DC Comics kicked off its all-access panel Aug. 25 with multiple Before Watchmen announcements.
With writers Brian Azzarello and Darwyn Cooke, artist Amanda Conner and Co-Publisher Dan Didio on hand, the company announced the latest addition to its series of prequels set within the Watchmen universe.
“Because of how successful it’s been and the creative ideas that are spinning out of this, we are adding a title to Before Watchmen that will be called Before Watchmen: Moloch,” the company said. “It’s a two issue mini-series. The first issue goes on sale Nov. 7, the second issue goes on sale…Dec. 26.”
The series will be written by J. Michael Straczynski and will be illustrated by Eduardo Risso.
“Eduardo was always one of the guys we wanted to participate in Before Watchmen,” said Didio. “Brian (Azzarello) was a huge supporter of Eduardo’s work so it was great to have him involved. Not just on the covers, but on the interiors as well.”
The company also announced that with the passing of legendary artist Joe Kubert that, at the request of Kubert’s son Adam, legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz will be joining the creative team as an inker on Nite Owl. The elder Kubert passed away Aug. 12.
“We’re really pleased to have Mr. Sienkiewicz on board now and working on Before Watchmen,” the company said.
Upon making the announcements, the lively panelists were given the opportunity to talk about their work on Before Watchmen, beginning with Minute Men and Silk Spectre writer, Darwyn Cooke.
“What Minute Men is about, ultimately, is this notion of the first group of heroes ever to come together and the fact that they’re all together to apparently fight crime but they all have their own agenda, they all have their own reason for doing it,” said Cooke. “The book is sort of a spiral downward. I think my books usually spiral upward, but I think that’s what has made it such an interesting challenge for me, to deal with this material head on.”
The writer said he has leaned very heavily on Silk Spectre and Nite Owl through the first three issues to establish their relationship in the eyes of the readers, but noted that in issue four they’re going to turn more towards the other members of the team. Cooke noted a particular scene with the Comedian in the World War Two Pacific Theatre near Japan, in addition to focusing more strongly on characters like Sally and Moth Man, especially Silhouette and her grisly demise.
“It’s not really a spoiler, Silhouette dies horribly in the Minute Men,” Cooke said. “The rest of the book, she is kind of the heroic centre of the group and the rest of the book is profoundly affected by her death.”
The other characters’ fates become sealed upon her death and what she leaves behind for the rest of her teammates to discover.
“The only other thing I can say is that between issue five and six of this book I’m probably going to be in a missile silo somewhere in the Arctic Circle while I wait out what happens at the end of issue of five and what happens in issue six,” he said. “Dan (Didio) has made it pretty clear to me (that) I should run for cover.”
Cooke stated he believes they have an amazing story to tell in the title and that by the end of it, they hope to have been able to evoke a lot of response from people.
The focus of the panel shifted slightly to Cooke’s other Before Watchmen title as an image of Silk Spectre #4 was displayed for the crowd. Cooke has shared writing duties on the book with artist Amanda Conner, who also provides the artwork for the series.
“We’re going to see a lot more of her mom again,” Conner said of issue four. “In issue three we see a little bit more of Sally, and once issue four comes, we’re going to see a whole new relationship between Laurie and Sally.”
Cooke hinted at a guest appearance at the end of issue three that he believes no one is expecting.
“I think everyone is going to be thrilled by it,” he said.
After a short conversation about Laurie’s acid trip in issue two and its carrying over into the third issue, an image of Brian Azzarello’s Before Watchmen: Rorschach title appeared on screen.
“I haven’t written it yet,” Azzarello jokingly said of issue two, prompting an eruption of laughter from the crowd.
The moderator continued to praise Azzarello’s work on the title, citing it to be staggeringly good work.
“I could have written it in Chinese and everybody would still love it,” Azzarello said in reference to the work of series artist Lee Bermejo.
After briefly discussing Azzarello’s other works The Comedian and Wonder Woman, the panel opened the floor to fan questions.
Given the very public response to the Watchmen prequels when they were first announced, a fan asked the panel whether there was any hesitation on their part in joining the project knowing that the series’ original writer, Alan Moore, envisioned it to be a self-contained story.
“Do they love it more than Batman? I’ve written Batman,” said Azzarello.
“Do they love it more than Spider-Man? Because I’ve written Spider-Man,” Cooke said, following Azzarello’s comment. “The last time I checked Steve Ditko’s still alive and he lives three blocks away from the Marvel offices.”
Noting fans’ collective outrage upon the initial announcement of the prequels, Cooke stated he doesn’t quite understand the backlash to an extent, adding the original Watchmen series was a very important and brilliant book.
“I know I had some hesitation going in,” he said. “It took Dan (Didio) a hell of a long time to get me involved, but it wasn’t because I was afraid of working on it, it was because I didn’t have a story to tell. And once the story occurred to me, I was very excited by the challenge.”
Cooke continued, praising Moore’s original title.
“I had the utmost respect for the work going in, and I knew I wasn’t going to get involved unless I had something I was positive in my own heart was going to contribute something. So yeah, the answer would be a lot of hesitation. You have to be sure you’re going to be able to bring your best work and you’re going to be able to deliver something to the readers that’s going to make it worth their while.”
“I didn’t hesitate at all,” Conner joked.
Cooke praised Conner’s involvement with the title, noting the process involved in their collaboration and the genuine excitement he feels in working with her.
“Working with Amanda (Conner) is the most fun I’ve had in comics in a long time,” Cooke said. “It’s so much fun to work with someone who is so completely plugged in to what they’re doing and who’s able to take tepid notions that I have and grow them the way she does.”
The moderator continued, noting a story he heard about Conner’s research of the original work for a scene in Silk Spectre #1.
“I stuck a lot of Easter eggs in Silk Spectre, so if you comb through the book, and then you comb through the original book, you’ll notice stuff,” she told the audience. “And then I stuck in history Easter eggs too, so there’s some characters in there, and if people are Grateful Dead fans, they’ll be like ‘wait a minute, is that….’ It’s that kind of a book, I keep putting things in for fun.”
As the panel continued on, another curious fan asked the panel whether they made a conscious effort to ignore the Watchmen film’s continuity, citing the movie clearly having shown The Comedian to have assassinated JFK, whereas Azzarello’s series clearly shows The Comedian to be very close with the Kennedy family.
“The movie’s not canon,” Azzarello stated. “Yes, in the movie he killed Kennedy. So I stepped on continuity there? Wait a minute, he changed the ending of the book. So which one do you want me to follow?”
“Both,” he said jokingly.
“I’m following the book,” Conner said.
“When everything was built, everyone was working off the original novels,” said Didio. “The movies stand and exist in their own way and have strength in their own way, but we have to exist as a print thing to make sure our stories work.”
Cooke concluded the panel by praising the work of the creators involved on the Before Watchmen titles who weren’t in attendance, adding that the contributions of artists like Jae Lee and Adam Hughes is simply unbelievable work.