didn't include those in the mix is not doing justice to the work of art they are custodians of.  You claim they aren't setting out to do justice to it in that way, but that approach is exactly what I'm taking issue with.

 

The Big Two have a marvelous production model, where instead of putting something on the market to stand or fall on whether it is any good or not, everybody who is interested has to buy all the installments, or two-thirds of them before anyone is allowed to judge them.  It does mean they get away with having huge sales on at least the early issues of series built up by the hype machine.  Then they interpret the huge sales (within their little niche) as vindication of the actual content of their product, and bring out more of the same.

 

That's a discussion for another day, but in this case, they have gone out of their way to produce a series that is pretty inaccessible to those (millions of?) people who have bought Watchmen, and ensuring that what would be an event if a comparable work of literature were getting the sequel/prequel treatment, is something of a damp squib.  They've certainly approached Watchmen as another old comic to stripmine in their 'business as usual' fashion, when it is in fact a huge cultural touchstone of a book.

 

Run DMC used the smiley-face iconography based on Watchmen.  The whole Acid House scene of the late 80s often used the bloodied badge as well as the smiley face.  Alan Moore was even name-checked in a pop song.  Not something that happens every day to comics creators.  Watchmen was a big deal.

 

So yes.  Disappointing.

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