DC Comics, Where Everything Old Is ‘Before’ Again

Written on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 by Kyle posted by kyle

Unless you’ve been far, far away from the comic community for the last year you are aware of DC’s revival of the popular Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons 12 issue mini-series ‘Watchmen’. This years ‘Before Watchman’ has put out multiple mini-series that would make a larger narrative (Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias,  Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Minutemen, The Comedian, Rorschach) and recently added two new titles to the line-up (Dollar Bill, Moloch). All together there will be 37  issues making up for a much expanded Watchmen universe. To say this move has sparked debate would be a gross understatement. I won’t be going over my opinion of the move as far as expanding the narrative created by Moore and Gibbons but it does seem that the desired effect has been achieved. People are talking about these books and they want to see what happens, so they’re buying these books.

Based on this success it shouldn’t be a surprise that Neil Gaiman announced this year that he will be returning to the story that made him a comics super star next year when he and J.H. Williams III present ‘Before Sandman’ in 2013 (details found at shelf-life http://shelf-life.ew.com/2012/07/12/comic-con-neil-gaiman-to-write-new-sandman-series-for-dc-comics-vertigo-imprint/). With two summers in a row providing returns to some of DC’s most innovative series it poses the question about whether this is an ongoing plan.

It’s well known that DC was willing to do a lot to get Moore back for Watchmen, even to only get his blessing (which was never likely) but what else could stand shoulder to shoulder with Watchman and Sandman as a book DC could return to?  It looks like they might have been close with Grant Morrison and his Vertigo series ‘The Invisibles’ (details at comicsbeat http://comicsbeat.com/on-the-scene-dundee-comics-day/). Although it was tabled as a possible anniversary return, such a book would very easily fit a similar format to ‘Before Watchmen.’ Coupled with that the fact that 2014 would be 20 years since the year the first issue of Invisibles was published (September 1994) something tells me that DC will want to bring this up to Morrison again.

Even if we do see a good return out of Before Watchmen, Sandman and Invisibles we are left with a simple question: What’s next? We are looking at 3 incredible series that tore down walls for the comic industry. How many titles does DC have that they could provide additional stories from that have been completed for 20 years? Could 2015 be the year of ‘Before Preacher’? Will DC go a more mainstream route and give us ‘Before Kingdom Come’ to build interest in the multiversity of the new 52? What stories from DC’s past do you think deserves the Before treatment?

4 Responses to “DC Comics, Where Everything Old Is ‘Before’ Again”

  1. schwing says:

    I see the before comics as a sign DC has lost some innovation. That doesn’t mean that they can’t create good or great stories going before these other classics, but how about breaking new ground? How about a small omnibus of stories that people can write in(letter page again?) and tell people what art, stories, and characters they like. I don’t know a little fan interaction with the big 2 might do them some good.

  2. Marc says:

    They have message boards, and social media now. But they get inundated with a barrage of hate when they “open” things up. Far as I can tell, they don’t care about “new” if “before” continues to sell. DC and Marvel play by the “you vote with your dollars” motif. For now, the best thing we can do as fans is simply buy indie books, and show them when they are making a bad choice.

  3. schwing says:

    I agree with you about indie books being one of the best outlits to find new and interesting stories. How many times can I watch Magneto hate mankind for mankind’s sake. Give me the white.

  4. Kyle G. says:

    It’s hard to really pin down how I feel about this. With Before Watchmen they don’t have the original creators consent or involvement but with Sandman Gaiman is writing it, so I’m far more excited to see it. I can understand why they are drawing attention and adding to these stories, it’s because there is interest from the fans and ultimately it’s likely to make money (their ultimate goal as a business). I think DC and Marvel are more built around the idea of continuous narratives that intersect. I really see Image as the place for newer and creator own stories that break new ground.