[Re-Update: Read on for Alan Moore’s thoughts on the Watchmen Prequel Series and Covers of the Prequel Comics!]

Few things in media today are held sacred, from remakes and reboots of popular TV shows and movies, to the practice of mining a franchise until every last gem of profit has been pulled loose.

In that sense, it’s not surprising to learn that reports from last year were accurate, and that DC Comics is going to be bastardizing revisiting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal graphic novel, Watchmen, in order to create a series of prequel stories, set within the Watchmen universe and featuring some of the iconic Watchmen characters.

Read on for details on the prequel series, which has been titled 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.

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).


–       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.

RE-UPDATE: Check out the gallery of covers for the Before Watchmen comics!

While the lineup of creative talent is VERY promising (Azzarello doing Rorschach and The Comedian? Yes Please!), the question still remains: is this endeavor going to do anything but hamper the greatness of Alan Moore’s dark, disturbing and insightful look at the existence of superheroes in a real-world socio-political context? Are the pasts of the Watchmen characters (a lot of which were mentioned or implied in the original series) going to offer insight into things not already revealed by the original tale?

More to the point: even if there is new ground to cover, considering how deftly and effectively Alan Moore developed these characters and brought them around to resolution, is there anything that actually matters left to explore?

Moore himself has remained a controversial figure in the comic book industry; the few times he does speak up to let his opinion be known, it has almost always been to express his negative view of “the industry” – be it comic book publishers, or the many movie studios that have tried to adapt his various works. Moore has had his name removed from many of the films based on his stories (see: Swamp Thing, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen) and it’s no surprise to see that his name is nowhere to be found amongst the list of creative talent working on Before Watchmen.

At the risk of speculating, it’s easy to assume that Moore sees this as yet another attempt at a cash-grab by a profit-driven industry, rather than a genuine attempt to pursue the goal he believes in: telling a good, thought-provoking, status-quo-upsetting story. Whether or not Before Watchmen turns out to be a hollow commodity rather than an enriching addition to the Watchmen universe, remains to be seen.

UPDATE: No need for Speculation any more! Moore himself spoke with the New York Times, calling this move by DC Comics “completely shameless.” He added, “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.”

As we here at Screen Rant asked nearly 3 years ago: with DC Comics creating more Watchmen stories, can the publisher’s partner, Warner Bros., be far behind in creating more Watchmen movies? Only time will tell.

Stay tuned for more details as the summer 2012 release date for Before Watchmen draws nearer.

Source: DC Comics & New York Times