It would be a mistake to say that Watchmen. the 12 issue maxiseries that everyone knows as a graphic novel (yep, it’s a trade) or the only time Zack Snyder got a superhero movie right. Mostly because I never read the book or saw the movie. There was a time where I would have found the idea fascinating and would want to read it, a world in which superheroes are secretly more like supervillains in a cynical deconstruction of what superheroes are and what superheroes would be like and how they would affect the history of the world.
The problem is that everybody wants to write Watchmen, to produce the next Watchmen and you can’t convince me that The Boys or The Ultimates weren’t part of that goal. Everyone wants to deconstruct superheroes but nobody wants to reconstruct them, or at least not in the right way. In the following video Just Some Guy (so expect some cursing) goes over what made the comic work and the attempts to clone the concept by today’s writers don’t work at all and have led to the ruining of superhero comics.
Catch more Just Some Guy on his YouTube channel.
Since the video came out the X-Men have undergone a massive shift in a questionable attempt to represent as many marginalized people as possible (and sucking at it) by rebooting the X-corner of the Marvel universe thanks to I wish I cared enough to be confused why because I’m sure it doesn’t make a lick of sense, as time travel via reincarnation tends to do. So congratulations to making even less sense.
Two things of note: The revelation that Doctor Light raped Sue Dibney doesn’t even matter to the story. It’s a red herring purposefully put in as part of DiDio’s early attempts to darken the DC universe and finding the right writer to help him do it. This makes it bad storytelling as well as the beginning of the destruction of my favorite comic book universe. The other is an odd misstep from Just Some Guy about Civil War. The Superhero Registration Act wasn’t just the mutants (they were never able to get a full anti-mutant bill out for years because it would ruin their ability to have the X-Men and Avengers or Fantastic Four team-up…not that it matters now) but all superheroes, after the New Warriors went in over their heads and Nitro The Exploding Man blew up Stamford…despite having blown up many, many times over the years without city-wide destruction and Iron Man once beating Nitro by forcing him to explode until he passed out. In both cases these were forced events to create a darker story, pit superheroes against each other, and pull apart what superheroes are while not replacing them with anything…except arguably supervillains as anti-heroes.
I’ve heard that Moore himself is sorry that today’s comic writers have taken to replicate his story without really understanding what he was doing. They just want to be edgy and dark because Watchmen continues to be a hit and recognized as the only graphic novel to hit the New York Times best seller list and a literary classic. As usual from today’s storytellers they don’t understand why something works, nor do they care to put the effort into doing so. They take a surface-level view and just try to match that because actually understanding and telling stories is really really hard, people. What we get are pale imitations that have drained the “hero” from “superhero”, because being a superhero is more than just having powers. Supervillains have powers, too…and as we’ve seen with Wally West and Heroes In Crisis, the prominence of villain characters like Black Adam and even Lex Luthor to a pseudo-heroic status (Black Adam is practically a poor man’s Doctor Doom nowadays) that’s what today’s writers want to write. They’ve given up on superheroes and now we don’t get them anymore. It’s too bad the people in charge of telling us tales of the best of humanity are people who refuse to believe in it.