To say that DC's upcoming Before Watchmen
titles are controversial is underselling things quite a bit. The decision to expand on the groundbreaking 1986 series has been heavily criticized
co-creator Alan Moore, blasted by critics
, and cost DC the services
of at least one creator
. On the other hand, they were able to convince a
totally obvious plant
"mild skeptic" that the books were going to have some pretty good art
, so that's something.
Either way, they're hoping on a big success from Before Watchmen
, but it raises the question of where to go next. How do you follow up a 34-issue prequel to one of the most popular stories of all time? Well, as it turns out, there are actually other stories by Alan Moore that haven't been strip-mined for sequels yet! So today, I've got my suggestions for The Other Alan Moore Comics DC can Capitalize On
!#1: V2: reVisited
A sequel to Moore and David Lloyd's V For Vendetta
, in which a masked protagonist terrorizes the fascist government of a futuristic Great Britain, is such an obvious choice that I'm seriously amazed that DC hasn't already announced it as the next Judd Winick / Philip Tan project. Not only did the series find a new resonance outside of comics when V's mask became a widespread symbol for the Internet-based protest group Anonymous, but seriously, have you read this thing? Spoiler Alert, but the dude's sexy girl sidekick becomes the new V after the original dies!
With DC taking criticism for their lack of strong female characters, a story that returns to that dystopian world shown through the eyes of Evey Hammond as she explores her new role as Britain's protector of freedom and justice could be just what they're looking for. And as an added bonus, giving her costume a low-cut, cleavage-revealing costume would actually be kind of appropriate. I mean, how could she not
wear a V-neck?
#2: Whatever Happened to the Man of the Day After Tomorrow?
Back before relations soured to the point they're at now, when it's becoming increasingly likely that actual devastating wizard spells will be exchanged across the Atlantic, DC entrusted Moore with writing the final Silver Age Superman story. The result was an "Imaginary Story" of Superman's final days, illustrated by the classic Superman team of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson and still widely regarded as one of the best Superman stories ever written. And it is ripe for a sequel!
Admittedly, Moore's story saw most of the cast killed off and Superman himself permanently giving up his powers in favor of a quiet life alongside Lois Lane as a normal human mechanic, but c'mon
. There's a way around everything, and going back to the well only makes that story better, right? Right?
Besides, Moore showed that despite his father's exposure to Gold Kryptonite, Superman's son still had powers, and if comic books have taught us anything, it's that if any question that can be answered by going back and revisiting a great comic, it should
be! How does a de-powered Superman deal with raising a son with powers? Will he be the strong role model that his own parents were, or will he succumb to that most human of emotions: jealousy! These are the questions to which the people are demanding answers! Well, some people are, right? I mean, statistically, they'd have to be.
#3. "BeFor The Man Who Has Everything"
#11's "For The Man Who Has Everything" has to be a pretty tempting prospect for revisiting. After all, it's not just another classic Superman tale, it's also by Moore and Dave Gibbons, the creators of Watchmen
. Admittedly, "Based On A Story By The Creators Of Watchmen
" might be a little unwieldy as far as cover blurbs go, but let's be real here: This is a company that is releasing an entire series of comic books that take place before Watchmen
under the name "Before Watchmen
." They are willing to go the extra mile to make sure you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you are dealing with.
Anyway, the problem here is that we already have several decades of comic books showing us what happened before and after the events of this story. The plant that Mongul uses to enslave Superman, the Black Mercy, has even shown up a couple of times in various stories over the years. But there's one aspect that's never been revealed, just sitting right there waiting for someone to spend six issues on it: How did Mongul get the Black Mercy?
Did he buy it on the Intergalactic Black Market? Or -- and buckle the hell up, fans -- did he grow it himself?!
That's super-villain gardening, y'all, one of the last true untapped sources for comic book storytelling. It's the modern twist this story needs to be relevant in 2012!
#4. Top 102
is hands down one of my favorite Alan Moore comics, but seriously, how are we supposed to know what the hell's going on without reading Top 1
through Top 9
What? Oh, they did this one
? Huh. Well, best to just move on, then.
#5. The Killing Setup
Much like "For the Man Who Has Everything," The Killing Joke
is one of the cornerstones of DC's critical success in the '80s. And it also presents a similar problem of being pretty thoroughly explored through, oh, about twenty-three years of stories about how these particular events affected Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and pretty much everyone else involved except those two freaky little twins who drag the Commissioner into the funhouse.
While the creepy twins definitely represent a blind spot that could be mined, I think the best strategy would be to take this in the other direction with a prequel! It's pretty tough, considering how much of the story is itself a flashback to the events that led to the creation of the Joker. But again, one thing is left largely to the imaginations of the reader, something we definitely don't want: the Joker's stand-up comedy routine!
We're only told about it briefly, and after all, the number one rule of storytelling is show, don't tell, so let's get in there and show that jam in a 48-page graphic novel spectacular! Was the Joker more into anecdotes, or just rapid-fire punchlines? Or, and I'm just putting this out there, did he maybe do an act involving some racial caricature puppets?
Personally, now that we're free of the limitations of the comics code, I'd just go ahead and do a full-on comics adaptation of the Aristocrats
#6. Before The League
At first glance, this one may seem a little tougher to pull off than the others. After all, when things finally hit the breaking point with DC, Moore and Kevin O'Neill took their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
series to Top Shelf to put out the third volume. But here's the thing: All of these characters they're using in those first few volumes? They are in the Public Domain
, son! And that means that doing a prequel series about this comic is like the easiest thing in the world!
Seriously, literally anyone
can do a comic about Dracula, and DC has enough comics with the word "League" on the cover that they can probably slip "Before the League
" onto the prequels without anyone being able to stop them, no matter how hard they may try. And the best part is that the prequel stories are already written, so when J. Michael Straczynski leaves after three issues to go work on something else, you can pretty much just keep going like nothing happened. Everybody wins!