Sunday, June 19, 2016
What exactly is the controversy with DC Comics using The Watchmen as an element of their latest reborn-rebooted-revised-rehashed DC Universe. If you don't appreciate the "purity" of The Watchmen franchise being sullied by association with mere superheroes, then okay. Get mad, don't buy any of those issues and re-read the original story yet again and savor an excellent bit of storytelling. But why the outrage?
Many seem to suggest it's immoral for DC to use these characters as they desire. I'm not aware they need the permission of the creators to do with these characters as they desire, they own them, but they have been gracious in the past and asked both Moore and Gibbons to weigh in on any future plans. The characters have proven to be successful, so it's obvious why DC wants to market them, it's the nature of business. From what I can gather DC has lived up their side of the bargain struck many decades ago with Moore and Gibbons. That the deal didn't work out exactly like Moore anticipated is not DC's fault. The flaw in Moore's reasoning is that The Watchmen proved to be more successful than anticipated. Shucks what a problem to have since Moore gets a cut of all sales.
Let me be clear. Comic book creators in the past have been royally screwed by comic book companies and famously so. Characters worth millions if not billions have been harvested and their creators have gotten little if any recompense for their dutiful and diligent effort. Companies screw people all the damn time, it's one of the more repulsive aspects to the celebrated capitalism everyone gets giddy about when the stock market tickers start buzzing. Winners and losers, part of the great game, and at least part of the target of the story told by Moore and Gibbons in their remarkable adventure.
But that said, Moore and Gibbons are not among those creators who have been screwed. They were lucky enough to come along when contracts were more fair if not ideal and they have reaped significant profit from their efforts, and Moore could've have gotten much more if he'd been more agreeable to what plans the publisher might've had. He's entitled to believe what he wants, but no one can say he's been screwed out of any money. And it's rich that folks suggest Moore of all creators is a victim of this kind of pilfering since he's made a sizeable portion of his post-Watchmen career scraping out the enormous bins of the public domain and using characters and situations originally developed by such giants as Verne, Rohmer, Baum, Stevenson, Dickens, Wells, Haggard, among countless others. I don't condemn him for these borrowings, I just find it rich that he is put up as a victim when he's a pilferer just like so many of us can be.
Now DC has incorporated The Watchmen into the broader DCU. So what? Why is everyone outraged? God, people get over it already. DC wants to sell comics and they've been rather poor at it in recent years despite making every effort to entice folks to drop five bucks for a slender slick and quickly consumed comic (could that be the problem). If they want to forestall their inevitable doom by using all the tools they have then so be it. There's nothing in the arrangement with Moore and Gibbons that suggests they cannot do it that I'm aware of.
So folks might think it's a bankrupt move creatively, but I cannot for the life of me get why folks think it's immoral. The Watchmen were hatched on the bones of characters from Charlton and elsewhere. Steve Ditko, Pete Morisi, Pat Boyette, Jim Aparo, and Joe Gill get no cut of the profits when characters clearly inspired by their stories featuring Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Thunderbolt, and the Question. Gibbons and Moore cobbled "new" heroes on the heap of the classics and made a damn fine comic. Great! They cut a dandy deal with DC for a piece of the action. Fantastic! Where's the particular and distinctive immorality on DC's part here?
Help me to understand.