Reviewing Some WATCHMEN History

Not the alternate history of the Watchmen earth, but our history of the Watchmen comic, has been the recent focus of some bloggers.
On the eve of opening, it's still difficult to believe the Watchmen movie is here. But it's good to celebrate by reflecting back on the classic source material and its accoutrements.

The bloggers over at The Cool Kids Table have dedicated a considerable amount of page space to this subject over the past few weeks. Among the material they've gathered is the link to a scan of writer Neil Gaiman's 1985 magazine profile of Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore, which saw print just months before Watchmen #1 was released. Available for reading on the Cool Kids blog itself is a scan of Frank Plowright's preview article, featuring an interview with Moore, from Amazing Heroes #62.

Moving over to the art side of things, Cool Kids' RICKEY has pointed out that co-creator Dave Gibbons was not the only artist to put his stamp on the Watchmen, even in the 80's. For the wraparound covers of DC's encyclopedic miniseries Who's Who '87, none other than Todd MacFarlane (pitifully) included the Golden Age Minutemen (issue #4) while Pablo Marcos let the Watchmen mingle with other DCU stars (#5). Who's Who was careful to note, however, that Watchmen was not part of the mainstream DC Universe.

But when Cool Kids' BEN MORSE revisited the origins of the Moore-Gibbons comic project, he concluded that Watchmen initially WAS intended to be DCU-proper.

It's fairly-common knowledge (amongst fans) that, when Moore pitched Watchmen to DC, he wanted to use characters the company recently had acquired from Charlton Comics: The Question, Peacemaker, Nightshade, Blue (Ted Kord) Beetle, Captain Atom, and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt. DC nixed that idea, realizing, according to Moore, that "their expensive characters would end up either dead or dysfunctional."

So Moore & Gibbons created new characters inspired by Charlton's. But blogger Morse took the opportunity this week to theorize about what might have been, since a DCU-based Watchmen story would have affected continuity significantly. In Morse's alternate timeline, Blue Beetle wouldn't be a JLI veteran, Nightshade might've missed recruitment by Suicide Squad, and Checkmate would have been forced to make due without Peacemaker -- who would, of course, have been murdered by Peter Cannon way back in '85. With powers putting him on-par with the Spectre, Nathaniel Adam would find himself just too damn godlike to interact regularly with other superheroes. Oh, and Renee Montoya would not have assumed the mantle of The Question at the close of the maxiseries 52 a few years ago.

But that's not what happened, and the stars of director Zach Snyder's epic movie are the only costumed heroes in their universe. Perhaps the characters' lack of mainstream recognition has, in part, inspired the glut of tie-in merchandise flooding stores now. Still, Cool Kids discovered (or rediscovered) that Watchmen-themed "stuff" goes back almost as far as the book's initial publication. Surfing eBay, Rickey happened on old Watchmen watches and RPG materials (books, posters and mini-figure sets) that now are fetching more than $100 per item.

There's little doubt that such prices will climb even higher if enough people are watching the Watchmen when they invade theaters nationwide this weekend.
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The Cool Kids Table