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Literature

February 6, 2012

Before Watchmen, or Why I Won’t Read This

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Written by: ravenhaired
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Before Watchmen Rorschach

Before Watchmen

So, yeah.  Before Watchmen.  I mean, we haven’t ticked off Alan Moore in a while, right?

I was honestly puzzled when DC made this announcement, and experienced a varied flood of thoughts and feelings.  As I logged into my e-mail client to forward the story link to a friend, I found he’d already beaten me to it:


From: (Edit)
To: Ravenhaired
Subject: No Subject
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012

Ummmm

I think I’m going to lose it today:

http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2012/02/01/dc-entertainment-officially-announces-%E2%80%9Cbefore-watchmen%E2%80%9D/


At that point we got into a back-and-forth during the day, questioning the news and our emotional responses to it.  I’d say we easily went through the five fanboy stages of grief in the space of an afternoon.

 

Before Watchmen RorschachDenial
“Yeah, I heard that rumor, too.  Wait … WHAT?”

Anger
“Well I’m not buying this.  If DC thinks I’m not that stubborn, they have another thing coming, because I definitely could be.”

Bargaining (or something like it)
“I really don’t want to read any of those books, I think it’s a horrible idea and I hate that they’re doing it … but will I be able to fight off my curiosity?  Tough call.”
“I don’t know.  I’m still torn.  Also very curious about the price, has that been mentioned at all?  I highly doubt these will ‘hold the line at $2.99.’”

 
Depression
“I don’t even know where to start … it’s so violently disturbing a concept.  It makes me sick to think how bad they could be.  Ugh.”

Stage Five:  Acceptance(?)

Well.  Maybe not.

 

I can’t deny my unfettered intrigue at the thought of a Darwyn Cooke/Amanda Conner Silk Spectre book, or Brian Azzarello writing Comedian.  Reading these prequels, surely, would provide some enjoyment to us one way or another.  But each time my mind begins to wander in this direction—each time I start to think I want to at least look into these when they’re released—my heart inevitably rages against the idea.

I’ve read a lot of articles (this is an excellent one), blog posts, twitter reactions, and the like over the last couple of days with regard to Before Watchmen, and I have to say … as much as my gut reaction is in line with your typical “defend creator rights” and “Watchmen should be left untouched” proclamations, the bottom line here is a question that not many people appear to be asking out front:

Why should I read this?

The funny thing is, DC aren’t telling me why—at least, it certainly wasn’t in their press announcement.  I didn’t see anything in that write-up other than your standard hype and sensationalism.  What could Before Watchmen possibly show me that I didn’t receive from the original book in order to warrant this prequel?  Dave Gibbons claimed that he and Alan Moore told the complete story they wanted to tell, and as the reader, I feel I very much got that.  Yet DC claims this initiative will “build on the foundation of the original Watchmen,” but where every character was already given their adequate back story, I can’t possibly fathom why I should need more.

No one is telling me why this is a great idea—all they’re telling me is why Alan Moore is (supposedly) so wrong.

Wait—no.  I take that back.  Brian Azzarello is telling me why I should read this.  Here’s his sales pitch:
“I think the gut reaction is going to be, ‘Why?’  But then when the actual books come out, the answer will be, ‘Oh, that’s why.’”

In other words, dear reader, if you want to know why you should read these books … you need to just read these books.

And that is a bullshit answer.

You deserve better than what essentially amounts to “pay the money first and then we’ll give you a reason.”  If it weren’t already blatantly obvious this is merely a milking of the cash cow as opposed to sincere development of the story, the above remark alone should prove it to you.

So am I going to read Before Watchmen?  I can’t deny my intense curiosity.  But while I’d like to have faith that some of the creators could very well do this justice, in the end, my resistance to these books is about much more than who’s writing or drawing.  Come this summer, I’ll be sticking with my convictions and leaving these books on the shelves.

 

Money is more powerful than outrage.  Choosing to or not to buy a book is stronger than the outrage followed by a purchase of said book.  –Skottie Young (via Twitter)

I don’t want money.  What I want is for this not to happen.  –Alan Moore

 



About the Author

ravenhaired





 
 

 
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  1. [...] on over to the newly-redesigned Nerd Caliber and check out my post in reaction to last week’s announcement of DC’s Before Watchmen [...]



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