Although it wasn’t something I was interested in reading or watching, I can understand the excitement behind Watchmen. Sure the movie didn’t even pull off Hancock‘s numbers (I bring thee proof), but the point behind the comic is something that when it came out was different. Sadly, it has since become the norm.
I’m not sure, however, that I agree with John Byrne about what Alan Moore was going for. From his forum:
I was watching a few minutes of the WATCHMEN movie on cable last night, and I found myself musing on the notion of a “prequel” or sequel to the original comicbook series.
In WATCHMEN, Moore inverted — I might say perverted — pretty much everything the superhero genre is all about. He was not the first to do so, but WATCHMEN was the first time we got it all in such a concentrated dose. Largely, this seems to have happened because Moore is very much a one trick pony. The one trick works for him and his fans, so no problem there, I guess. But this got me to thinking about who would be a suitable candidate to produce another round of WATCHMEN.
I’ll get into that headdesk moment soon enough. Let’s focus on the comment about “Moore…perverted–pretty much everything the superhero genre is all about”. Remember, this is the guy who turned Lex Luthor from criminal supergenius to evil businessman. This is the guy who turned Krypton into a society that didn’t know physical love because it wasn’t science-y enough. (Even Dr. Insano would call this overboard, and he’s nuttier than a peanut farm.) This is also the guy who wrote Spider-Man: Chapter One, a story that was supposed to be a retelling of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus’s origins, but ended up being more of a re-imagining (not to mention ticking off the Spider-Fans).
Beyond that, Moore didn’t plan for Watchmen to pervert anything. That’s the fault of the Marvel and DC writers who saw that the series was so highly praised that the collected GN was on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, a rarity for graphic novels, original or collected. According to interviews in this Wikipedia entry, it was a social commentary against Reganism as he saw it. (I don’t think he understood what Reagan was trying to do, but that’s for another time.) He hadn’t planned to change the landscape of superhero comics, and in fact he’s expressed some regret about it.
O: Is it true that you regret the effect that Watchmen had on the comics industry?
AM: To a degree. Perhaps it happens in any medium, where anything of any kind of great proportion will have an adverse effect upon the medium itself. I think that what a lot of people saw when they read Watchmen was a high degree of violence, a bleaker and more pessimistic political perspective, perhaps a bit more sex, more swearing. And to some degree there has been, in the 15 years since Watchmen, an awful lot of the comics field devoted to these grim, pessimistic, nasty, violent stories which kind of use Watchmen to validate what are, in effect, often just some very nasty stories that don’t have a lot to recommend them. And some of them are very pretentious, where they’ll try and grab some sort of intellectual gloss for what they’re doing by referring to a few song titles or the odd book. They’ll name-drop William Burroughs here or there. Just like Mad comics, which was a unique standalone thing, it’s almost become a genre. The gritty, deconstructivist postmodern superhero comic, as exemplified by Watchmen, also became a genre. It was never meant to. It was meant to be one work on its own. I’d have liked to have seen more people trying to do something that was as technically complex as Watchmen, or as ambitious, but which wasn’t strumming the same chords that Watchmen had strummed so repetitively. The apocalyptic bleakness of comics over the past 15 years sometimes seems odd to me, because it’s like that was a bad mood that I was in 15 years ago. It was the 1980s, we’d got this insane right-wing voter fear running the country, and I was in a bad mood, politically and socially and in most other ways. But it was a genuine bad mood, and it was mine. I’ve seen a lot of things over the past 15 years that have been a bizarre echo of somebody else’s bad mood. It’s not even their bad mood, it’s mine. So, for my part, I wouldn’t say that my new stuff is all bunny rabbits and blue-skies optimism, but it’s probably got a lot more of a positive spin on it than the work I was doing back in the ’80s. This is a different century.
He’s not sorry he made the comic. Just sorry that, as I’ve said, people got the wrong thing from it. He has since refused to take back the rights, mostly because DC’s stipulation is a sequel. This is not a series that needs a sequel or a prequel. Watchmen told it’s story. I don’t think there is a need to go back to it. Ever since the movie came out and Rick Johnson put out a rumor (which the media screwed-up, I may add), talk pops up now and then about what a sequel would look like. So what does Byrne think it SHOULD look like?
The thought began to take shape in my head that any revisiting of those characters should be a continuation of the “tradition” of WATCHMEN. That is, as Moore trashed everything superheroes were all about, the next go-round should do the same with WATCHMEN itself. So the ideal candidate for doing the project should be someone who is equally a one trick pony, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. Immediately, one name sprang to the forefront: Rob Liefeld.
No, I’m not kidding. Liefeld would be to WATCHMEN what Moore was to superheroes in general. And it would be such fun to watch a whole flock of retailer’s heads exploding, as they tried to serve two entirely different faces of mammon!
If he is indeed not joking, then he is obviously trying to insult Moore.
That’s how Liefeld would draw Silk Spectre. Also, I’m not the only one who keeps spelling his last name wrong would be less than impressed with Liefeld’s ideas when it comes to the approach. I can just imagine what the diehard fans would think about Liefeld “deconstructing the Watchmen” and Byrne wants.
Now, I would love to see the “heroes” get what’s coming to them for the stuff they pulled, but that isn’t the story Moore wanted to tell, and any sequel or prequel would end up being an insult to the work.
Although I’m still guessing that’s what Byrne has in mind.