WATCHMEN DELUXE EDITION HARDCOVER (In stores June 4)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Whether you should buy this latest rerelease of WATCHMEN really depends on your level of fandom for the source material. WATCHMEN was my very first foray into DC. This book along with DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and CRISIS are tinted with the same Technicolor prism from those years as my first kiss and first writing award – they are a physical tether to an emotional state long forgotten. I learned quickly the value of WATCHMEN both as a game-changer for comics as well as monetarily when I went to my first comic show. There in front of me, this book I paid little more than a dollar for a few weeks prior was now being hocked by balding men with moobs and cheap cologne for 500% more than cover price. I immediately went home, slipped issue 1 into mylar and never opened it again – likewise with issue 2-12 – one read and then into protection. It wasn’t until the TPB came out that I once again traversed this tale – a ritual I would then continue every year after.
My TPB’s of both WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS twenty years later look like they belonged to a retarded bear. The binding is split, the covers tattered (if there at all) and each page has an indelible moment of carelessness from the story of my life (I even found a dime bag in one of them from back when my long boxes served as the last place my parents would look for anything – little tip, let sleeping weed lie). WATCHMEN not only defied convention, it defined my comic existence. So it is a hearty “hells yes” I give to this deluxe edition for the simple virtue of posterity. The added materials at the end are simply a wonderful wonderful bonus.
And it’s with these bonuses that I would say there’s value for new readers as well with WATCHMEN DELUXE EDITION. Let me clarify, there’s value to new readers who truly love the history of comics. I understand that these cherub faced readers have grown in a time when the darkening of the heroic soul is a norm as opposed to exception. I understand they won’t get the cultural resonance of Richard Nixon still in office, the cold war taken to hyperbole or the WOW factor of seeing the psychological damage of being a hero. However, to traverse the bonus material of the WATCHMEN DELUXE EDITION will set anyone straight on how much care and deliberation went into making this a game changer for the entire industry.
So what is the bonus material I’ve teed up with probably too much exposition? It’s basically the stuff that Mellinials will no doubt scoff at in this age of open exposure via Twitter and need for inside content to fill the blog machine for SEM purposes. Back in the day though, the time before the Internet consumed our lives there were very little venues to peer into the minds of creators, the time before every facet of the creation process had an indelible digital record – this material was unattainable and therefore priceless today.
- A letter from Gibbons on the thought process behind the then ground-breaking covers. You can see what a grand-master Gibbons was simply by the nominal changes from rough pencils to finished production.
- The methodology behind the meticulous patterns of the panel layouts
- The notes that built this slight alternative to actual history on how the world should be changed to fit.
- The notes on each character and how the pastiche would be different, the undercurrent of sadness that would result from characters like The Atom or The Question being real people.
- A hand written note from Neil Gaiman simply agog at what he had just witnessed in rough cut form.
There’s more…plenty more covers, sketches and insight. Hell, there’s even a page outlying the methodology behind the lettering.
WATCHMEN was a cultural touchstone. Whether it ushered in the “Dark Age” or was simply a byproduct doesn’t really matter in hindsight, after all the world changed no matter if this was chicken or egg. What I appreciated was the careful time and deliberation that went into this piece. A painstaking carefulness for every facet that seems lost in today’s churn and burn to beat the competition on quantity versus quality. WATCHMEN THE DELUXE EDITION is a harken back to a heyday we probably won’t see again – at least not in the form in once took. If you’ve never read WATCHMEN, this is an indelible and cost effective way to do so. If you love WATCHMEN and comics like I do, this is probably the deepest dive one can take.