Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Open Forum: After The Watchmen, What Next?

You may have seen Grant Morrison's recent interview regarding his upcoming Multiversity series for DC, wherein he promised a sequel of sorts to Watchmen, using the original Charlton characters on which Moore's landmark creations were based. With that and the release of the film on DVD today, I got to thinking about that old saw regarding whether any sequel to Watchmen is even possible - so i pitched the question to our Seebelow contributors; Assuming that it was Alan Moore returning to these characters, what stories do you think are left untold in Watchmen?

Jon •
For my part, I am utterly uninterested in seeing anything about the world that follows the culmination of Adrian Veidt's master-plan - particularly given Moore's recent trend towards dense symbolist utopias. I think there are smaller stories that have greater inherent gravitas than a post-telepathic-squid future and some sort of speculative second generation peace built on inherited fear. (I also harbor the suspicion that, were Moore being honest with himself, he'd come to realize that there are only two stories which can come after Watchmen - either Ozymandias takes up the habit of reinforcing his Pax Phobium every few years with new spins on the old telepathic alien, and the public grows lax and restless with the idea of nebulous threats, eventually turning to new/old enemies OR he doesn't do that and everyone goes back to their old ways even sooner. We've alreadfy seen how catastrophic fear of an unseen enemy affects the world, and it doesn't change us as much as the Outer Limits would have us thing ... As I saw in someone's sig file once; 9/11 was our giant telepathic squid, and it didn't change anything).

As for what stories scream out to be completed; I think the general answer would be "The Adventures of the Minutemen," which is a very general request but certainly one that is testament to Moore's ability to breathe life into these characters who moved in an only transitory fashion across the page. Personally, the one Minuteman whose life I'm most curious about is Hooded Justice - it's only alluded to, but certainly definite, that the Comedian killed Hooded Justice, but the circumstances of that meeting and the events leading the guy who might have been an immigrant strongman but you can never tell with Moore sounds fascinating to me.

Likewise, and given Moore's penchant from langorous tales of exotic sexuality, I think the story of the Silhouette begs to be told. I'd love to see him re-approach that character ... if I remember correctly, she never even receives a line of dialogue in the book (ed - Leonard corrected me, she has exactly one great line), but she was immediately fascinating for all her excesses against assorted taboos.

For more modern subjects, in rereading the book this time, I was drawn into The Comedian's breakdown following his discovery of Ozymandias' hidden island, and strongly believe that a story covering that timeframe would be terrific, and would create an even greater depth for the world of the Watchmen.

Leonard • This is a pretty good topic, and one that I’ve unsurprisingly given a lot of thought to. For my part, I share Jon's interest in both Hooded Justice and the Silhouette, but the Minuteman whose untold story hooks me the most is poor ol’ Byron, the Moth-Man. The one time we see him, he’s clearly insane, and Hollis hints that he’s also been shattered by alcoholism, but he’s not just a run-of-the-mill DT-plagued drunk; you have to think that in Moore’s world, there had to be some underlying issue that forced him down the path of drink and madness, and I’d be keen to know what it was.

The events that triggered the passage of the Keane Act are also a perennial candidate for the Greatest Watchmen Story Never Told, as well. It doesn’t seem like it would play out as simply as it did in the comic: Dr. Manhattan aside, and it’s unlikely too many people would openly badmouth him, I can’t see how the extremely limited activities of five non-powered costumed crimefighters would so enrage the public. They’d all be limited in geographical range; even someone as skilled as the Nite Owl/Rorschach team couldn’t cover more than a few miles or thwart a few crimes a night, so it hardly seems possible that they’d be putting the cops out of business. And even if they were particularly brutal and unconstitutional, well, the American public has always been pretty forgiving of that from authority figures, particularly during the real-world Nixon Administration. I suspect there was something more, something bigger behind the passage of the Keane Act.

Finally, just because they’re always more interesting than the heroes, I’d like to get a few stories of the super-villains the Minutemen and their successors faced. We know who Moloch was, but we don’t know what he did, or how he rose to a position of such power as a mere stage magician; and it might be a kick to see Captain Axis, the owner of the giant gorilla mask at Minutemen HQ, and “Dusk Woman” or “Twilight Lady” or whatever her name was in action.

Austin •
I was always really interested in how Moloch could foil or escape a real-life wizard like Dr. Manhattan as well, but what really made me go 'uh...' was what was happening behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains in the early days of Dr. Manhattan's time in the Army.

Matt •
I've actually been musing about the comic books of the Watchmen universe for quite some time. For some reason I imagine Gold Key doing really well with their TV show adaptions and stuff. But in general I wonder what the fiction and especially the fantastic fiction of that world was/is like. We know there's no Superheroes... did Dr. Manhattan destroy science fiction? Did Heinlein write any of the semi-trippy novels he's famous for? Did Moorcock? Did the first wave of revival interest in Lovecraft take off?

No Vietnam, no Watergate, and a big blue glowing American god: what did they dream about? Read about? Think about?

Ed •
I think, of all the material in Watchmen that I'd like to see readdressed, it's the Tales of the Black Freighter. Is the Black Freighter a ghost ship? Does it harvest fallen souls, or create them? Is there any connection between this boat, and Moore's other Black Freighter, the Nautilus? Where did the other members of the crew come from? I keep meaning to reread these portions of the book, and the supplemental material to see what other info I can glean, but I also keep meaning to clean garbage out of my front yard and wash the dishes too.

RJ •
I'd like to see a short story about a once-successful Hollywood producer. Maybe a Robert Evans-type, pretty successful in the 1970s, but then had a string of flops and is now closer to Harry Zimm. No one's returning his calls, he can't scrape together funding for a new picture to save his life. He has a shoddy little office above a taqueria a couple of blocks off of West Sunset Boulevard, full of posters and props from his career, all covered in dust. Some afternoon, he's just sitting there at his desk, finishing off a bottle of Clan MacGregor when the phone rings. The person on the other end says she has foreign investors looking to put up large amounts of money for an elaborate horror film to be shot somewhere in the tropics and the failed producer is just the man they think could put the whole thing together and would he be interested? How about for a huge fee upfront and a generous percentage of the gross and foreign distribution? Oh, sure, they'd even throw some funding toward the film he's been wanting to make for years- a personal project- a picture about the sinking of the Maine. Wonderful! A comic book writer is working on a draft of the horror screenplay right now. One catch- the whole thing has to be rather secret, you see, as it involves some new processes and special effects other studios would simply love to get their hands around.

Also- the designers at Veidt's toy division- "We spent eight months on these! 'No enemies anymore'?!? That's bullshit! Jesus christ, we even laid out the fucking catalog. Damnit, I should have taken that gig at Mattel."

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