Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Thoughts On Watchmen 2!

Some Thoughts On Watchmen 2, And Other Irrelevancies I Probably Shouldn't Encourage With Further Analysis

Rich Johnston is really going pedal to the floor with the Watchmen 2 bit over on Bleeding Cool, which I have no issues with.  He's there to chase hits, he's not hurting anybody, and the damn story may end up being accurate on top of it.

My issue, if I have one, is that the whingers are going to come out in full force and be wrong about everything again.  And DC, being the new DC that pays attention to its constituents and sometimes makes decisions based upon their moronic peasant thinking, particularly if they look good in a Batgirl suit and publicly embarrass them, might actually enact changes based upon said whinging.

The principal objection will be that The Watchmen is far too pure and holy to be debauched by mortal sinners with supplemental material.

This is, of course, absolute rubbish.

Don't get me wrong, I adore The Watchmen, warts and all.  "Fearful Symmetry", in my opinion, is a tour de force in narration and structure that no comic book has surpassed before or since.  Yes, we have the Watchmen to thank for comics now able to concern themselves with whether or not a character's cock works.  Let no man claim that I don't give the work its due, and in fact, Quincy and I produced a low rent cable access program extolling the virtues of Watchmen when the movie came out.  I respect it, kay?  OK.

Let's be clear about this - there is no work so pure and holy that it can't be added to.  If that sort of thinking were valid, why did DC not put a cork in Batman after the Dark Knight Returns?  Equally lauded, and holding up as equally canonical.  You don't stop making Fantastic Four because they made "This Man, This Monster."  Thank all that is sublime they didn't!  A signature work or an inspired effort does not mandate retiring the concept.  Do you quit telling X-Men stories after Days of Future Past?  That's just silly.  You'd never know it to listen to the rank and file bitch about it, though.

If you think about it, there should be far more rancor over producing more Batman work post DKR than producing Watchmen work post-Alan Moore.  Break it down to its basic ingredients, and Watchmen is just a bunch of patently obvious analogs of throw-away-two-bit Charlton characters trapped in a story largely ripped from an episode of Outer Limits.  That's the pristine virgin we can't sully with prequels by Darwyn Cooke?  Save me the robe tearing, oh ye Pharisees.

The truth of the matter is that this is a corporate entity with a commercial product, and the only real question is why it hasn't been exploited prior to this.  Or rather, that's the obvious and wrong-headed question.

The real question is:  Why can't we seem to break out of this unhealthy and overblown infatuation with nostalgia?

My problem with Watchmen 2 isn't the idea the idea that DC would dare to "piss" on the Moore legacy.  Urinate away!  My problem is that they can't think of anything new to do.  We've 52 "new" books out now, and not one of them with a fresh character or concept.  It's all twists on crap we've seen before.  And yes, some of the twists are entertaining.  Fine.  Where's the new?

Part of the responsibility rests with us, the knobs.  We tend not to buy things we haven't seen a billion times before.  I think the larger share of responsibility rests with cowardly and greedy publishers, who are loathe to take a risk, and even more loathe to cough up a couple of extra pennies paying royalties on new creations.  Give Mark Millar a few points on his intellectual properties and see what he can do for you, will ya?  But no, Disney/Marvel and Warner/DC want it all.  So if you're a comic book writer or artist, what is your incentive to create the Next Big Thing?  You have none.

Or at least, you have none at Marvel or DC.  This is why you see a lot of juice and energy heading over to Image.  This is why you have Morning Glories, Last of the Greats, Echoes, Green Wake, Chew, Butcher Baker, Non Player (sort of), Who Killed Jake Ellis?, Skullkickers, and Witch Doctor turning heads over at Image. Did I miss any?  I bet missed more than a half dozen.

There is still inspiration over at the Big 2.  Hickman's Fantastic Four and Simone's Secret Six are achievements in storytelling.  But there is a disproportionate amount of creativity in the Image books, and I don't think you need an engineering degree to figure this shit out.  They have a financial incentive to innovate, and the creative freedom to make it happen.  Boom!  Magic.  I'm not suggesting that DC shelve whatever its doing in those "Panic Room" meetings and go with an Image style incentive program.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing?

But why is it unthinkable to allow a creative team to share 10% of profits on new properties, at least for purposes of licensing and multi-platform options?  I don't have a problem with comics companies going back to the well periodically to dust off an old favorite, but there is such a thing as the law of diminishing returns, and I'd say the sales data has been reflecting said law quite clearly.

If you want to go back to 1986, there is a diamond in that rough.  And it isn't Watchmen.  It's this:

Yeah, that piece of crap!  No, the answer isn't to relaunch Spitfire.  Leave all that shit alone.  Learn from the mistakes of The New Universe - it was underfunded, undertalented, and rushed.  Summon the testicles to keep the core tenet - let's try something we haven't seen yet.  Because we're so creatively inbred right now we're starting to produce little other than Wrong Turn babies.  I will not be purchasing or picketing Watchmen 2.  I'm just waiting for something that isn't steeped in the past. 

- Ryan


Aleksandre said...

I will not be buying watchmen in single issues when and if it comes out But if it gets good reviews I of course will be picking up the trade and why not its all about the quality of the comic not anything else

Detroit Dave said...

I tend to agree with most of what you said here. I don't like that DC is making more Watchmen material (especially without they Glycon empowered Alan Moore), but it was inevitable. Sure, the argument of the absurdity of stopping after the "Best" of a comic has occurred (i.e. Claremont's X-men) is valid, but certain books, to me, are a snapshot in time culminating from a true achievement of greatness. Which, for me, Watchmen is (warts and all, as you say). However, just b/c I don't like it (it just "feels" wrong, if that makes any sense), it's totally understandable that DC wants to, you know, make money. And really, nothing's going to force me to buy Watchmen point 1 or whatever (and I won't be buying them), so my Watchmen will always be MY Watchmen. And that's good enough for me.

Chronic Insomnia said...

I think these are all measured, healthy responses. Miracle Keith wrote me an email about this piece too, and while we don't agree 100%, I think we're all basically in this boat -

"It's a stupid, douchy thing to do, but probably not worth the rancor it's going to receive."

I guess the issue now is - are we just behaving like adults, or are we slipping into apathy? Because apathy is a bitch to get out of, once you're in. That's like, a Lindsey Lohan dangerous kind of hole to be in.