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Wait, What? Ep. 74: Who Before Watches the Before Watchmen?

Jeff Lester


I hope you have your calendar cleared until 2014, because that’s how long it’s going to take before Graeme and I get to answering all your questions from this thread.

Honestly, how were we to know Before Watchmen was going to launched the day before we were scheduled to talk?  As the astute listener may note, we were pretty reluctant to launch into the topic and how clearly tried to get it out of our system beforehand…but like one of those county fair snacks gone bad, it keeps finding new and horrible ways to re-surge and expel itself.

So join us, won’t you, for Wait, What? Ep. 74?  The first eighty minutes is Graeme and I talking Watchmen, Before Watchmen, Multiversity, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Len Wein, John Higgins, Dave Gibbons and the mighty sleeveless one himself, Alan Moore.

Then for the next fifty or so, we answer your questions.  Five of them.  But in the course of doing so, we also manage to gas on about Batman: Leviathan, Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, Jack Kirby’s Machine Man, books we regret recommending, The Drops of God, Earth X, Fantastic Four, Micronauts, Chris Claremont’s last storyline on Uncanny X-Men, the Image anniversary, and more.

An infernal pact was made and sanctified with waffles to bring you the latest episode on iTunes, but an emergent loophole allowed us to also share it with you here and now:

Wait, What? Ep. 74: Who Befores Watches The Before Watchmen?

We hope you enjoy, and as always, thanks for listening!

108 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 74: Who Before Watches the Before Watchmen? ”

  1. It was great to hear you get into Claremont at the end, especially after hearing Graeme reevaluate Claremont in the last episode, saying he likes his new stuff unironically.

    What got me into Claremont was Jason Powell’s blog, reading and analyzing
    of Claremont’s 17 year X-men run. It got me reading and got me appreciating both Claremont and X-Men.


    It’s definately worth the massive undertaking, including the invaluable comments. It’d be great to hear you two getting into this on the podcast.

    (The link starts at the end, so you’ll have to hit “Older Posts” quite a few times to get to the beginning. I’ve put it all into text documents for my own use.)

  2. God, I gotta stop visiting the DC message boards about Watchmen. All that board ever makes me want to do is to punch things.

  3. McKracken’s knowledge of Britain’s cultural atmosphere in the 1980s (where Moore was living and working) displays telepathic prowess at which one can only marvel. I now see that war, class conflict, entrepreneurial ambitions, the gutting of British industry, Murdoch triumphing against unions, and the such like were really just a coded way of saying “MTV, McDonalds and Malls”.

    And yes, of course Watchmen is set in America. One might counter charges that it fails to include all the “MTV, McDonalds and Malls” with the small point that the DAMN BOOK IS A COUNTERFACTUAL, if not an outright parable.

    See also: Einstein’s Monsters, London Fields, THREADS (as mentioned above), When The Wind Blows…

  4. Although this Watchman discussion has been great, I just wanted to thank you for answering my question.

    Now back to Watchmen…

  5. @Moose n squirrel: “But I’ve assumed since this story first broke that the real point of a Watchmen prequel is to test the waters for a Watchmen sequel, which is obviously both the more aesthetically offensive and the more opportunistic way to go.”

    I dunno. If that’s their gameplan, I’d much rather them have just done it. A Watchmen sequel has more of a reason to exist, and would perforce involve more imagination, even if it sucks, than fitting in prequel stories about Walter Kovacs learning how to fight, to be nobody’s fool.

  6. I’m going to sidestep the larger Watchmen discussion, and circle back to Mr. Lester’s aside regarding “The Killer” and the minefield of adapting or expanding upon an original work. In the film industry, it is rare that an original premise is left alone. Remakes are pretty standard. Some can be pretty good, others not so much. So “The Killer” is a notable exception in this regard. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Bangkok Dangerous. Bangkok Dangerous was a Thai crime film released back in 1999 that did quite well on the festival circuit. Several years later Nicolas Cage signed on to star in the adaptation. Cage was slated to play the main character, a deaf-mute hitman. A DEAF-MUTE HITMAN. NIC CAGE. Well, in a turn of events that surprised fucking no one, they changed it so that Mr. Cage could have lines. Here’s the money quote from director Oxide Pang:

    “Producers say, ‘It’s better to have him talk. [We] don’t want to have a superstar in a Thai film not talk,’ ”

    So take that with you Jeff. Clutch your copy of “The Killer” to your breast and shudder at the the thought of what could have been.

  7. I am reaaaaaaalllllyy late to this discussion. I don’t always get a chance to listen right away, but I felt a driving need to respond.

    All of this is besides the point of Before Watchmen’s artistic merits, that will be a personal call for each comic fan when the issues arrive.

    I’m sure I am not the only one to voice these thoughts (heck at this point I might be the last!) but I can’t believe the incredible naivety and hypocrisy I heard on the podcast and have read in this thread.

    Seriously, we’re meant to be surprised and shocked that a major corporation has acted in its own self interest? Hasn’t anyone ever worked a a large business (even medium or small)? Isn’t this one of the reason’s that people got so worked up when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same rights as people?

    A business is not moral or immoral, it is amoral. To think otherwise as a freelancer or work for hire employee is delusional. The corporation that you work for right now cares nothing for you and will downsize you, use your idea, cut you pay or hours and generally treat you as a spare part if that is what is deemed best for the business. Loyalty to any business is always a one way street unless you have an iron clad contract or a part ownership in the business. Look around at the unemployment rate. How many people who are now unemplyed thought they were indispensable and would never be let go?

    Then, to push the naivety to a surreal level, Jeff makes the case that freelancers shouldn’t have to read their contracts as they need the work and can’t risk pissing off their prospective clients (employers). If you think this way, you are just asking to be taken advantage of. It doesn’t matter what age you are, the same applies to a 23 year old and a 63 year old. You can wish it wasn’t this way and then scream bloody murder when the company does what it is contractually able to do. Or maybe, you read the contract disagree with it, request changes, have that denied and then just walk away. In this case there would have been no Watchmen, we would have been denied an excellent take on the dominant comic genre and Moore’s resume is less than it is now. But…Moore still has his idea, can continue to shop it around and doesn’t feel this level of animosity towards DC. I don’t know which choice is better. I’m for having Watchmen at all but admit that maybe, if Moore wasn’t militantly opposed to ever again working for DC, that there may have been something else superior to Watchmen that may have resulted. What I do know is that the idea that he should just sign whatever contract and hope that DC would take pity and return a profitable property to him with no benefit to the company is a fantasy.

    That leads me to my second point. How can comic fans be up in arms about this as a slight to more nad continue to buy (and in the case of the Wait, What podcast review):
    X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Superman, Captain America, Batman, Ghost Rider (anyone read the latest news about Marvel and Gary Frierich?? Repulsive.), Howard The Duck, Angela, Creeper and so many more I can’t even begin to name them. In all of these cases, the original creators feel that they were cheated, swindled, mislead or just plain robbed of their creations. Where is the upswell of outrage for Kirby, Friedrich, Seigel, Simon, Gerber, Ditko and a thousand more?

    It is counter-productive for this conversation to contniue to be about bad contracts and unsuspecting creators. In most cases, US courts have upheld the company’s rights to the copyright of these characters. In many cases, the comany’s have a good argument about how their stewardships of these properties have enabled their success. What should be the focus now is educating the current creators, young and old about their rights and how to protect them.

    Sorry for the length.

    PS – Beleive it or not…Love the podcast!

  8. There’s certainly practically nothing I fancy more compared to coming to this thoughts every week just after work. Thanks a lot for all of the marvelous articles!!

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