I made a joke on Twitter about DOOMSDAY CLOCK, the new mega-event from DC Comics and WATCHMEN sequel/crossover today. Entertainment Weekly tweeted out something to the effect of “Find out why DC finally decided to make a sequel to WATCHMEN,” and I quote tweeted back five dollar signs. I almost immediately two followers so I thought I’d explore the idea of…
Making Jokes and/or Not Buying Doomsday Clock
First, I get it. I write for Marvel.com and I’m making a snarky joke about DC’s big new project. In retrospect, yeah, that can be annoying for someone who is really excited about DOOMSDAY CLOCK. So apologies I guess. I really truly just meant it as a bit of cynical humor but not everyone is as black and unfeeling in their soul as I.
To be clear though, DC is totally doing it for money. And that’s fine. Really! Honestly, it is. DC Comics is a business and part of a business is making money. It is silly to think otherwise.
And, to be fair, Marvel makes stuff for money too. For instance, the fact that Marvel released CIVIL WAR II close to the debut of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in theatres was not just some sort of cosmic coincidence. They knew they had a hit film on the way and hoped that fans of the movie might find their way to a LCS and snag the latest bit of comic with CIVIL WAR emblazoned on it.
This isn’t to say that DOOMSDAY CLOCK was conceived ONLY for financial reasons. I don’t know Geoff Johns well but I’ve been fortunate to email with him a few times and spend 2 (I think) evenings hanging out with him at conventions a few years apart. He’s passionate about comics, he’s passionate about creativity, he’s passionate about storytelling. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t done work for paychecks now and then, but with a project of this size, this level of possible prestige, at this point in his career? I’m almost certain he did not just take it on for the money.
And, again, making money is not inherently evil, even to this somewhat lefty.
So yes it was just a quick dashed off joke and no it was not particularly fair or accurate.
Also though, I’m not buying DOOMSDAY CLOCK. I reserve the right to change my mind on this, but for now, I feel confident in my choice.
But it isn’t because DC wants to make money.
And it certainly isn’t because it is a DC book and I freelance for Marvel’s website. If I showed you my pull list you’d see quite a few DC titles, I promise.
While I’d love to claim it is because of some kind of moral argument, a stand for creator rights, that would be disingenuous as well. I am definitely not without sympathy for Moore and Gibbons and DC has acted…less than wonderfully towards them on WATCHMAN at times. Enough to give me pause for sure. But I think if it was just that, I’m not sure I wouldn’t be buying CLOCK today, or have avoided BEFORE WATCHMEN, the WATCHMEN prequel, years earlier.
Evidence of this: I saw WATCHMEN in theatres, I own two different versions of it on DVD, and I own the Watchmen DC Direct figures. So, yes, I am a horrible good for nothing consumer. Welcome to late-stage capitalism where none of us get out of this anywhere near pure.
Playing into my resistance to DOOMSDAY CLOCK is THE BUTTON from earlier this year that was being promoted as the first stage of this crossover and was a tremendous bust and totally misleading about its connection to WATCHMEN or DOOMSDAY CLOCK. But I’ve been disappointed and misled by comics before. I can get over that sort of thing.
Mine is more of storytelling objection. WATCHMEN was conceived of a closed loop of a story. A murder begins it, a (mass and individual act of) murder ends it and in-between we are introduced to entirely new characters—albeit loosely based on the Charlton characters like Blue Beetle that DC had acquired years earlier—that were only intended to exist within in the sealed world of those twelve issues.
It is a story that totally immerses you in an alternate United States and holds you in focus for the whole of its run and then it ends. And when it ends, for me, it is done.
There are other things that will happen. Rorschach’s Journal will or will not be published and will or will not destroy Ozymandias’s plans. Doctor Manhattan will or will never return to Earth. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre will go on to live happily ever after or not. But none of those questions begged to be answered, to me. They were interesting to ponder, but having the answers, for me, could almost certainly not live up to the imagining. Also, near as I can tell, DOOMSDAY CLOCK is not interested in being that kind of sequel.
Similarly, while the past history of the WATCHMEN—be it the fact that Nixon is still in power not just past impeachment but past a two-term limit, the post-WWII era heroes of the Minutemen, or the forcing of heroes into retirement or underground—is intriguing, I never felt the need to see it spelled out exactly. The hinting of the world that had passed making a fair more interesting setting that explicitly seeing those events unfold.
So for me, returning to WATCHMEN in nearly any way is a recipe for disappointment. The hill is too high to climb barring a near perfect attempt and I’d rather not plunk my money down to be disappointed and to encourage DC to continue to look backwards to a comic that was published over 31 years ago.
At the time WATCHMEN altered the comic book landscape significantly and for years to come. Although we now have distance from those grim and gritty days full of various WATCHMEN (and DARK KNIGHT) clones, comics remain a backwards pitched industry, moving forward but still forever defining WATCHMEN as the best super hero comic and trying to tap that greatness for more nuggets rather than look for the next possible instance of greatness. It is a totally understandable move and, yet, still, disheartening and disappointing. I don’t blame anyone but I don’t have to pay for it just because I don’t blame anyone for it.