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'Watchmen' prequel released amid controversy

Original creators opinions' differ, but DC Comics co-publisher says fans should keep an open mind on follow-up to top-selling graphic novel.
by Matthew Price Published: June 8, 2012

One of the best-selling graphic novels in history gets a prequel starting this week, and it's not been without its share of controversy.

“Before Watchmen” is a prequel to the graphic novel “Watchmen.”

Set in an alternate 1985 on the brink of nuclear war, “Watchmen” is one of the medium's most acclaimed graphic novels. The mature, complex storyline was created by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons in 1986-87. It was adapted into a Zack Snyder film in 2009.

Moore said in an interview that his reaction to the prequels is “a certain degree of weary contempt.”

“It's gone beyond anger,” he told Fast Company. “It's almost tragically comical. It's commerce over art. I'm proud of the work I did on ‘Watchmen,' but it's surrounded by such a toxic cloud of memories.”

Gibbons, who co-created the “Watchmen” series with Moore, shared his thoughts at DC Comics' Source blog in February.

“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,” Gibbons said.

“Watchmen” is a superhero murder mystery that has layers of depth both in the plot and the artwork. When superhero-turned-government agent The Comedian is murdered, his former colleague Rorschach goes into action. Rorschach suspects someone is targeting the now-outlawed masked vigilantes for extinction.

The new prequels will fill out story elements occurring before the events of “Watchmen” over the course of seven miniseries.

In an interview with The Oklahoman, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio said the success of DC Comics in relaunching its entire superhero line in 2011 helped provide momentum for “Before Watchmen.”

“We started with ‘The New 52' last year, and it was something that everybody said you couldn't do, that it was impossible to do,” DiDio said in a phone interview. “But we found a way to make it work, and not only that, to be successful at it.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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