Yes, they’re doing it.
After months of rumors, leaks and debates online about whether or not any new material would be made from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal 1986 comic series “Watchmen,” DC Entertainment this morning announced a wide range of prequel comics set within the world of the original work. Branded “Before Watchmen,” the seven series published by the company’s DC Comics division will delve into the lives of the six main cast members of the original series as well as the Minutemen team whose exploits were historically part of the book. DC also plans to cap off the release of the titles — which will see a new issue published each week over 35 weeks starting this summer — with a one-shot epilogue capping the entire event.
A “Watchmen” follow-up of some sorts has been publicly discussed since the summer of 2010 when, shortly after the birth of DC Entertainment as a Warner Bros. division and the promotion of Dan DiDio and Jim Lee to Co-Publishers of DC Comics, Moore himself came out to say that DC had attempted to discuss a deal on such projects with him . Though DiDio played demure at the time, it’s been widely assumed since then that some kind of “Watchmen” project was in the works. And in the two years since, plenty of rumors and leaks have hit including Bleeding Cool’s uncovering of concept art from the likes of J.G. Jones and Joe Kubert and Andy Kubert as well as additional rumors as to creative talent.
It should come as no surprise, then, that creatively, the “Before Watchmen” prequel series will be shepherded by the writers Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski and original “Watchmen” series editor Len Wein with art from Cooke, Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones, Andy and Joe Kubert, Jae Lee and original “Watchmen” series colorist John Higgins. Aside from the core miniseries, which are spelled out in the PR below, Wein and Higgins will create an ongoing back-up serial titled “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” to run throughout the entire project.
While Alan Moore has long sworn off any association with DC Comics or “Watchmen,” Gibbons did give his blessing to the project as part of DC’s PR saying, “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.”
UPDATE: When reached for comment this morning by CBR News, Moore directed CBR to his statement in the New York Times, which referred to the project as “completely shameless.” He told the paper, “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago” and added that the series is a reminder of “draconian contracts” he signed in the 1980s with the publisher. Moore will not take any action as a result of “Before Watchmen.” “I don’t want money. What I want is for this not to happen,” he said. “As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’ ”
CBR News has an exclusive first interview with JMS on the “Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan” series, which you can read here, and DC’s official announcement is below in full. Stay tuned for more as it becomes available.
Official Press Release
DC ENTERTAINMENT OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES “BEFORE WATCHMEN”
This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.
“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “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.”
Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).
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 back-up story called CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR, written by original series editor Len Wein and 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.
“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,” said Dave Gibbons, WATCHMEN co-creator and original series artist.
“Comic books are perhaps the largest and longest running form of collaborative fiction,” said DiDio and Lee. “Collaborative storytelling is what keeps these fictional universes current and relevant.”