Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

A lot of chatter going on about this new Before Watchmen series. What do I think of the potential for a new Watchmen series?

Well I think it’ll be fine. Just fine. Not great. And that’s it.

See, I think about Before Watchmen the same way that I think about the Watchmen movie. Let me clarify.

I LIKE the Watchmen movie. Seriously, I do. I don’t think anyone could have MADE a better produced or better performed Watchmen movie than what we got. They did all they COULD DO with a movie like that. And I’m grateful.


Even the best produced and performed Watchmen film could never embody the spirit and themes of the original comic.

It just can’t be done. Watchmen isn’t still around today because it’s ‘cool’ or even because it’s ahead of it’s time. In fact, I might even say Watchmen is very dated by now.

It’s around today because of the complexity of what Alan Moore did with the media of comic. God, I can’t even articulate what Watchmen does. It plays around with your expectations ABOUT comic books and superheroes. Such that, somehow, the transition between Golden Age, cheesy superheroes to the dark anti-heroes of the 1980’s sort of becomes synonymous with the cultural shift in our own awareness of the moral complexity of issues such as gay rights, abortion, etc.

(Or SOMETHING like that. I can’t even put it into words but that’s as close as I can get.)

I don’t think Watchmen was ever meant to be a ‘universe’ that you can live in. Not anymore than Pulp Fiction was meant to be a place that gets fully fleshed out, with background material and what not.

This is a surprise stance for me, I know. Because normally I love, love, LOVE revisiting things. I LOVE when Thundercats gets an overhaul and a reboot or whatever. But some things I just wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole and Watchmen is one of them. Why? Well look at it this way.

Would you read a collection of four issue mini-series prequels about the characters of Pulp Fiction? You wouldn’t NEED to. The details of the story in Pulp Fiction are kind of extraneous. It’s the THEMES that are important. That’s why Pulp Fiction doesn’t have a linear point A to point B plot line. Because it doesn’t really matter what timeframe things happen in. It just matters that you get the point of the movie (which I could write about in an entirely different post, if needed).

DC will have to dig deep to put something into these prequels that make them stand out and feel Watchmen worthy, rather than just a few quick issues that tells us a lot of what we already know about these characters.

I don’t think there should be Watchmen video games or action figures (well, okay, maybe for those hardcore collectors). Rorschach isn’t Batman. He isn’t cool.

In fact, you can make an argument that Rorschach isn’t even heroic. Rorschach is actually very choiceless in this story. It’s like he’s just been imprinted on, by violence, and he can’t do anything else other than WHAT he’s doing. He’s just driven by these experiences that have impacted him--there’s no free will. In fact, I think that’s what EVERYONE in Watchmen is doing. Rorschach at least sees this a little more clearly than the other characters.

So, you know. It’ll be fine. It just won’t be Watchmen, the way it was and the way it could never be again.

Truth be told, I’d be more impressed with a gutsier move like Watchmen 2 or something like that, rather than a play-it-safe series of prequels. Like maybe a Watchmen story that takes a stab at cultural shifts that have occurred in the last fifteen years kind of thing.

Well, you know. Now that I’ve written this, maybe these series will skyrocket into legendary status and I’ll sit around eating these words for the rest of my life. But I think DC is going to have their work cut out for them to make more out of these little re-visits than some forgettable additions to collect in a trade paperback.