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Blog: Versions Of Watchmen

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Ironically, since starting a PhD in COMICS, I have read a lot less COMICS than I used to. Well, for fun anyway - I'm still doing my Marvel Age Doom blog going through EVERY appearance of Doctor Doom from 1961 to 1987 (back this week with some EXCITING stories!), and that involves reading a LOT of comics, but they're not always hugely FUN, and that doesn't leave a whole heap of time for reading just for the sheer HECK of it.

That means that I've missed quite a few comics that I'd really like to have had a look at, one of which was Kieron Gillen's "Peter Cannon Thunderbolt" series. I must admit that in the past I've been a bit off and on with his stuff, as it often felt like I didn't know enough about what he was on about to fully appreciate the stories he was writing (e.g. I like Kenickie but don't really care about DJing, so lots of Phonogram passed me by), but this appealed to me because it was apparently about/an answer to/a sequel to WATCHMEN, which I have read approx 7,000 times. SO, when I saw that it was available on Comixology for 69p an issue over Christmas I LEAPT at the chance to read it.

COR! I was REALLY glad that I did! I spent half of boxing day reading through the whole thing, then RE-reading it, then reading his writer's commentary, then forcing myself to go to BED rather than read it all AGANE. It was GRATE!

It is INDEED an answer to/analysis of Watchmen, using analogue characters and EXTREMELY CHEEKY quotations, visual and textual, to make points not just about the original series but also the other (rarely mentioned) series that influenced it, the influences it has had itself and the responses to it since it came out, and also where comics might go next. It manages to do this whilst also being EXCITING and FUNNY, with regular chunks where I LARFED out loud at how VERY CLEVER it was being, and also somewhat NAUGHTY. There's a bit which directly quotes Watchmen Issue 1 page 6 (Rorschach climbing through the window) that is simultaneously a SIGHT GAG, a statement on what's happening in the story, and ALSO a commentary on how the original is not necessarily as FORMALIST as we think it is. I'm probably making it sound dead po-faced and annoying, but honest, it is GRATE.

A few days later I also BINGED the TV series "Watchmen", which was also dead good and Thought Provoking, but not in the same way. The first few episodes were AMAZING, partly because of the excellent job it did working out how the world might have moved on, but mostly because of the THEMES it was dealing with. I'm sorry to say I'd never even HEARD of The Black Wall Street Massacre, but the way it looked at race was something I certainly had not expected and thought was dead good. As with Peter Cannon, I also appreciated the constant NUDGES towards the original, with certain phrases repeating and images popping up, although it did get to the point that, when they went to a graveyard I was looking out for The Angel from the cover of issue 2, and cheered when I saw it.

As everybody else in the world has said, it did tail off a bit towards the end, and finding out that EVERYBODY was somehow related to everybody else and It Was All A Scheme was a bit much, but I did VERY MUCH appreciate the fact that having a final episode that goes VERY MUCH off the rails and drives FULL STEAM into LUDICROUSNESS was a clear and intentional tribute to the original, which did exactly the same thing.

What I think I'm saying is that if you've have read "Watchmen" and would like someone's idea of what might happen next, give the TV series a go. If you've read "Watchmen" a LOT and would like someone's idea of how it works, what it means for comics, and how it might be developed differently, but with jokes, read "Peter Cannon". And if you haven't read "Watchman" at all, give it a go, it's pretty good too!

posted 16/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett

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