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Posts tagged “Brian Azzarello

Ready or Not, Here it Comes : The Watchmen Prequels

Well folks, the hammer finally dropped. It looks as if DC comics has finally decided to unleash the prequels for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal classic Watchmen under the uninspired banner-title of “Before Watchmen.” We’ve been hearing rumors about this for quite some time and while initially it seemed like a bad joke, last year BleedingCool started running supposed concept art for the project that started getting yanked down at the request of DC, adding legitimacy to the ruView postmor and fanning the fires of speculation. The speculation has finally ended and the truth has come out.

Neither Alan Moore nor Dave Gibbons will be involved creatively in the project, with several mini-series being handled by a cadre of talent that ranges from exciting to unsettling. Alan Moore could probably care less about the development, as his feelings on the matter are pretty well established even if he did speak them in a magical language that only Alan Moore himself understands. Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons however gave a comment to DC’s The Source which broke the news today saying:

“The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. 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[.]”

So what can we look forward to in this little prequel installment? Here’s the rundown of all the titles:

RORSCHACH, a 4-issue miniseries by writer Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN, a 6-issue miniseries with writing and art handled by Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN, a 6-issue miniseries by writer Brian Azzarello with art by J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN, a 4-issue miniseries by writer J. Michael Straczynski with art by Adam Hughes
NITE OWL, a 4- issue miniseries by writer J. Michael Straczynski with art by Joe and Andy Kubert
OZYMANDIAS, a 6 -issue miniseries by writer Len Wein with art by Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE, a 4-issue miniseries by writer Darwyn Cook with art by Amanda Conner

So how do I feel about all this?

Let’s be honest. Watchmen is an amazing book. It’s a classic and its importance to the world of graphic literature cannot be understated. It represents a shift in the way comics were written and understood and that does not change just because we’re getting more books with those characters by other creators down the line. The characters were hobbled from the Charleston universe and twisted into their own place by Alan Moore in the eighties. So while there is a standalone universe to Watchmen it isn’t necessarily an original invention. Getting angry that someone else wants to play in that sandbox when the entire medium is predicated on people further developing the ideas of others (at least in the mainstream superhero industry) just doesn’t work.

Let’s look at the lineup for the talent on this project for a bit. Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, and Amanda Conner are all folks who pretty much guarantee that I’ll pick up their work sight unseen because their track record is pretty stellar. I can tell you that I am indeed interested in Rorschach, Minutemen, Comedian and Silk Spectre based off of their involvement alone. I think they’re all talented writers and artists who could do something really interesting with these particular characters. Now, the x-factor here is Stracynski. He can be a phenomenal writer when he’s on top of his game. I loved his run on Thor and while he may have made some decisions I didn’t agree with over the course of his career many of those can be attributed to editorial meddling and I won’t delve into that quagmire here. Given the characters that he’s handling, I think Dr. Manhattan is certainly something he could mine some good material out of. Especially if he hits the same notes he was while writing Thor. Nite Owl is a little trickier. If I’d had my way I would have had someone like Greg Rucka on that particular title. But I’m not in charge and at this point all I can do is speculate about how all of this is going to turn out.

As I’ve said, my main issue here isn’t with the fact that we’re getting prequels. It’s not inheritly a bad thing. What I am afraid of is that the stories they are going to tell won’t match up with what has been brewing in the fan culture’s subconscious for several decades and that the whole project will flounder as a result. I can’t help but draw parallels to the Star Wars prequels which saw a great deal of hype only to be cut down by fanboys who didn’t like the direction the franchise took. But at least in that instance the fans could point the finger at George Lucas and say he ruined his own creation. This time around we have the added buffer zone of it being separated from the original creators. If people don’t like it they will try to say that it’s not “canon” or that it “doesn’t matter.” Which is, in a way, a double edged sword. It lacks the legitimacy of having the original creators involved and that is either a great thing or a horrible thing depending on which way you look at it. I mean, Frank Miller himself handled the followup for The Dark Knight Returns and that was absolute garbage. I know we put Alan Moore on a pedestal sometimes but I think in this instance the talent involved is enough to warrant the community keeping an open mind.

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CCQ picks the Top 5 stories of 2009

CCQ Top 5 of 2009:

Alright, the year has ended and thus it’s time for me to round up the year and present my top 5 picks for the best stories of the year. Now, this being comics we’re talking about, some things get a little tricky when it comes to if  a particular story should be eligible. For example, I will not include BLACKEST NIGHT on this list, no matter how many people claim it as the best of the year, because it hasn’t ended yet. (That and I don’t go ga-ga over it the way some people do. It’s an okay enough story, but it hasn’t given me the unending nerdgasm everyone has told me I should be experiencing over it.)
So here we go!

5. “Invincible Iron Man : World’s Most Wanted” (Marvel)
Iron Man, Iron Man, Does Whatever An Iron Can!
[Buy It At Amazon]

Matt Fraction has done something that I didn’t think was possible in the comic medium; he wrote an Iron Man story that people will actually remember. Do you know how many of those actually exist? To my knowlege the only two story arcs anybody can name as being of any lasting quality are “Demon in a Bottle” and “Armor Wars.” Perhaps the stuff with Doom, but I really only love that one because I love me some Doom. Seriously, that guy does not get the treatment he deserves. How many GREAT Doom stories can you count? He and Tony should totally hook up and make little underappreciated babies.

When it comes to “World’s Most Wanted,” (hereafter refered to as WMW because I think that acronym looks cool) Matt Fraction gives us a breakneck paced thriller that would work as a James Bond or Jason Bourne film. The protagonist being up against the wall makes for some great character moments, showing just how Tony Stark deals with such things, as well as forcing the narrative forward in ways that wouldn’t work with the hero on level ground.

I cannot recommend this one enough. Even if you don’t normally read Iron Man, this one is definately worth checking out. It’s as good as it gets in modern Marvel comics. No joke.

4. Filthy Rich (Vertigo Crime)
She Got Some Purty Lips...
[Buy It At Amazon]

The Vertigo Crime line kicked off with a bang with Brian Azzarello’s “FILTHY RICH,” the story of an ex football star turned car-salesman who gets suckered into a job as a bodyguard that quickly devolves into some of the girttiest noir this side of a Raymond Chandler novel.

Azzarello cranks up the noir to eleven and artist Victor Santos utilizes the stark black and white pallatte to create a world that positivly drips with dirt and grime. It’s a harsh reality filled with harsh people and as a reader you can’t help but be drawn in by the intricacies of the story, and believe me when I tell you that this is not a simple book. Don’t judge the book by it’s size, the scope and content contained within this graphic novel is mindblowing and it’s something you’ll want to go back and read again just to pick up on new details.

3. INCOGNITO (Icon)

You've Got Red On YOu
[Buy It At Amazon]

I want to punch Ed Brubaker in the trachea. Or maybe in the kidneys. I dunno, somewhere painful. As a writer who labors to write even the most trite of a narrative, I hate Ed Brubaker for being able to consistantly and constantly put out such great material, and the fact that he does so mutliple times a month is enough to drive me into a seething rage not seen outside of a Tea-Party protest. Seriously, Bru, you suck.

“Incognito” re-teams Brubaker with Sean Philips, his collaborator from the equally amazing “Sleeper” and “Criminal” series. The art is perfectly suited to the world that Ed creates, it’s a sort of murky realm where people like this seem natural and organic, like they were born out of the scenery to play out the story that their God, Ed Brubaker hath destined them to partake in.

As a sort of flipside to the world of superheroics, much in the way “Sleeper” was, “Incognito” delivers familiar ideas viewed through a different lens. It’s basically the logical grandchild of the Watchmen era. And just as readable.

2. CHEW (Image)
NOM NOM NOM!
[Buy It At Amazon]

If you were one of the lucky few who picked up CHEW # 1 when it first hit stands, congratulations not only were you in on the ground floor of one of the best new comics in years, you also struck gold because that first edition is going for mucho money right about now. It went back to press another three times and now if you haven’t read it, you’re just doing it out of spite because this book is what finally allowed me to say I read Image Comics out loud with no shame. Yeah, “Walking Dead” is amazing and so is “Invincible” but those are both written by Kirkman, so I was previously just saying “I read Kirkman comics” because I’m still not too keen on much else being published by Image but this is certainly helping.

Would you like me to tell you what the book is about, just in case you’re completely in the dark regarding what I’ve been rambling about for the last paragraph? Lemme just give you the official synopsis:

Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he’s a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. He’s been brought on by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases.

Chicken is also illegal in the book.

Yeah, go read it.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe (Oni Press)
You Can't Tell Here, But That Cover Is SHINY!!!
[Buy It At Amazon]

I cannot put into words how much I love Scott Pilgrim. Seriously, it’s awesome. So awesome that it had to be imported from Canada. Who knew, right? Anyhow, the series has been balls-to-the-wall cool since it’s inception but the lastest volume (being 5) seriously nails the emotional notes that it aims for and really provides us with solid development for the characters that has been slowly building since the first page of the first volume.

I can’t really do it justice, so here’s an actual page.

OMFG CAKE!

Nom Nom Nom, indeed.