There is only one significant comic book being released this week, and the title is Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1. What, why and how is this a fact? Here we go:
Walter Kovacs, a.k.a. Rorschach is the stand out crime fighter from the ensemble cast that is Alan Moore’s Watchmen. As the unloved runt son of a whore, Kovacs had to fight daily for survival and respect. Growing into an unfeeling, violent vigilante crime fighter, Rorschach is the tipping point for the narrative of Watchmen, as well as the moral compass, underdog anti-hero, and the benchmark against which all dark, violent comic book characters will forever be measured against.
DC comics is owned by Warner Brothers, which is currently losing out (badly) to Marvel in turning their highly profitable comic books into box office and merchandising gold. With few recognizable properties left to exploit, DC has greenlit prequel comics to Watchmen, as the film adaptation of the same was both a critical and box-office darling when it hit screens in 2009.
DC has hired top talents to work on these titles, hoping for new, original graphic novels they can flip into a lucrative film franchise. So far the books have been controversial, angering some and pleasing others.
New readers have come in the door, but so far Before Watchmen has not been the mainstream success story DC has hoped for.
Before Watchmen Rorschach is the BIG ONE! More than any other character, Rorschach has the most cultural resonance and break-out appeal. IF Rorschach sells the units DC expects, a film prequel will surely follow.
DC has reunited the creative team of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermajo to work on this title. Fans will remember these two from their well received original graphic novel Joker, which sells well as it reads as a screenplay for a Joker spin-off movie staring Heath Ledger.
Azzarello is WONDERFUL, and is the only writer who has a hope of making this book work. Bermajo straddles the fence wonderfully between real life and comic book bravado, and makes a financially sound partner with Azzarello.
The Before Watchmen books have not increased DCs profile with the unwashed as much as they had hoped , and have angered the comic book community more then DC would like to admit. They are fine books, but they are derivative works from one of the most original voices in the business.
This, my friends, is it; IF Rorschach brings in the readers and tells a new, compelling story, if it breaks order records and has even a shred of praise from reviews, and if it could manage to swing a few awards then DC will know that their grand experiment in mining sacred tombs for sustainable profits works.
If it doesn’t? Well, from DC’s perspective it’s not that big of a deal…see, Warner Brothers is convinced that nobody really reads comic books anyway. If this title bombs then they believe it to be an indication that these characters aren’t as profitable as they thought, and they’ll devote their time to a Superman or Batman reboot instead.
This book is the make or break title for the Before Watchmen project, and just like little Walter Kovacs himself, I do want this book to win…but it didn’t end up so well for Rorschach in the comics, now did it?
More musings from Unkiedev, Earth’s own sidekick, can be read at unkiedev.blogspot.com