The Watchmen Return
But Alan Moore is not happy
By Jamil of Jamil's Comics
Alan Moore changed the world of comics with his 12-part Watchmen mini-series in 1986. Drawn by Dave Gibbons, it portrayed a realistic world where superheroes were used by the Government for their operations. The 'heroes' have feet of clay, with flaws in their characters as with any other person; and they harbour secrets to achieve their own definition of the greater good. Many coined the phrase “Comics have grown up” when it arrived, and it was a critical phenomenon as well as a massively successful one. Alan Moore was already a superstar at that time. This series made him a god. The Watchmen has stood as a complete story, admired and revered; and has been untouched for 25 years - until now.
DC has recently announced they are presenting a slew of new stories, giving fans of the Watchmen a taste of “Before Watchmen”. Starting this June, the Before Watchmen saga begins with the sub-titles
· Minutemen (by Darwyn Cooke)
· Silk Spectre (by Cooke and Amanda Conner)
· Comedian (by Brian Azzarello & JG Jones) and
· Nite-Owl (by M J Straczynski & Andy Kubert)
While this is great news for us Watchmen fans, it also smells a bit of corporate greed. What prompted the Before Watchmen stories? Are the prequels so important for us to know, that despite strong protests from creator Alan Moore, it had to be done? Did creative cravings have a part to play here, or is it all done to achieve the bottom line?
Alan Moore has made it public that he wants nothing to do with DC (and nothing to do with Marvel for that matter). His has done mainly independent work since he left DC in the late 80's. Image is the only major publisher he has worked for (Wildcats, some issues of Spawn etc). Since his time with DC, he has written many interesting stories including The League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen and From Hell - both turned into hit movies. He has also written such hits as Promethea and the Tomorrow Stories for ABC.
One cannot help wonder what could have been if he did not hold such a strong stand against mainstream comics. Having read his Batman (Killing Joke, Batman Annual 11) and Superman (whatever happened to the man of steel), I cannot but imagine what his stories would be about Spiderman, or Daredevil, or Wolverine. Such a shame. A small resentment does form, from the realisation that we fans are deprived of great work because a genius could not cope with the corporate world.
Having said all that, it's another story of Watchmen, about the heroes I find very interesting. Was the Comedian always that Cynical? What other stories did the Rorschach have? How did the second Silk Spectre cope with her upbringing? It has been 25 years since the Watchmen epic was done. Like every fan, I am eagerly waiting to see what the new stories bring to the table. These will be coming to our hartal-struck country by June.
Yet another week with many brilliant articles. This one, for its literal, yet unique interpretation of the topic, stood out. The writer clearly drew inspiration from Lord of the Rings, but still managed to portray a somewhat interesting picture of a battle. Next week we have the topic: Unreal City. All submissions need to be sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.
All the King's Horses
By Shatadhi Dutta
Everyone has a story to tell; this is my story, told at its ending. We rode ere the sun rose, all the king's horses and all the king's men. Fell were our faces, and chill were our hearts - for we rode to our doom.
She rode beside me. Clad in armor, blade in hand. Her flaming hair was flowing untamed from 'neath her helmet. Only her eyes showed, hard and cold. We rode silently, speaking in silences. Hooves thundered on the hard earth. Armour jangled against swords. The King's banner fluttered in the breeze. The trees swayed in the company's wake. Mighty seemed our strength. At noon we sighted the enemy. The company saw a roiling sea of spears and swords under them. The King turned back and saw our gray faces.
“My men! Long have we cowered in our halls and waited for this doom. Ye saw our country pillaged and burnt, and could do naught.”
“Golden corn burnt in the pyres of the innocents, under the sun. Ye saw thy brothers' corpses strung upon the trees for the sport of crows.” Here He stopped, his shoulders bowed in grief. Yet when he rose, a fire raged in his eyes.
“The time is come for thee to avenge thy land, brother and Queen! The time is come for thee to break thy shields and splinter thy spears on thy foe. Thy blade calls for blood - sate its thirst!
He pulled on his helm, and drew his sword.
We drew ours in reply. “Death!” he cried.
“Death!” cried the riders in one voice terrible, and rode down to meet the foe, never more to return to their halls.
As we rode down, I remembered my son's murder in their hands. I gazed at her, and so did she. Her eyes burnt with war. We looked awhile at each other, two fey souls, and smiled. We set our spears, and thundered down to our doom. The two forces met like waves breaking on rocks at sea. The enemy looked at our eyes burning and fled or were slaughtered. A rumour was heard ever after that the dead had come to war. The first charge was won.
We called aloud for the coward that had slain our son. “Come, knave, and face us, else we will drag you from your hole!” we cried. Then we saw him. She rode towards him, blade in hand. He met her mid- charge, and they clashed together. She clove his arms; her eyes alight with a madness spawned from vengeance. Suddenly the King shouted, “Fall back! The archers are firing!”
I called to her, but she hewed at her foe with mad anger. And so it was that while I was dragged back, she fell to their arrows, slaying her foe.
We ride to our final charge. My story ends, yet remember it. Maybe lays will be sung in a far future about the last charge of the King's Horses, who rode to their doom. Remember us, the dead who came to war!