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With rumors of a possible Watchmen project for months prior, DC Comics officially announced the Before Watchmen project in February 2012. Bringing in some of the biggest names in the comic industry to work on the series, the project would consist of seven 4 to 6 issue mini series, each starring a specfic character(s) from the original Watchmen series, taking place prior to the original. Along with the seven mini series, a two page back up story called "Curse of the Crimson Corsair" would run in each issue, and the project would conclude with a single epilogue one-shot.
After the initial announcement of the project, months later in late August at the Toronto Fan Expo, DC made two Before Watchmen related announcements. Starting in November, a two issue series starring Moloch written by Straczynski, with art by Eduardo Risso. Finally, to replace the recently deceased Joe Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz would ink Before Watchmen: Nite Owl. Then, in November 2012, a one shot starring the former Minutemen member Dollar Bill, was announced.
- Before Watchmen: Comedian, written by Brian Azzarello, illustrated by J.G. Jones
- Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan, written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Adam Hughes
- Before Watchmen: Minutemen, written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke
- Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz
- Before Watchmen: Ozymandias, written by Len Wein, illustrated by Jae Lee
- Before Watchmen: Rorschach, written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo
- Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, illustrated by Amanda Conner
- Before Watchmen: Moloch, written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Eduardo Risso
- Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill, written by Len Wein, illustrated by Steve Rude
- Before Watchmen: Epilogue (One Shot), written by various, illustrated by various
- Curse of the Crimson Corsair (back up story appearing in other titles), written by Len Wein, illustrated by John Higgins
Curse of the Crimson Corsair
With the release of Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1, writer Len Wein stepped down from writing duties of the Crimson Corsair back up to focus on his Ozymandias series. In his place, artist John Higgins began to write the back up strip, as well as illustrate it.
Before Watchmen was put into production without original writer Alan Moore's consent. Soon after the announcement, Moore would publicly denounce the series, as well as DC's business practices, citing contractual issues when he originally wrote the series. The controversy would make creator rights, and IP ownership somewhat of a hot topic in the industry for the period of time after the series was announced. In April 2012, iZombie writer Chris Roberson would leave DC due to similar creator rights issues, later supporting his reasons for leaving DC with the controversy surrounding Moore and Before Watchmen, as well as past creator issues including Jack Kirby.