DC announces Watchmen prequel books

Watchmen is widely recognized as one of the greatest – and best-selling – graphic novels in history.

The themes of friendship, triumph, violence, and power are depicted in a dystopian alternate world of the 80’s. When a member of a defunct team of heroes is murdered, the tragic event brings the rest of the group together to relive old times.

The recent film, despite its major change to the story’s conclusion, helped to reawaken interest in the novel, and spur plans for a new use of the property.

Today, DC has confirmed plans for a series of books that will serve as a prequel to the classic story.

The series, titled Before Watchmen, will consist of 35 issues – nearly three times as many issues as the original novel – across 7 books.

6 of the books will follow individual heroes from the character driven story-world, while one is slated to cover the team as a whole. The line is expected to end with a single final issue which terminates all seven books in single-issue denouement.

There will be one issue released each week, with two-pages of a back-up dubbed Curse of the Crimson Corsair, paralleling the pirate story which backed-up the original Watchmen book.

The book list is thus:

  • 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

The teams working on these books are a veritable who’s who of the comic book world, including John Higgins, from the art team of the original book, who will be producing the art for the final book, Before Watchmen: Epilogue.

These writers and artists have a grand challenge ahead of them. They will need to match a work, which while not perfect, has since been burned into the conciseness of every comic book fan. I can’t think of a more brave thing than to face the potential ire of comic book fanboys who think that you’ve sullied their most coveted book.

Personally, I’m looking forward to this series of books, as the Watchmen world is one of the most fascinating and compelling in all of comics, and to learn more about it will be fun, if nothing else.

“The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell,” explained Dave Gibbons, Watchmenco-creator and original series artist. “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.”

The first issue of Before Watchmen remains on track to hit comic store shelves this summer.