Why MINUTEMEN Could Potentially Be The Most Important Of All The BEFORE WATCHMEN Books

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Posted by No_Name_ (16193 posts) - - Show Bio

Of all of the BEFORE WATCHMEN prequel books, perhaps the one I am most looking forward to is the one that is scheduled to be released first: MINUTEMEN, which will be written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. Aside from the fact that Cooke happens to be one of my all-time favorite creators, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to this story. Before you start to disagree with me (and I know many of you will), think back to the story of the WATCHMEN. Think back to the underlying themes and the overall premise: think back to the foundation of the epic tale of the demise of heroes. WATCHMEN tells the story of the end -- the story of how things finally fall apart and the adventures of the last great vigilante heroes. What it doesn't really tell us is the story of the beginning. How did these heroes come to be? What are their individual stories? Who were they and how did they come together?

In the first issue of the WATCHMEN you might recall some of the characters alluding to the tell-all book written by Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl and one of the original members of the Minutemen. The fictional book titled 'Under The Hood' revealed the origins of the Minutemen characters and also acted as Hollis' autobiography. When the WATCHMEN was first published, writer Alan Moore inserted excerpts from Hollis' fictional account as a back-up feature in the first three issues of THE WATCHMEN issues. Although it revealed details of his origin story and how he came to be a costumed vigilante, as well as the origin stories of some of his MINUTEMEN companions; it was all done through Nite Owl's perspective.

== TEASER ==

As a result, readers have never read much about the original Minutemen and how they came to be from any perspective other than Hollis', and Moore didn't spend a whole lot of time on the series delving into the characters in general. In part IV. of Moore's 'Under The Hood' which was first published as a back up in the second issue of WATCHMEN, Moore glazed over the founding of the Minutemen, how they came together and what eventually led to their demise. He made sure not to spend a lot of time delving into the personalities of the respective characters that first joined the team. Perhaps it was because Moore didn't feel it was relevant information to his story. Since THE WATCHMEN is more about the destruction of vigilantism and the fall of the superhero than it is about the glory days of their founding. Yet, the story of the Minutemen was supposed to have been told -- at least initially, according to both Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, anyway.

Based on a source, according to an interview with Moore from the March, 1985 issue of The Comics Journal, depending on whether the sales of the series were good, he and Gibbons had considered writing a prequel featuring the Minutemen characters.

Moore stated in 1985 that if the limited series was well-received, he and Gibbons would possibly create a 12-issue prequel series called Minutemen featuring the 1940s superhero group from the story.

The thing that makes the Minutemen different from the Watchmen characters is that Moore had considered writing a prequel to the series centered around the Minutemen characters. He had, at one point, planned on expanding that universe by telling their story -- and now that's going to be a reality (even if it is a story being told without Moore's input). Either way, it's expanding the original story. It's giving a series that is about the end of something, a beginning.

The story of the Minutemen is just as important as that of the Watchmen because the Watchmen story alludes so heavily to the original members. THE WATCHMEN very briefly introduces readers to the original Minutemen heroes the Hooded Justice, the original Nite Owl, Comedian, The Silhouette, Captain Metropolis, Mothman and Dollar Bill. At the epicenter of the Watchmen story is the Comedian; a member of the original Minutemen who then later joined the ranks of the Watchmen.

He is, essentially the connection between the Minutemen and the Watchmen. He's there in the beginning, and his death marks the beginning of the end. This is part of the reason why telling the story of the beginning of this universe and how it all came to be has the potential of completing what was intended to be such a finite story. Giving these characters a start and fleshing out their personalities and characters is important; more important, in my opinion, than telling the Comedian or Silk Spectre's respective stories -- not that those stories won't be good or interesting.

The BEFORE WATCHMEN books are controversial, and with the first issue of this series out in stores tomorrow it's time to ask yourselves: are these stories you want to invest in? Is it possible that the array of amazing creators (Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes and many more) will add something to this story; or not? For me, giving the WATCHMEN a beginning has the potential to make the volume feel more whole. It's not necessary, but maybe it will be a great addition to the classic series. What about you? Do you expect that these books will add more than they will take away from the story? Which are you looking forward to?

#1 Posted by revbucky (321 posts) - - Show Bio

This makes good sense. Now, I'm definitely going to read it.

#2 Posted by haydenclaireheroes (10754 posts) - - Show Bio

I am being hearing a lot of good things about Minutemen and the series hasn't even come out yet

#3 Posted by Mercy_ (93944 posts) - - Show Bio

I am not the world's largest Darwyn Cooke art fan (don't dislike it, just not my cup of tea), but oh my gosh, how perfectly suited is it to this?

#4 Posted by TheAnnihilator (1048 posts) - - Show Bio

I just don't think anyone should read any of them.

#5 Posted by Bobzenub (125 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator: Fortunately we can think for ourselves.

#6 Posted by Suprman (458 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the biggest fan of Darwyn Cooke, but I'm looking forward to this series mostly because Cooke is very good at writing and drawing period pieces and that's exactly what this series looks like it's going to be about.

#7 Posted by the_fallen11 (642 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm going to read all of them...b/c I like these characters myself (like others) have made connections with these characters..I don't understand why a Watchmen prequel is such taboo among comic readers..is Watchmen a perfect story? Yes. Does it need a prequel? Probably not..but you can tell that DC didn't just throw this together..they care and respect the source material some of the best names in the industry are on these books..these will be great.

#8 Edited by DDangelico (234 posts) - - Show Bio

Of all of the prequels this is the one I am the most excited about as well, for all of the reasons you listed. This story, if done right should link perfectly into the overall story and tell an untold chapter of Watchmen. Darwyn Cooke's (one of my all-time favorite creators) is perfect for this, and I for one can't wait for tomorrow!

The way I look at it, if the stories feel as though they could "take away" from Moore's masterpiece, I'll just recognize them as fan-fiction from really talented artists and writers. If they add, well then that's awesome!

#9 Posted by TheAnnihilator (1048 posts) - - Show Bio

@Bobzenub said:

@TheAnnihilator: Fortunately we can think for ourselves.

Fortunately we can all be aholes about it too.

I wouldn't read a prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire by R.L. Stine. These aren't the characters. Only Alan Moore can write these characters and Watchmen doesn't need a "before." If anything, this takes away from the brilliance.

#10 Posted by JonesDeini (3863 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator: No sense in trying to convince anybody to either read/not read them. I won't be reading it because Moore/Gibbons gave me their story and for all intents and purposes it was/is perfect as is. I won't begrudge others for enjoying it though. As far as I'm concerned these books don't exist and when I'm still talking about Watchmen's brilliance decades from now, these won't even be a part of the conversation.

#11 Posted by TheAnnihilator (1048 posts) - - Show Bio

@JonesDeini: Agreed. I've been ignoring these books pretty well as well. They won't really mean much, it's just DC Comics trying to cash in on Alan Moore's work without involving or paying him once more. I'm not a Moore fanboy or anything, I just respect that this is his work.

#12 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2643 posts) - - Show Bio

What is the tone of the Before Watchmen comics? I assume its the same as the Watchmen comic, or close to it right? Dark and depressing? Is it very mature like Watchmen, not suitable for children? I love Cooke's art so very much so I am looking to maybe get this.

#13 Posted by hunter5024 (130 posts) - - Show Bio

I wasn't one of the detractors, but I wasn't all that excited either because I felt like their story was gone into pretty thoroughly with the back ups. However after reading your article I really think you're right, what was shown was only from one characters perspective and it would be interesting to have it fleshed out. The old quote from Moore is what sold me, and I'm looking forward to reading this on my birthday tomorrow. =) Great article Sara!

#14 Posted by bladewolf (1153 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm going to give this series a chance, and probably at least borrow the other ones from friends. We'll never know if it's good unless we give it a try :)

#15 Posted by Rixec (457 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator said:

@JonesDeini: Agreed. I've been ignoring these books pretty well as well. They won't really mean much, it's just DC Comics trying to cash in on Alan Moore's work without involving or paying him once more. I'm not a Moore fanboy or anything, I just respect that this is his work.

Actually, I read that DC did call him first, saying he could have the rights back if he did a prequel. He refused, so DC decided on a different direction.

#16 Posted by SavageDragon (2257 posts) - - Show Bio

@the_fallen11: Ya know you have a good point. I think it boils down to this: Some people read a self contained story thats a CLASSIC like Watchmen and they feel a certain way about that story and all those characters. Love it or hate it you form oppinions maybe even connections with that Universe and its characters. Some people say Watchmen as a whole will always exist by itself and no prequel or sequel can change it. Where the controversy comes in is that now with the release of the Before Watchmen titles certain people feel like if they read them, the new titles will change their opinion on the characters and originality of the Watchmen Graphic Novel. So some people will choose to boycott the product or simply not read it based on that they feel it corrupts their perception of the Watchmen Universe and or takes away from their connections to the original story and the time they read it in. This is just my opinion.

The way I see it is read it if ya want, if ya dont pick up Fatale, X-force, Saga, Demon Knights, Amazing spiderman or any one of the tons of other great books out there.

#17 Posted by lifeboy (1717 posts) - - Show Bio
The minutemen remind me of the classice jsa and i loved them. It figures i would love this aswell, but i wont be getting it, because i already preordered rorshack, ozimandious, and dr manhatten:( i cant go over my comic budget.
#18 Posted by Mandrewgora (304 posts) - - Show Bio

well I was just going to get this for Darwyn Cooke's art, but it's sounding pretty cool.

#19 Posted by thelastword (9 posts) - - Show Bio

A well crafted argument that has caused me to rethink not picking this one up....Or is it thinking about re-picking this up?

#20 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6958 posts) - - Show Bio

You actually hit it right on the nail with what you said...this whole event isn't NECESSARY, but it could make a more fuller experience to what had begun with that 1986-7 12 issue maxiseries. I know I'll definitely be watching out for all info about this event and you are right, Minutemen does have the potential to be an essential part of the whole thing since it provides the sound framework for the creation of the first team.

#21 Posted by JonesDeini (3863 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rixec: Yeah, they've been trying to buy his complicity for years, but it's not about the money for Moore. This interview the last one he did addressing the whole sordid tale is very insightful and a great read no matter which side of the issue you stand on.

#22 Posted by TadThuggish (73 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator said:

I just don't think anyone should read any of them.

#23 Posted by Darkmount1 (1472 posts) - - Show Bio

I personally have never read Watchmen at all. I've seen the movie, and this year, ended up being given a copy by a friend who already had one. So, this year, I am going to read it all the way through, and put it down after that. Because I am banking on how even after finally reading it, I am still going to have the same feeling: I HATE THE STORY. I hate deconstructionism--I feel things should be built UP, not broken down. So in regards to this thing? I am just going to sit back, watch this whole thing unfold in the comic fan community, and see the response and consensus at the end of it all. I take Jay Sherman's (of The Critic) advice to heart: "If the movie/book/album stinks, just don't go/read/listen." If I had taken over DC a couple years back, my first act? Give the order that Watchmen finally be taken out of print, thereby fulfilling the original contract signed by Moore and Gibbons, and personally hand the rights back to both creators myself. And that includes ALL the rights--characters, merchandising, everything, the whole shebang. And what would I say to Moore when I do this? I would say "unlike the rest of the world, I personally have no desire to see this kind of schlock and grit grace the shelves any longer. You can have your gray-shaded 'heroes' back."

#24 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29887 posts) - - Show Bio

The most hilarious part of this is that there is no team called The Watchmen.

#25 Posted by BatBen9135 (65 posts) - - Show Bio

The reason this has the best shot to not suck is because it could actually tell stories in the universe without appearing redundant. Too bad we still know what happens to the team, but at least it would be fun to see them interact.

#26 Posted by sj_esposito (478 posts) - - Show Bio

I wish any conversation about Before Watchmen could remain just that and not devolve into an argument over whether or not it should be published and/or read... but it seems I'm pipe-dreaming.


This is a great article and an excellent point to raise! I think by touching on the beginning, Cooke will shed light on the original story and characters without having to delve too much into events that were already seen in-panel. This is an important thing for a prequel to do, and I'm a little worried for the other Before Watchmen book because some of them seem like they could be treading over old material--which I have no moral objection to, but I don't particularly want to spend money on a rehashing of the same events and story beats that I've read so many times in Watchmen. I think its worth noting that the Comedian series is probably going to follow a similar pattern or delivery, though from a very different perspective (Azzarello vs Cooke), and it's definitely something I want to read.

And, Sara, I totally agree: there's a lot of room in these prequels to expand the universe a little bit, which is really a gift that Moore and Gibbons left to all the creators now getting to work on Before Watchmen. They created such a 3-dimensional world the first time around, and made everything feel like the universe had a long and storied history, without actually exploring the events of the path in great depth. The reason I think these books will be sucessful (to the open-minded fan!) is that the creators have a world to play in where they kind of know the rules. There's already a structure to how the timeline plays out and what characters end up in what situations; they just have to fill in the details.

#27 Posted by ApatheticAvenger (1726 posts) - - Show Bio

@InnerVenom123 said:

The most hilarious part of this is that there is no team called The Watchmen.

I know, right?

#28 Posted by Rixec (457 posts) - - Show Bio

@JonesDeini said:

@Rixec: Yeah, they've been trying to buy his complicity for years, but it's not about the money for Moore. This interview the last one he did addressing the whole sordid tale is very insightful and a great read no matter which side of the issue you stand on.

Yes, it was quite a read. I wonder if he knows his name is in the credits under "Created by"? While I understand what he is saying I think he is overreacting on some parts. Even if DC is just trying to make money it doesn't mean the writers and artists aren't doing their best to flesh out the world he created and try to match up to it. He also seems sensitive on people who want to read it but I only want to read them because I loved the original Watchmen and the movie and think that these stories will be very good because that's why I buy books, comics, games, etc. Alan was upset that he never got the rights back because it never went out of print, but that just shows how great a storyteller he is. I kinda want that kind of success when my writing takes off. Plus, it seems like no one is taking Gibbons's view on this matter when he helped to bring Watchmen to life with the art, otherwise, it would've been just script. Wish there was a way they could have talked this over.

#29 Posted by kennybaese (1239 posts) - - Show Bio

@JonesDeini said:

@Rixec: Yeah, they've been trying to buy his complicity for years, but it's not about the money for Moore. This interview the last one he did addressing the whole sordid tale is very insightful and a great read no matter which side of the issue you stand on.

This interview was incredibly interesting. I completely understand why Moore was upset about the loss of rights to Watchmen and V for Vendeta to a crappy contract. At the same time, the guy comes off as an incredibly conceited asshole in this whole thing. The notion that he keeps mentioning that DC, or any other comics company, hadn't produced anything that could compare with Watchmen is some other kind of bull. It may just speak to my personal tastes, but there are plenty of comics on my shelf that I find to be just as good as, if not better than, Watchmen. To be clear, I love Watchmen to death, it's an amazing book, but I find things like Morrison's Animal Man run or even modern books like Chew and Locke and Key to be easily on the same level as Watchmen. Again, it might just be the fact that I started reading comics after the book had been out for a decade, and maybe my tastes are different then most, but goddammit if his complete dismissal of all of comics doesn't piss me off. It's incredibly sorry to feel bad for an asshole.

#30 Posted by SpitfireINK (245 posts) - - Show Bio

@kennyshat: Ahmen to that - Although I for one would be seriously PO'ed if someone pulled something I thought was unethical in taking away something I personally created.

#31 Posted by kennybaese (1239 posts) - - Show Bio
@SpitfireINK Definitely. I have no problem with his anger at DC. I have a problem with his dismissal of comics creators and even comics themselves, without which no one would be listening to his crazy.
#32 Posted by htb106 (1724 posts) - - Show Bio

could buy this book but I can't really afford it.

#33 Posted by EpicMeltDown (99 posts) - - Show Bio

Alan Moore is certainly bitter and I definitely don’t agree with his sweeping generalizations about the comics industry. There is a lot of great material out there. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong to feel the way he does about Watchmen. In my opinion, if the original creator doesn’t want there to be more Watchmen that ought to count for something. At this point there is the question of Dave Gibbons. He gave it his blessing. I’ve read the quote and honestly I don’t really think that’s what Gibbons did. I get the feeling that he’d also rather this didn’t happen. Dave could have drawn or written anything in this series that he wanted. If he had come to Didio and asked to letter every other page with a sharpie and supply the remaining issues with a stick figure back-up I think they would have figured out a way to let him do it. Before Watchmen would be a much easier sell with Gibbons’ name anywhere on it. And I guarantee that he would have been setup as the face of Before Watchmen like he was for the Watchmen film. But instead he wishes DC luck while making sure to mention that he and Moore told the complete story they meant to tell. Meanwhile, whenever anyone working on the project is asked about Gibbons they have an ambiguous story to tell that makes Gibbons seem polite but disappointed. I admit this is a bit of conjecture on my part but I feel like the evidence is out there. Anyhow, I won’t be reading these but good luck to those who do.

#34 Posted by JamDamage (1195 posts) - - Show Bio

Who cares about the Watchmen? Dark Knight Returns for the WIN!!!!

#35 Edited by Bobzenub (125 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator: "Fortunately we can all be aholes about it too."

You are the one who wishes to ordain what other people should and should not read, and I'm supposed to be the asshole here? Riiight...

Tell you what! Let's examine the Moore bibliography, shall we?

Marvelman/Miracleman ~ Captain Marvel substitute

Swamp Thing ~ pre-existing character developed further by not the original creator but Alan Moore

Lost Girls ~ essentially porn with Lewis Caroll's Alice, L. Frank Baum's Dorothy and J. M. Berry's Wendy.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ~ Victorian literary figures

Neonomicon/Courtyard ~ H.P.Lovecraft homage

Watchmen ~ Charlton Characters

According to your argument none of the above should exist or just should not have been read by others. Even Moore admitted he is totally hypocritical about Before Watchmen and it is a "personal issue" of his.

Watchmen is not a sacred cow. Get over yourself.

#36 Edited by Eyz (3187 posts) - - Show Bio

To be honest, it's the only one I've been really interested in!

#37 Posted by SpitfireINK (245 posts) - - Show Bio

@kennyshat: Yeah - but - Its a SPECIAL KIND of CrAzY only Alan Moore can bring!

#38 Posted by Mahzian (121 posts) - - Show Bio

Can't wait to read this, I really love Cooke's artwork, I'm not a huge Watchmen fan (I think Moore's attitude and his vocal fans have turned me off) but I can't say no to these creators

#39 Posted by Cyborg6971 (204 posts) - - Show Bio

@JonesDeini said:

@Rixec: Yeah, they've been trying to buy his complicity for years, but it's not about the money for Moore. This interview the last one he did addressing the whole sordid tale is very insightful and a great read no matter which side of the issue you stand on.

That was a great read. At the start I felt like I should cancel my pull, however when getting to the middle and end I felt that Moore's stance of the comic fans turned me off and made him look like a crazy uncle no body in your family mentions.

I understand is bitterness,but to say people buying this are stupid is wrong.

And as for the minutemen IGN just gave it a 9.

#40 Edited by FullmetalChobit (228 posts) - - Show Bio

Exactley! I'm going to pick up the Minutemen books and maybe try Dr.Manhattan. 
I'm more than intrigued about these prequels :)

#41 Posted by FullmetalChobit (228 posts) - - Show Bio

 I'm gunna pick up the Minutemen for sure...maybe Dr.Manhattan too, I'm more than intrigued as to what's going on here :)

#42 Posted by Mumbles (858 posts) - - Show Bio

i'm one of the few watchmen haters, but i'm going to read most, if not all of these titles because of the creative teams involved.

#43 Posted by feargalr (1245 posts) - - Show Bio

Of all the books minutemen is probably the one I'm most interested in, not that I've anything against the series, I just don't care one way or another :/

#44 Posted by RedOwl_1 (1743 posts) - - Show Bio

Mmmm.... I have never read Watchmen (not even watched the movie) Is this a good starting point or I should read 'Watchmen' before this ones?

#45 Posted by Rixec (457 posts) - - Show Bio

@RedOwl_1 said:

Mmmm.... I have never read Watchmen (not even watched the movie) Is this a good starting point or I should read 'Watchmen' before this ones?

I think it's best if you read the original first because it brings out a greater appreciation of the stories being told in Before Watchmen. Think of it like Star Wars, with the original trilogy and the new one. You could just go chronologically but you won't get the suspense later. If you watch Star Wars for the first time in 1-6 order, you wouldn't be surprised when Darth Vader is revealed as Luke's father. So start with Watchmen and then read Before Watchmen.

#46 Posted by MadeinBangladesh (12039 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm gonna take a sneak peek at the comic when I go to pick up my comics this week. Only other BW I'm reading is Rorschach.

#47 Posted by Herokiller12344 (1046 posts) - - Show Bio
To bad Watchmen Sucked.
#48 Posted by CrimsonTempest (340 posts) - - Show Bio
@Herokiller12344 said:
To bad Watchmen Sucked.
That's your opinion. And that's not trolling. Not in the slightest.
#49 Posted by Scrawnto (5 posts) - - Show Bio

@Bobzenub:Huh, the point about his bibliography is pretty interesting.

In any case, I'll just treat this like expanded universe stuff from Star Wars, or the Star Trek novels. There's no reason you can't consider them a separate tier of canon.

#50 Posted by SeriouslyNow (1 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheAnnihilator said:

I just don't think anyone should read any of them.

He's right though. Watchmen isn't like other comics. It's the equivalent of Shakespeare; seminal work which reaches far beyond its medium (in spite of the movie too). Would you be interested in a prequel to The Merchant of Venice or Romeo and Juilet even if penned by some of the world's most celebrated modern authors? I wouldn't, because even IF they could write a convincing parody of his style, the prequels still wouldn't be Shakespeare. These comics are not WATCHMEN. Simple as that.

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