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Watchmen are back in a 7 book prequel series. Check out the covers

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Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons made comic book magic with Watchmen. There have long been rumours and talk that DC would be returning to the characters in some kind of prequel format.

According to THR this summer, the company will publish seven prequel comic book mini-series called Before Watchmen, each week unleashing a new title focusing on the characters’ lives and adventures in the years before the original story.

Those characters — Rorschach, Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl (whose first issue cover is seen exclusively here), Ozymandias, Silk Spectre and the 1940s superteam The Minutemen – will be featured in stories from such notable comics creators as Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Adam Hughes, Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert, among others.

DC now feel enough time has passed since the 1986 classic for them to return to the characters. Although I am a huge fan of the original I am curious to see what the prequels will bring us.

“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 in a statement. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told.

The company has also enlisted the blessing of Gibbons. “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,” he said in his statement.

Here are the teams on the different issues:

Rorschach by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Comedian by Brian Azzarello and JG Jones

Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke

Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner

Doctor Manhattan by J Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes

Nite Owl by J. M. Strazynski with Andy and Joe Kubert)

Ozymandias by Len Wein and Jae Lee.

Each issue will also contain a two page back up strip, Curse of the Crimson Corsair, by Len Wein, drawn by Watchmen colourist John Higgins.

Straczynski is writing the four-issue Nite Owl series (which has art by Andy and Joe Kubert) as well as the four-issue Dr. Manhattan (art by Hughes).

He spoke to THR about how he got involved in the project.

The short answer is: I was asked. The long answer: Ever since Dan DiDio was handed the reins (along with Jim Lee) over at DC, he’s been making bold, innovative moves that might have scared the hell out of anyone else. At a time in the industry when big events tend to be “Okay, we had Team A fight Team B last year, so this year we’re gonna have Team B fight team C!” Dan has chosen to revitalize lines, reinvent worlds and come at Watchmen head-on. It was, I think, about two years ago that he first mentioned that he was considering the idea, and he’s to be commended for fighting to make this happen.

He also said how he was nervous about taking on the project.

Anyone who sets foot into the Watchmen universe and isn’t just a little nervous should be given a few days of electroshock therapy. I’ve always considered Watchmen to be one of the best graphic novels ever written, and when it came out back in 1986 I was as blown away as everyone else. Just masterful.

The thing is, though, writers are always being asked to play in amazing universes created by other people, and you can’t let that scare you. If Darren Aronofsky can plan for a Noah’s Ark movie, Steven Spielberg can consider tackling the story of Moses, and Mel Gibson can do another Bible movie, I think it’s safe to say that the Watchmen universe is fair game, provided that you approach the work with clean hands and good intent.

The perception that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan is both absolutely understandable and deeply flawed. As good as these characters are – and they are very good indeed – one could make the argument, based on durability and recognition, that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But I don’t hear Alan or anyone else suggesting that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should have been allowed to write Superman. Certainly Alan himself did this when he was brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein.

Leaving aside the fact that the Watchmen characters were variations on pre-existing characters created for the Charleton Comics universe, it should be pointed out that Alan has spent most of the last decade writing very good stories about characters created by other writers, including Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Dorothy (from Wizard of normal”>Oz), Wendy (from Peter Pan), as well as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Jeyll and Hyde, and Professor Moriarty (used in the successful League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). I think one loses a little of the moral high ground to say, “I can write characters created by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and Frank Baum, but it’s wrong for anyone else to write my characters.”

The whole point of having great characters is the opportunity to explore them more deeply with time, re-interpreting them for each new age. That DC allowed these characters to sit on a shelf for over two decades as a show of respect is salutary, but there comes a time when good characters have to re-enter the world to teach us something about ourselves in the present.

How do you feel about Watchmen prequels? Will you be buying them?

Source: Bleeding Cool