Is there any story in the history of comic books more untouchable than Watchmen, the comic series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons which helped redefine the entire genre back in 1986?
Not anymore, if this buzz is true.
It was long thought to be an unfilmable work outside of an HBO series, and some would say that Zack Snyder's 2009 attempt proved them right. But he tried it. He touched it. And perhaps that opened the floodgates for the new rumors about DC Comics deciding to try their hand at a prequel.
More specifically, four new Watchmen miniseries, all prequels, within a overall plot devised by Darwyn Cooke, who has admitted to working on a secret "exciting and infuriating" project for DC he won't discuss. Rumor is he'll be writing and drawing a book or two, and other names involved include Andy Kubert, J.G. Jones, J. Michael Straczynski, John Higgins, and original Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons.
Gibbons has never seemed to share Moore's notoriously prickly attitude about other people adapting his work, and while some might not often agree with Moore's take on things, in the case of Watchmen, almost everyone who reads and loves comics tends to view it as sacrosanct. But DC's New 52 is completely revamping the origin of their flagship character Superman and their entire 70-odd years of continuity, so perhaps with this new 'everything new and different' sensibility they're going with, all the old traditions they used to honor are out the door as well. It's a franchise, and the comic industry is hurting these days, so it's time to strip-mine and exploit the hell out of it, it seems.
If this does turn out to be a reality, then, will it cheapen the original, or just cheapen the people trying to rehash it? Or, perhaps, is the original more hallowed than it should be? Given how often comics will feed on their old ideas and revamp them as a standard practice we all accept and expect, maybe Watchmen is just one more wild world where writers and artists can get together to tell stories?
If this happens... what would those four prequel series be? Minis for Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, The Comedian and the Minutemen? It feels surreal to even try to talk about specifics at this point.
Whatever happens, no matter how noble or ignoble the intentions, it will be very hard to look at new Watchmen comics created by people who aren't Alan Moore and not think of this: