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mygif

This is just more of DC being “penny wise but pound fool”. Beyond what my thoughts on the original watchmen may be, the creative prospects for a continued success with prequels to an already finished story are slim to none, and then DC will be in a creative rut again, having spent money, time and decent creators (bar JMS) for a short term gain.

Maybe the #1s will sell.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 3rd, 2012 at 4:38 pm

but nobody’s out there demanding we see a ‘Silent Running 2′

Sure, studios are motivated first/last/only by whether a profit can be made. But to a large extent their evaluation of that is based on whether people want to see a sequel. And we do.

Basic human nature. Caddyshack was a fun movie. Sure we’d like to enjoy something like that again. So if offered Caddyshack 2, we’re interested.

I mean, there’s GOT to be some level of demand. Movie studios are in it first/last/always to make money. And if it didn’t get enough people willing to plunk down their money, they’d never make a Police Academy 2, not to mention 6.

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They look at comics fans and see people so interested in the Watchmen universe that they don’t care about what’s going to be on those pages in particular; they just want to go back to that world for a little bit longer and live there

If this is really what DC is thinking, then the folks in charge are far, far stupider than I have ever given them credit for. If that’s all they’re trying to do – generate a tiny bit more interest among people who are already comic book fans – then they need to undergo a serious rethink about their operations. Because that’s nuts.

Watchmen is DC’s single biggest selling title. The only rationale I can see for them going to the well is because it IS DC’s biggest selling title. Year after year for a couple of decades now, Watchmen sells.

And who does it sell to? Sure it sells to the general comic book fans, but that can’t possibly account for it’s popularity. It has to be selling to people who don’t normally read comics but, for whatever reason, have heard of this “Watchmen” thing and have decided to give it a read.

They may never pick up another comic book again. And THAT KILLS the folks at DC. They have this entire base of people picking up Watchmen and reading it and then moving on to something else instead of buying another DC book.

So what do you do? You start up an “After Watchmen” program designed to market to people who have just read Watchmen and are open to the idea of another book. It does okay, but you’re STILL missing a chunk of that market – they’re just walking away. Your catalog doesn’t have what they want.

So there are two possibilities. Either what they want is another book by Moore and Gibbons (because normal people buy books for their authors, not for their publishers), or they want “more Watchmen”. If that’s your starting premise you’ve got two choices – get Moore and Gibbons to write another book or find a way to get them “more Watchmen”.

The idea of getting Moore and Gibbons to write another book is dead in the water to start with – not gonna happen. So they’ve moved to their second plan – more Watchmen and hope the franchise is actually the strong piece of the Watchmen puzzle.

They’re wrong, of course. Watchmen sells primarily not because of the variation on stock characters that Moore provided by dirtying up some old Charlton properties, but because of the phenomenal use of form that Moore and Gibbons put onto each page. It’s two guys at the top of their game pouring their heart and soul into a work and you don’t get that from a franchise property.

But whatever – I can’t be outraged by this. It may do moderately well or it may flop completely, but it isn’t going to solve that puzzle of “why do people read Watchmen and then never buy another comic book again”. Which, I think, is what DC desperately wants to solve.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 3rd, 2012 at 4:43 pm

As for whether or not prequels to Watchmen, the “Moore himself has been on record for the last 27 years as saying he does not want other writers handling the characters” argument should be dropped.

As several have noted, it’s an ironic complain coming from the man who wrote League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls. The characters in Watchmen weren’t even created by Moore except in the most specific sense. They were the Charlton characters with the thinnest of veneers.

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But more than that, I wonder, is there really a demand for this to begin with?

And that’s the thing; I’ve never read about any serious or sustained fan push for these characters to return. Or for Barry Allen. Or for Jason Todd. Hal Jordan, at least, had that going for him.

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@Sean D. Martin: I’m sure that Alan Moore is not saying that nobody should ever be able to use these characters even decades after his death; he’s saying that they should not be farmed out as profit sources for a giant multinational publisher without their creators having a say in how they’re used.

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Wolfthomas said on February 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 pm

An interesting about the pulp industry (thanks Brubaker) during the first half of the last century is that while popular characters like the Shadow and Doc Savage sold well, so did thinly veiled rip-off characters like the Phantom Detective or Doc Zeppelin. It was like the audience wanted those stories so much that much, that they didn’t care that it wasn’t the real deal.

I feel a similar thing will happen with the Before Watchmen, oh we’ll all groan about how it’s not as good as the original, that certain stuff was unessescary. But at the end of the day, we get more Watchmen, which we’ll all eat up voraciously.

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@John Seavey: The simple fact of the matter is that Alan Moore doesn’t get to make that decision. They aren’t HIS characters. If he wanted them to be HIS characters, then he should have made damn sure to get that in writing before he did his work.

Moore could have done his masterpiece without using pre-existing trademarked characters and without DC involvement, then he would have the control to say what is done with those characters. But DC made it feasible to get the story into readers’ hands. He made a tradeoff, creative control for distribution ease. You don’t get one without giving up some of the other.

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@AMS: And I thought I would see “Gibbons doesn’t object. So that handles the ethical thing.” (from ComicsAlliance) wouldn’t be topped for ill-informed comments on this topic.

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This is why manga (and anime) is getting popular. Those stories have a beginning and an end.

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@BringTheNoise: Intellectual property law is what it is. We can wish all we want that creators had more power and control, but it doesn’t change the reality of the world. The reality of the world of comics is that the publishers have the power (much like many other creative industries). Now is as ripe a time as any to change it, because the Internet gives independent creators a much better shot at getting worthwhile products into consumers’ hands. But DC’s money and network made “Watchmen” more than a pipe dream at a time when a fully independent comic series would have been set up for failure.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Moore made a good-faith effort to keep the creative rights to the story, characters, and setting and believed such rights were in place, but got somehow screwed out of them. In that case, he has a lot more room for complaint than I give him credit for.

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@zob The good ones, anyway.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 3rd, 2012 at 6:59 pm

John Seavey: I’m sure that Alan Moore is not saying that nobody should ever be able to use these characters even decades after his death; he’s saying that they should not be farmed out as profit sources for a giant multinational publisher without their creators having a say in how they’re used.

I’m not sure what Moore’s saying, since the only quotes I’ve been able to find on his reaction to the project boil down to:

“I don’t want money,” he said. “What I want is for this not to happen.”

“As far as I know,” he said, “there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’ ”

So, whether that’s “I don’t want these characters used” or “I don’t want these characters used without my involvement”* is, at best, hard to tell without further info. Either way, I still don’t see it as anything other than a weak argument. If the former, Moore’s made free use of others characters in many of his works (including Watchmen). If the latter, though he may now say the agreement he had with DC in the 1980s were a “draconian contracts”, he did sign them and I would expect that they made it clear who owned the characters.

* Which, of course, will never happen given Moore’s relationship with DC.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 3rd, 2012 at 7:05 pm

AMS: Now, it’s entirely possible that Moore made a good-faith effort to keep the creative rights to the story, characters, and setting and believed such rights were in place, but got somehow screwed out of them. In that case, he has a lot more room for complaint than I give him credit for.

I recall reading that Moore did get “screwed” (I’m sure DC would disagree with the characterization, of course) in the merchandising. DC classified certain items related to the series that were sold as marketing materials, or some such, (which Moore didn’t get a piece of) rather than as merchandising products (which he did) thereby keeping Moore from sharing in some of the profits.

But I haven’t heard that the rights to the characters or story were in dispute.

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The thing to know is that the Watchmen rights were supposed to revert back to Moore and Gibbons after the book had been out of print for a year. That;s in the contracts, that’s in writing. So Moore did get the possibility of full creative control over the characters, and (I would assume) expected it sometime in the last 20-odd years. The trick is, DC has never let the book go out of print,a move that I personally find highly questionable and skirting the line of legality.

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Anticorium said on February 3rd, 2012 at 7:19 pm

a time when a fully independent comic series would have been set up for failure

Dave pre-batshit-insanity Sim.

Dave post-batshit-insanity Sim too, for that matter.

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The Watchmen prequel news is really the last bit of evidence that DC is desperate to squeeze out every last dollar by rehashing every last money-making idea of the last decades:
They’ve selectively rebooted their main universe like after Crisis on Infinite Earth’s, they have brought back that early-90′s/Image-style and creators on (too) many of their books, Animal Man and Swamp Thing got relaunched with critically acclaimed writers that twisted around what we know about the characters to tell more mature stories (which wouldn’t have happened if not for the famous runs by Morrison and Moore), we get a new and different retelling of Superman’s origin and early career just like with Byrne’s Man of Steel and now we get more Watchmen.
Of course the recent money-making ideas like having Green Lantern’s with many different colors and Batmen with many different nationalities get to continue.

Given how ubiquitous the Guy Fawkes masks have become in the media what with all the protesting and hacking, it seems more and more likely (if DC has the rights to do it, that is) that we’ll get a sequel/prequel to V for Vendetta.

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@AMS: As Colby notes, the contract Gibbons & Moore signed back when they started on Watchmen stated that the rights to the work would revert back to them one year after it went out of print (this being the mid-80s, most people would expect that to be 12 months after the final issue came out). I thought that was more or less univerally known in comics fandom. Now, there are arguments on both sides as to how much you can really blame DC for keeping the book in print ever since – it kinda breaks the spirit of the agreement but on the other hand, the damn thing sells more or less continually, so it’s not like they’re keeping it in print out of spite. I tend to come down on Moore’s side, but I can certainly see both sides.

And just one more point:

Moore could have done his masterpiece without using pre-existing trademarked characters

He did. They’re certainly influenced by – and to an extent based on – the Charlton characters, but it they were just the comics equivalent of a pallette swap, DC would never have offered him the rights.

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@Sean D. Martin: Moore’s stance is basically, “Hey, if they’d treated me right twenty-five years ago, when I was still willing to discuss doing a sequel with my active participation, then we might have something going here. But at this point, it’s all water over the dam.”

@AMS: He does have it in writing. Seriously, is there anyone by this point who doesn’t know the various ways that DC shafted him on the ‘Watchmen’ deal? Five minutes with Wikipedia. That’s all it takes. :)

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Well there we have it. The comics industry seems to have too many deals wrapped up in how long a property goes unused. That’s why we keep getting Spider-man movies that aren’t from Marvel, right?

So yeah, I’ll concede Moore does have a legitimate gripe. For what it’s worth, I’ve never really followed comics industry news (or in this case, history, considering the original run ended when I was 3).

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Moore wrote a completely unique work with characters from literary classics in a world and story entirely of his own creation, and a completely unique work that uses old, esoteric superheroes and pulp action heroes as the groundwork for a deep psychological examination of the genre, again in a world and story of his own creation.

DC hired some people to write a tie-in to a modern classic, after screwing the author out of his rights to the work, using the exact same characters and ideas in the original work.

These are different actions. All arguments in defense of BEFORE WATCHMEN that equate them get an automatic F.

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Mark Temporis said on February 4th, 2012 at 2:40 am

JMS did four seasons of great science fiction (rumours of an alleged fifth season of Babylon Five are an urban myth, nothing more. There was an excellent one-off by Neil Gaiman, though) and a well-recieved movie starring Angelina Jolie.

Why do his comics generally suck?

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@Mark Temporis: Thor was pretty damn good. But, yeah, I heard that his work on Spiderman was a mixed bag, to say the least.

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@Jer: That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter.

I love Watchmen, but there’s no way I’m going to read Before Watchmen. Such an outwardly crass move. JMS’ weak arguments justifying the project don’t help at all.

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Heksefatter said on February 4th, 2012 at 7:28 am

As long as Rob Liefeld does the art…

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I see comic book characters as magnets of human attention that accumulate power and become real. Exactly like Promethea, in the Immateria. Oh yeah, Alan Moore wrote that too.

I want more Adam Hughes art, as evidenced here:

http://sketchcardsaloon.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/before-watchmen-adam-hughes-did-sketch-cards/

Combine those two statements, and I could not be happier with DC’s decision. The characters of the Watchmen mythos get stronger, and the eyes of humanity get to groove on more Adam Hughes.

Win win.

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Mark Temporis said on February 4th, 2012 at 8:24 am

Heksefatter: My first joke upon hearing the rumor was that it was gonna be by Chuck Austen and Rob Liefield.

Then someone told me the thing was real, and I was all wait, what?

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@AJ: Don’t you just want at least one of these guys to be honest? “I don’t really know Alan that well, and frankly what I’m getting paid per page for this project is going to pay off my mortgage. I can use that financial security to go write good stuff, and it’s not like my story is going to make anyone forget Alan’s. In fact, ‘Watchmen’ is going to look even better by comparison.”

:)

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@AMS, I know it’s been addressed further up the comment thread, but http://it-sparkles.blogspot.com/2012/02/no-fun.html here is a simple outline of why the entire thing is so unethical and morally wrong.

Groundbreaking creators’ rights deal… which fell through due to a technicality which wasn’t even a deliberate loophole, just utterly unexpected.

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Also, the nonsensical phrase “The Watchmen Mythos” that’s been knocked about this week makes me sick.

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@AMS: ‘Legal’ does not equal ‘ethically right’ – that actually was one of the first things they taught me in law school. That guys in DC have absolute legal right to be dicks doesn’t in any way make them less such.

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I wonder how Moore would feel if the creators of the Charlton characters he altered gave approval or had some part in this. (I know it’s not possible by the way)

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on February 4th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I’m more interested in the fact that Moore compared Watchmen to Moby-Dick. Is he that good a writer?

Also anytime anyone mentions the Watchmen I must add a link to the cartoon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDDHHrt6l4w

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CapnFrance said on February 4th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

@MonkeyWithTypewwriter

He is EASILY a better writer than whoever wrote Moby Dick. I borrowed the audiobook version from the library while I was recovering from eye surgery and wasn’t allowed to look at anything or not be face down in bed, and it was more boring than just laying in a silent room.

I have no idea why anyone likes that book, aside from history having already declared it “great.”

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The above is clearly satire, right? Right?

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The decision to pin regaining the rights on the book going out of print reminds me of multiple TV actors who wound up stuck in a series because it would obviously never succeed, so they’d get paid for the pilot and move on (Robert Reed has said that was how he wound up in Brady Bunch).
A limited-time agreement would have made more sense, but who knew?

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@Jason: Considering that it was Dick Giordano, who edited the Charlton comics and brought them to DC, who asked Alan Moore to change things, I’d say the creators at least had someone looking after the characters.

As far as JMS goes, I hope he’ll be okay with it when Warner revives B5 without his involvement.

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@Chris Lowrance, I was unaware that arguments here were being graded. ;-)

Moore wrote a completely unique work with characters from literary classics in a world and story entirely of his own creation, and a completely unique work that uses old, esoteric superheroes and pulp action heroes as the groundwork for a deep psychological examination of the genre, again in a world and story of his own creation.

I doubt Frank L. Baum would ever have approved Dorothy in a foot fetish scene with the ruby slippers, or experiencing sexual awakening during the twister, or having sex with her father, but Moore did that in “Lost Girls”. (And just having looked it up, JM Barrie’s estate kicked up a fuss about the Peter Pan link, which delayed its UK release until after copyright issues expired).

Moore used characters in the public domain or those unlikely to be prosecuted in “League…” that meant he didn’t need to deal with IP issues. Yes, he should have benefited more from his work at DC, especially on “Watchmen”, but that doesn’t mean he gets a free pass on what he does versus what DC does when it comes to characters that are available to them.

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DK2 was by Frank Miller, though… and also it was awesome.

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I don’t think there is really much demand for more watchmen comics (unless Moore is writting them) but I’m probably wrong and these comic will be big sellers.

actually…time and time again I hear/read nerds talking about buying comics they don’t like because they have a sense of loyality to a character or team or they just want to make sure they have a complete collection. So the sell will probably ok at the least.

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HammerHeart said on February 5th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

This release of Watchmen prequels is an implicit admission of creative bankrupcy from DC. They’ve run out of new ideas because nobody wants to bring their new ideas to DC, and nobody wants to bring their new ideas to DC because nobody likes getting screwed. So DC is left scraping the bottom of the barrel, “relaunching” low-selling books and old copyrights while claiming that they’re really relaunching the whole line – a false claim that only survives as long as nobody mentions Batman or Green Lantern’s books. Let’s try to make something out of that old Kirby character we have and some bloggers love so hard, let’s see if we can dupe someone into buying that old Ditko concept again by bringing in Rob Liefeld, let’s see if we can bring back those books that Moore and Morrison made respectable back when DC still took chances, the leftover prestige of the previous series may attract some attention. No new ideas anywhere, just old copyrights being thrown at the wall and let’s see what sticks. At this point DC is as creative as my microwave, they’re both only good at reheating frozen properties.

The creators involved will doubtlessly get a respectable paycheck and since Alan Moore doesn’t want to play ball he’s being dismissed as a cranky old man, in a defensive reaction disturbingly similar to the fan outcry that was raised against those bad bad greedy heirs of golden-age creators who threatened to take our preciousss Superman away from non-greedy-at-all DC, thus jeopardizing comicdom’s regular fix of substandard Superman comics.

It’s just so sad. And I honestly hope this project doesn’t sell.

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not like there’s anything new at Marvel.

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The Wa2chmen stuff (and the constant refusal of a good portion of the comics internet to understand that YES, Alan Moore has been treated unethically, I don’t care if you think he’s a loudmouthed beardy lunatic) is just making me depressed at this point.

So I’m going to ask a totally unrelated question: they made a sequel to Donnie Darko? Really??!

There’s a good reason I’ve never heard of it, isn’t there.

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I wonder if it’s attachment to Alan Moore and his work that allows otherwise smart people to still manage shock and/or outrage when the comics industry continues to operate the way the comics industry has operated for a century now.

On the other hand, I’d have been interested in seeing what Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner could do together for anything, up to and including the autobiography of Jar Jar Binks.

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HammerHeart said on February 5th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Jason: of course Marvel isn’t much better, they’re going down the same spiraling drain as DC. It’s not about DC vs Marvel, both companies are creatively bankrupt IP farms insisting on an unsustainable model. The monthly superhero comic as we know it is a doomed enterprise, desperately milking their few profitable properties with three or four simultaneous titles of each.

Both DC and Marvel are struggling even as IP farms because their current model offers little incentive for creators to bring them truly original ideas; so the only thing they have left is their extensive library of used ideas, that they can hire new people to “reheat” over and over, in an endless cycle of “everything you knew is wrong/someone DIES!/someone returns/back-to-basics!/return to step 1″. That is IT for Marvel and DC, hiring new people to retell old stories is the absolute best they can offer.

And that’s ok, because the comics genre doesn’t depend on Marvel or DC. If no new Batman or Spider-Man stories were ever published again, not much would really be lost – hell, it would take years for anyone to read all the existing comics featuring those characters. If Marvel and DC closed shop next week it would be a short-term blow for many people (especially retailers, who actually have skin on the game) but comics would continue to exist; hell, even the superhero genre may outlast the Big 2.

Do I WISH it happens? Not necessarily, I love Batman and like some other heroes. In an ideal world I’d like to see those traditional companies thinking out of the box, and realizing that even though having 4 different Batman comics with connected continuities has the short-term benefit of squeezing the last dime out of the insular group of diehards whose preferences have been pandered to for so long, that approach dilutes both the stories’ quality and the character itself. And when there are half-a-dozen new Spidey comics on the shelf, none of the variations will look unique or relevant for a newcomer, so it’s also not a smart way to attract new readers (and don’t kid yourself, without attracting new readers “mainstream superhero comics” as we know then will be gone in less than 20 years).

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Hammerheart: Seriously? If someone didn’t want to read modern stories of Iron Man for example, why would they want to go back and read stories of Iron Man with transistors?

I personally hate the “everything you knew is wrong/someone DIES!/someone returns/back-to-basics!/return to step 1″ as much as anyone but I dislike it because I feel it’s unnecessary. I like straight up superhero stories. And as for the medium, superhero stories are the only stories I feel are done best by comics. Everything else can be done better in other mediums.

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A slight correction: Miller first announced his intentions to make DK2 as far back as 1996 in a 10th Anniversary article in Wizard, saying he had plotted it out but wanted to get to other things first (namely, 300).

Who would have thought the the entire raison d’etre of the first two issues of DK2 was scene after scene of Superman being attacked and humiliated, impregnating Wonder Woman, and losing Lois Lane to an explosion?

Issue #3 became something different, since Miller was working on it when 9/11 happened. But still, the book was all about Miller settling scores, and all the satire was… it was there, I guess. But it didn’t have much impact or point. Unless you’re one of those head cases who were so warped by its awfulness you’re still claiming it’s brilliant. Or you’re Kyle Baker.

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HammerHeart said on February 5th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Jason, if a given Iron Man story has literary value it’s not because of its tech – if for nothing else because Iron Man has rarely been a true sci-fi comic; usually little focus is given to cutting-edge science in Iron Man’s comic, the sci-fi being just a thin veneer over very traditional superhero comics.

Iron Man rarely lives up to its promise of avant-tech high adventure, because Marvel is as unwilling to take chances as DC and they rarely go beyond the “repulsor rays” and AI tech. The closest they ever got to a truly avant-tech IM story was Adam Warren’s Hypervelocity, a bold experiment that exists as a novelty instead of blazing a trail for the series.

But I digress, oh man do I digress. :D Don’t get me wrong, I don’t WISH the big two go bankrupt, I just think it’s pretty clearly where they’re headed if they don’t change the course. The universe of readers has been shrinking steadily, and DC’s overhyped stunt isn’t the cure… though online availability is certainly a glimpse of something with longterm potential.

What I think is that the superhero comics industry needs to take a long hard look at itself and see that the way they’re doing things is not working. The few remaining readers have to realize that too, because if the readers want mainstream comics to survive they need to acknowledge that these endless interwoven monthly continuities that drag along over decades are KILLING superhero comics.

If superhero comics are to survive we need to stop treating ongoing series as continuing linear adventures, where what happens this year necessarily follows what happened last year. If the copyrights are all they have, then their last chance of producing vital material is giving creators creative freedom to play with all toys. Treat every book like All-Star Superman and What If, by allowing creators to write the best stories they can without constraints and without having bother with tying continuity together. Wild experiments like Peter Bagge’s outrageous takes on Spider-Man or Hulk should be the standard, not the exception. If they absolutely HAVE to produce multiple Spider-Man or Batman comics, the least they could do would be to be daring and make them truly distinctive; variety is the only thing that would justify flooding the market and overexposing characters. Stop pretending that these stories move forward, we know the characters can’t age. We know Peter Parker will never be 40, and Batman will never be too old for jumping off rooftops. At some point the character’s continuity lifeline stops being a bonus that enriches stories and starts being an embarassment.

I mean, DC already has to bend over backwards to rationalize Batman’s age considering the horde of Robins he has trained at this point, and that problem only exists in the first place because every time a writer wanted to write a story where Batman takes up a Robin that writer had to reconcile that with all previous versions of the same story. It doesn’t have to be this way. The moment continuity becomes an anchor tied around the character’s feet, it’s time to untie the knot and let go of continuity. Give every creator the same freedom that was given to Morrison in All-Star Superman, to Moebius on the Silver Surger and to Bagge on Spider-Man. They have to think outside the box, otherwise the future of mainstream superhero comics is bleak. And comics will go on, and creators who want to tell avant-tech high adventures will just use their own characters instead of Iron Man.

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HammerHeart said on February 5th, 2012 at 11:18 pm

And DK2 may not have been to everyone’s tastes, but it was still way better than most of what DC currently publishes.

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HammerHeart said on February 5th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I forgot another solid Iron Man story that tried to explore the outer limits of science much further than the regular series does: Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s Extremis. Again, the exception and not the rule.

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Mark Temporis said on February 6th, 2012 at 2:19 am

Joe X: As a die-hard B5 fan, HAHAHAHAHA!

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

HammerHeart: So DC is left scraping the bottom of the barrel, “relaunching” low-selling books and old copyrights while claiming that they’re really relaunching the whole line – …. Let’s try to make something out of that old Kirby character we have …

Yeah, like that time they took that old Kirby character and let that guy from England change it around completely. Man, talk about a creatively weak series.

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Tales of the Boojum said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

They say that bad decisions make good stories. Someone decided to shoot all of earth’s remaining vegetation into space strapped to nuclear bombs, so that’s prbably a good (and maybe unintentionally hilarious) story. I’m all up for a Silent Running prequel.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

HammerHeart: both companies are creatively bankrupt IP farms insisting on an unsustainable model. The monthly superhero comic as we know it is a doomed enterprise, desperately milking their few profitable properties with three or four simultaneous titles of each.

and don’t kid yourself, without attracting new readers “mainstream superhero comics” as we know then will be gone in less than 20 years

Huh. S’funny. I remember reading posts saying exactly the same thing back on the Comics and Animation forum on CompuServe.

Point being, yes, comic book companies are in it for the money and that leads them to far more often than not to make business decisions over creative ones. And, yes, the publishing industry is changing and is likely to see some significant adjustments in how it does that business.

But definitive, “I declare them creatively bankrupt and doomed” pronouncements are just more fanboy-displaying-their-ignorance-by-claiming-to-know-what-IS-going-to-happen foolishness.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

HammerHeart: Wild experiments like Peter Bagge’s outrageous takes on Spider-Man or Hulk should be the standard, not the exception.

Be it All-Star Superman or Elseworlds or What If? or what have you, variations on the standard storyline can be great fun and an opportunity for a creative story. Just because it’s an Elseworlds certainly doesn’t mean it can’t suck (I’m looking at you Batman: The Blue, the Grey, and the Bat), but it does allow for a story that doesn’t have the constraints an ongoing tends to.

But if “outrageous takes” were to become the norm, then you’d have a disjointed, unappealing stories. Without that core, understood character to build on the occasional different take on them lacks foundation. “Who is this Peter Parker guy? I thought he was an every-man hero but in the story I read this week he’s really dark and vicious, and last week the Spider-Man comic was some light-hearted funny animal thing, and I read one last month where he was in the year 2099 with claws.” I doubt folks would tend to follow a series the only thing a character and their world seemed to have in common storyline-to-storyline was a name and a costume.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Stop pretending that these stories move forward, we know the characters can’t age. We know Peter Parker will never be 40, and Batman will never be too old for jumping off rooftops. At some point the character’s continuity lifeline stops being a bonus that enriches stories and starts being an embarassment.

Then maybe that’s where the comics should change. Follow the Gasoline Alley model. Let the characters age (albeit slower than their readers), grow, marry, pass on mantles for good, die, etc.

Granted, there’s certainly a lot of business reasons for Batman to always be Bruce Wayne, because the vast majority of the public who doesn’t follow his monthly adventures knows only that and I suspect more money is made from the general public (merchandising, movies, etc.) than from the actual sale of comics.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The moment continuity becomes an anchor tied around the character’s feet, it’s time to untie the knot and let go of continuity.

Or embrace it more fully and let real change occur.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on February 6th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Can I just interject for one moment to add that I HATE GODDAMN FUCKING PREQUELS.

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HonestObserver said on February 6th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

The quench for more sequels is something that predates comics by a longshot. The riots over Arthur Conan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes, anyone? Random classics that you might not have known had sequels: Robinson Crusoe, The Good Earth, Eoin Colfer’s continuation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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The problem with the Iron Man ideas is I just don’t buy Stark as what they’ve been pushing him as lately, the second smartest man in the MU(after Reed Richards) Much like Wolverine surviving being reduced to a skeleton it came out of nowhere and just doesn’t fit the character. Tony’s a good engineer and business man. That’s all.

And as for Batman and Robin, Tim Drake doesn’t work for me as the first Robin. Which means there at least has to be Dick Grayson first, which means reconciling characters.

and as for passing on mantles “I’m Batman because Batman trained me to be” has less impact than swearing to eradicate crime because he watched his parents be gunned down in an alley.

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@John Seavey Exactly. I posted comments to the same effect on the House to Astonish blog. I mean, I still am not going to read the prequels, but if the creators told it like that I’d at least respect them a bit more.

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Mark Temporis said on February 7th, 2012 at 1:24 am

Sean Martin: “A Name and a Costume” is exactly how the long-running Japanese sentai series work – in most, like the KAMEN RIDER series, the series don’t share anything except vaguely similar costumes!

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When in doubt, blame Dan DiDio. He has been responsible for some truly awful decisions over the past ten years. Which makes me wonder who he has incriminating photos of, since it would have been smart to fire or demote him at some point around 2005.

For years now, DiDio has been talking about how awesome it would be to do a Watchmen prequel. This is probably his baby and I’ll bet he regrets nothing other than not getting these comics out in time for the movie.

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My understanding is that DC’s reboot has actually been good for sales, so all the cries of “Creative bankruptcy!” then were drowned out by the CHING CHING CHING of the cash register.

Comics sales have also been a dying scene for years now, but the money made from comics isn’t half as important as the money that comes from toy sales, merchandising and films. So the comics keep coming out as a comparatively low-cost ideas factory.

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The thing is… they wouldn’t have needed a reboot if Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns hadn’t spent the last ten years trying to change everything in the DC Universe to suit their own personal preferences.

Sales were a lot better in 2002, before DiDio decided that he needed to start doing drastic stuff just because Young Justice and Titans weren’t selling as well as he thought they should have been.

Sure… Infinite Crisis and 52 made a bunch of money. But somewhere around DC’s third weekly series (the one hardly anybody bought), that would have been a good time for somebody to stop and say something like, “Wait a minute. We can’t keep doing things like killing off a bunch of characters just because DiDio and Grant Morrison had a fun pitch meeting. And have you noticed that most of this stuff we’ve been doing lately only gets us short-term gains? Get Levitz back in here and start coming up with a real long-term strategy.”

After years of lame stunts that would maybe boost sales for three or four months before driving away more readers and hurting the company in the long term, it’s hard for me to cut DC any slack just because people were interested in Morrison’s Superman reboot or somebody out there is still willing to spend money on comics about Red Lanterns.

… which in a roundabout way gets me back to Watchmen. Sure, curious people will buy at least some of these prequel comics. But DC just gave people another justifiable excuse to decide that they aren’t going to buy any more of their monthly titles. This will probably hurt them in the long term, just like practically everything else since Countdown.

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@Johnny…that rant on the sparkles blog is bunk.

It tries to conflate the two entirely separate issues of the Watchmen stuff.

One issue is should the rights revert to Moore AND Gibbons (funny how the pro-Moore people seem to forget and/or diminish Gibbons role in things)and if the deal was fair.

Two is whether Moore is a hypocrite for complaining about people telling stories with the Watchmen characters given it’s Charlton origin, and his own works like LGX and Lost Girls.

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No, it’s not.

It doesn’t ‘attempt’ to conflate them, it points out the two issues are fundamentally linked.
Its Charlton origin doesn’t in the slightest infringe on his right to be upset about being screwed over, fundamentally, and exploited. Which he has been.

More to the point, I have not seen Moore actually complain about it. Express disappointment and displeasure when he was asked what he thinks about it, sure. But he’s been utterly disinterested in everything for years.

It reminds me a lot of Gregor Perelman, actually…

There’s certainly several problems with Moore, but he’s absolutely in the right here.

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but nobody’s out there demanding we see a ‘Silent Running 2′

Hmmm. The last dome finally reaches the Kuiper Belt, with its cache of carbon, water, and other trace elements, and Dewey’s work can truly begin. Slowly but inexorably, the Drone Army grows in the darkness at the edge of the solar system. Meanwhile, on putrid industrial Earth, a brilliant but eccentric physician takes practically forever to figure out than humans need to eat.

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Candlejack said on February 14th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

You can tell the two issues aren’t fundamentally linked, Jonny, by the fact that you can believe (as I do) both that Moore and Gibbons were screwed over and Before Watchman is a thing that doesn’t need to exist and that Moore sounds like a bit of a hypocrit when he wants his characters left alone.

As Moore said, Moby Dick didn’t need a sequel–but that didn’t stop him from using Ishmael in LoEG. He’s undoubtedly aware that JK Rowling doesn’t want anybody else playing in her copyrighted sandbox, as that’s why Voldemort’s name can’t be used in LoEG–but, again, Voldemort is used.

That he’s using the characters in a transformative way, instead of claiming to add dimension to the original works they came from, is why he’s only a bit of a hypocrit. But even if he was a full-on hypocrit, doing nothing but writing prequels and sequels to other people’s works, that still wouldn’t invalidate the fact he was fucked over in regards to Watchmen.

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Candlejack,

Firstly, the word is “hypocrite”. Secondly, to what extent is he using Voldemort? Is he using Voldemort more or less than Mike Carey is in The Unwritten?

The difference in The Unwritten, and I think Moore would argue LoEG (with regards to non-Voldemort characters) and Lost Girls is that it’s important that we get the references to the specific characters, because they are iconic images of popular culture and literary fiction.

Carey is talking about how we relate to characters in massively popular fiction, in a nearly semiotic analysis, in the form of an adventure story. That we’re looking at how these characters make us feel as audiences requires these characters to be used, as the existing baggage of how we feel towards them is essentially what the story’s about.

I can’t claim to know what Moore is trying to do with LoEG, but the point remains that it’s a very different thing.

And I don’t really buy that Voldemort is used. Partially because I read the book without realising that, but mostly because there’s a difference in using Voldemort and notVoldermort. Many characters began as knock-offs, and have become significantly different (the cast of Watchmen, Deadpool, TMNT come to mind). I do think this is significan enough a difference, to be honest…

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This is just a sad thing to see from DC. They have a cache of intellectual properties to pull from and they’re too goddamn lazy/cheap to develop them. Flash, Wonder Woman, etc sit idle as they focus on “safe” endeavors.

There’s a reason why Marvel was able to get an Avengers movie out while DC milks Batman and a sickly Superman franchise.

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Candlejack said on February 14th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

His notVoldemort is as close to Voldemort as his notJames Bond is to James Bond. Which, in turn, is every bit as close as any of his main characters are to their original representations. Like I said, transformative, rather than imitative. But close enough that I got that it was Voldemort, even though my only direct experience with Harry Potter is three and a half movies.

We can both agree that I need to use spell-check, though, so there’s that!

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highlyverbal said on February 14th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

@ Sean D. Martin: “I’m not sure what Moore’s saying, since the only quotes I’ve been able to find on his reaction to the project boil down to:” …

Moore has recently (2/14/12) given an interview, after DC announced the project. I am not sure if it covers all the nuances on this thread, but maybe worth a look.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=36996

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highlyverbal said on February 14th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

On the “transformative” debate (Sean D. Martin, Candlejack, et al):

Please understand that the fair use exception to copyright has been heavily litigated and the details are pretty well known. The assertions of laypersons, thus, become a bit suspect. The specific legal language often used is whether the work attempts to “supercede the use of the original work”. Which is bad, you can’t just supercede, you have to add creativity. Not the best word to hinge the entire copyright edifice upon, but it was 1841 so what can you do?

Moore’s characters are clearly transformative in that they pass the specific legal test — his narrative is clearly a commentary on the previous narrative and is not reducible to a mere attempt to supersede the prior work.

DC, on the other hand, is clearly trying to preserve continuity with Moore’s universe… meaning they are likely to fail the test and be merely superseding his work. (They may, however, hold the copyright due to contractual matters. I would be shocked if they didn’t.) But they are definitely not pulling on Moore what he pulled on the previous link in the creative chain.

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They quoted DiDio in that Alan Moore article as saying that they sought out the “very best writers and artists.” Which makes me want to say something like, “And then when the good writers turned them down, they gave half the work to the Babylon 5 guy because Geoff Johns was too busy.”

One thing that should be clear, if it hasn’t been after years of giving high profile gigs to duds like J.T. Krul and Judd “hasn’t done anything good since Exiles” Winick is that DiDio wouldn’t know good writing if it came up to him and ripped his arm off while referencing old Marv Wolfman comics.

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