A couple months ago, comics rumor monger Rich Johnston reported that DC Comics, and perhaps more specifically parent company Warners, was exploring ways to expand Watchmen-- sequels, prequels, you name it. And this of course caused quite a kerfluffle, and this of course led to then-editorial director (and now co-publisher) Dan Didio to deny that DC would ever do anything of the sort. "Shocked, I am SHOCKED at this outrageous insinuation", I believe he was heard to say. And I meant to blog about it, and then I didn't, and it all went away.
Until this week, when right before Comic Con, Wired released a teaser for an upcoming interview with Alan Moore in which he claims that DC offered him back the rights to Watchmen in exchange for new stories. And he, of course, turned them down, because basically the characters are dead to him. So that was it, right? DC asked, Moore said go fuck yourselves, and we all went on with our lives. Well, here's what now-copublisher Didio told Comic Book Resources yesterday:
"[T]he one thing that we've been saying for a while is that 'Watchmen' is truly one of the premier projects out there, and if we were ever to proceed with [a sequel] the most logical place to start would be with Alan and Dave. For me, it's one of those things that's still one of the crown jewels in comics, and if you ever wanted to approach it, you'd have to do it in that manner – making sure the best talent available and possible was working on it."
So, obviously, they're doing it.
Which, hey, is their right, since they own the characters. And Moore did essentially base the Watchmen off preexisting characters, so there's that. And... it's still pretty shitty.
Thing is, to DC/Warners, Watchmen isn't just a book anymore, it's a tentpole franchise (that's the kind of thing they like to say) sitting around collecting dust because some asshole freak writer got his feelings hurt 20 years ago. And that must seem pretty insane to them. I mean, the book sold a million copies last year alone. A million copies. They'd be stupid not to make sequels! And the only thing stopping them is a guy that doesn't even work for the company any more?
The biggest- perhaps only- drawback for DC will be to find anyone willing to step over Moore's corpse and risk career suicide for this. Because "best talent available" means a lot of things, but if it's "in Alan Moore's league", well, there's basically Neil Gaiman, and he sure as hell isn't going to do it. Then there's the generation of British writers that followed in Moore's footsteps-- Morrison, Ellis, Ennis, ect. On the one hand, they might be intrigued to tackle such a daunting challenge; on the other, well, they'd be insane to do it. Certainly, none of them needs to be the new Watchmen guy, and it's really not worth ruining their careers to be universally deemed an inferior sellout. One guy that makes for an interesting possibility is Peter Milligan, whose just as good (if not better) then the others, but has never received the same kind of public acclaim, mainly because he has no feel for writing traditional superheroes. Would it be worth it to him to try and, finally, make a name for himself, basically going all-in?
Probably not. Try as I might, I just see the name "Judd Winick" floating around in my magic 8-ball. "Best available talent" will mean "the guy under contract that says yes". All we can really be sure of is, no matter what happens, it will not be very good. Because if there's one thing DC Comics has taught us under Dan Didio, it's no matter the project, no matter the concept, they will absolutely, positively fuck it up somehow.