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DC Comics has announced Before Watchmen, seven comic book mini-series that will chronicle earlier adventures of the characters from Watchmen, the seminal 12-issue series written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons. The comics will begin to come out this summer in specialty stores.
Considered by many to be the greatest comic book series ever written, DC's Watchmen debuted in 1986 to critical and commercial acclaim. It helped propel comics into a greater mainstream awareness and solidify that they could attain the same "serious" status as novels. Hollywood tried for nearly 20 years to make a movie out of Watchmen before 300 director Zack Snyder came along and made his Watchmen movie in 2009.
25 years after its debut, DC Comics feels that now is the time to return to the characters that Moore and Gibbons visualized and tell new tales of their days as complex crimefighters. "It's our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant," said DC Entertainment co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. "After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original."
But Alan Moore isn't happy about the Before Watchmen announcement. Speaking with The New York Times, the English-born writer said, "I don’t want money. What I want is for this not to happen."
Calling the Before Watchmen books as "completely shameless," Moore also remarked, "I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago."
Countering Moore's negative view of the project was Watchmen co-creator/illustrator Dave Gibbons. "The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell," the artist said. "However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire."
Along with the seven Before Watchmen titles there will be a 2-page story written by original Watchmen editor Len Wein and illustrated by John Higgens, the colorist on Watchmen, that will appear in anthology style chunks in every book. Entitled "Curse of the Crimson Corsair", the pirate tale is meant to be similar to the "Tales of the Black Freighter" pirate comic book story told throughout Watchmen's 12-issue arc.
The seven Before Watchmen books and their creative teams are:
Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner