DC Announces a NEW BEFORE WATCHMEN Mini
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Before Watchmen: Moloch will be released in two issues in beginning in November. The series, which will feature art by Eduardo Risso (Spaceman, 100 Bullets), was announced Saturday during a DC panel at Fan Expo Toronto.
Straczynski is already writing two of the property's other prequels: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl and Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan. The writer is also behind the graphic novel series Superman: Earth One, which has its second volume coming out in October.
Moloch has already been glimpsed in a couple of the existing Before Watchmen titles, which launched in June and serve as a prequel to the 1986 mini-series Watchmen.
Newsarama talked with Straczynski to find out more about the series and whether he'd like to see more Watchmen stories developed now that DC has expanded its reach with the Moloch story.
Newsarama: Joe, what brought about the decision to explore Moloch's story? Was this something you suggested, DC suggested, or what? And why?
J. Michael Straczynski: There were a number of factors at work. I know that Moloch was someone that Dan [DiDio] really wanted to explore because on the one hand he’s central to the mythology of the original Watchmen, and on the other, he’s fairly enigmatic. We only see him at the end of his life, and the rest is just a few facts and dates tossed around in text or dialogue. But because the workload of all these series was so enormous, it didn’t seem like it was a real possibility for any of us to pick it up. Fortunately, I was first to get my scripts in and the first to be finished in general, and Dan saw a window in which to do it. So he asked if I’d be willing, and of course I said yes, for the reasons noted above.
Nrama: What attracted you to this character's story? Why did it appeal to you as a writer?
Straczynski: Like all writers, I’m fascinated by process and perspective. All of the other books we’re doing show the process by which someone becomes a hero, and we see events from that point of view. But what we don’t see is how Edgar Jacobi went from being a kid to a magician/mystic, to a criminal, and finally turned his life around through Catholicism. That’s a hell of a journey. To be able to take the few facts about his life and stitch them together into a story that shows us both that process and his perspective was terribly exciting.
Nrama: How does it tie into the overarching themes you are all exploring in the Before Watchmen series? Or is it a stand-alone story in plot and theme?
Straczynski: To a large degree it stands alone, but at the same time, nearly all of the books are about the sort of decisions we make when confronted by crisis or the moment when one can go left or right in how we deal with tragedy or rage. We are all the products of our tears. So in that respect, thematically Edgar’s story is of a piece, but it shows what happens when the character takes the darker path.
Nrama: Now that you're well into writing the Before Watchmen stuff, how would you describe the experience for you? How is it different from/ comparable to other things you've done?
Straczynski: It’s been a really great experience. Dan handled this exactly right in that he allowed the writers and the artists absolute freedom to tell whatever story excited them the most. He didn’t try to tie it into a big overarching story in ways that would have sacrificed the individual titles, he specifically wanted to give these characters, and those charged with telling their stories, room to breathe. It’s really hard to compare it to anything else because it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Nrama: What does Eduardo Risso bring to this project in particular, and how has the experience been working with him?
Straczynski: I haven’t had much direct contact with him, but I’m in awe of the pages he’s done. His style is almost minimalist in some ways, using one stroke where others might use ten, but he gets a massive amount of emotion into each of them. It’s moody, atmospheric, creepy and yet somehow kind of fanciful at the same time. That’s a hard combo to pull off.
Nrama: The addition of a Moloch story indicates DC might be looking to extend the franchise you and the rest of the creators have built in the Before Watchmen series. If they might do that, are there any other Watchmen characters or concepts you think are ripe for exploration? Or that you might even want to explore yourself?
Straczynski: I can’t speak for DC because I don’t know their corporate plans or long-term agendas, and if I did I wouldn’t admit it, but on a strictly personal basis I doubt that they’re going to push this into a big franchise. Dan’s always talked about this as a chance to have some fun with some amazing characters, tell some good stories and get the hell off the stage. I could be wrong – not that that’s ever happened, of course – but if I had to make a guess, that would be it.
If, on the other hand, they were to explore it in future at some point, I’d like to keep playing with Dr. Manhattan. I think he’s a massively cool character and he lets me stretch some of the science fiction muscles I don’t get to use very often in comics.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the Moloch series or the Before Watchmen series overall?
Straczynski: When the furor hit the interwebs we all said that, in the end, the books would stand or fall based on the quality of the work.
The hype, the PR, the he-said/she-said...in the end it’s meaningless and irrelevant. What matters is what ends up on the shelf. If it works, it sells, and it continues living. If it doesn’t, it’s fishwrap. What the books have shown through the sales and the overall reception is that these are really good stories, by some of the best writers and artists in the business (and me, bringing up the rear), and I think they will stand the test of time.
In the end, what else is there?
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