Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Moore Serious?

Commitment is something I like to see in a comic book fan...actually, that's what the publisher would like to see. And the shops. 

If you have $120.00 saved for this summer, then that means you're planning to buy all 35 issues of Before Watchmen. Does it really matter that Moore had nothing to do with this one? We're all used to reading comics featuring characters written and drawn by writers and artists who are not the original creators. The same goes for cartoons, too. It's argued that Tex Avery and Bob McKimson created Bugs Bunny (the definitive version of the cartoon rabbit that had been floating in Warner Brothers cartoons under the same name) and they've been dead for decades. Should we have stopped reading Batman comics after Bill Finger got fired? Should we have quit reading Spawn when Todd MacFarlane stopped writing and drawing every issue? If we did take that hard line,we'd only accomplish saving money to buy other stuff. Why be Moore serious?

We have a way out - we don't need to feel like we're getting caught, we don't need to wear that long overcoat with the collar turned-up. When the sales numbers come in - actually, they're already in - they'll just show copies ordered by the stores. We're not in the middle, the shops are! We're just reading what we like! If we don't like Watchmen, we wouldn't be reading it, would we? We wouldn't pick Before Watchmen up thinking it will turn gold, now, right? Besides, this is no different from when soap operas would dust off old characters. When All My Children brought Angie and Jessie back from limbo in 2008, nobody complained much, even though it's audience had to be aware that this was an obvious sign none of the characters created in the two decades since those two left were clicking. Did it work? All My Children has been cancelled and has stayed that way since last year.

It won't work. Not because Alan Moore has gone on the record in interviews saying that this is a sign of total creative bankruptcy, or that the "talent" involved is not talented, otherwise they could have done something original and not a prequel to someone Else's story. Watchmen is all about telling a story. I did not get a hankering for a sequel about the Minutemen, because Alan had deconstructed them too well to offer anything more. Ditto the rest of the characters - what's Nite-Owl like in his prime? Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)? Daredevil? Batman? Is Dr. Manhattan more interesting than the Silver Surfer or Captain Atom? How about Rorschach and The Question? Or Silk Spectre and Nightshade or Black Canary or Huntress or The Wasp? It might be interesting to see what an Ozymandias comic would be like, but we've already seen what Alan Moore could do with him... This comic was all about a particular story and it accomplished more than it was meant to already. And I didn't care to read it a second time.

But that's not why it won't be a hit. Look at the teams involved. Two of the books involve artists not known for being fast. Two of the books are written by an egomaniac/windbag. Two of the books are written by someone who is better at one job than another. Two of the books are written by a journeyman. It's a very motley crew. If anyone's saving money on this, it's because only the first issues will have arrived on time.
We're in the middle, aren't we? No, I'd argue we're in the space between the middle. We're interdimensional. The whole thing could be a hit or a bomb and because these are planned well in advance, there's another event planned in the horizon that will get our attention. How did we get here? The past is a different country, they did things differently there... And when mistakes are made, they're in the past. The present is always a new country. And I don't miss All My Children or One Life To Live. Will we miss superhero comics?

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