Is it Watchmen's fault that Captain America is a Nazi?
That's the strange question I found myself asking after the last month's developments in superhero comics. Thirty years after Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen made its debut, the characters are being integrated into the DC Universe as part of the current DC Rebirth publishing initiative, seemingly as totems of the sort of superhero grimnness that Rebirth hopes to move away from. Meanwhile, at Marvel, the publisher's most principled hero has been retconned as a secret agent of a far-right hate group, at a time when a vocal segment of the audience wants to see a lot more love than hate in the character's life.
Both developments are indicative of a tension at the heart of superhero comics. Thirty years after Watchmen, is it time to stop pointing out that heroes can have flaws, and time instead to acknowledge that heroes can have value?
Stories set in an alternate history or reality are built from a "point of divergence," a moment at which the fictional reality veers off from our own. Germany wins World War II, Kennedy survives the assassination attempt, etc. In Watchmen that point comes in 1938. Shortly after the publication of Action Comics #1, costumed heroes begin appearing in the real world, the "factual black and white of the headlines," as Hollis Mason puts it, and history changes course.
In our reality, comics books experienced their own point of divergence on June 5, 1986, with the debut of the first issue of Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. Ever since then, the entire medium has been permanently altered by its startling vision and precise execution.
DC Comics’ big summer event one-shot DC Universe: Rebirth #1 goes on sale this week, and the internet is abuzz with news, reveals and spoilers concerning one of the biggest comics of the year. The one-shot by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Gary Frank and Ivan Reis sees the return of familiar faces from inside and outside the DC Universe, and DC is already publicizing those revelations in the press, so we’ve rounded up the biggest developments from this blockbuster story from DC-approved sources like USA Today, IGN and CBR, for those readers who want the full rundown.
If you don't want to be spoiled for any of the events of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 before the book comes out on Wednesday, go learn about some other comics you could be reading instead. Spoilers for the future of the DC Universe follow.
Dave Gibbons, born on this day in 1949, has spent over forty-five years in the comics industry and crafted a career without equal. Known for his masterful layouts and exceptional character acting, Gibbons has been an ambassador for the UK comics scene around the world, and is truly a living legend in the industry.
Born today in 1953 in Northampton, England, Alan Moore grew up to be a giant. His impact on comics is so vital and apparent that even reporting on his accomplishments feels both daunting and profoundly unnecessary. Widely regarded as the best comics writer of all time, Moore's influence is without question; his presence an articulate line of demarcation carving up the medium into two decidedly different eras. Moore is a juggernaut, monolithic in both influence and intractability, with a true legacy even greater than his supposed one.
Somewhere, Alan Moore’s beard is tingling. Zack Snyder’s cinematic adaptation of the iconic Watchmen comics by Moore and Dave Gibbons divided fans, some sticking with assertions of the source material as “unfilmable,” others acknowledging the film’s effort. That conflict may end up sparked anew, now that Snyder has reportedly met with HBO for a Watchmen TV series.
This week saw the release of the Multiversity Guidebook, a sort of map for a series of one-shot stories that has inspired a lot of contemplation, examination and confusion among comic fans.
To offer an even deeper look into the universe-spanning series and its meaning, ComicsAlliance spoke with writer Grant Morrison about everything we could manage in half an hour: where the idea for The Gentry comes from, Morrison's commentary on Watchmen in Pax Americana, the idea of dangerous knowledge, how these seemingly standalone stories tie together, and just how this sprawling project will wrap up.
This is a fun clip. It’s from a recent appearance from actor, comedian, and author Patton Oswalt (whose new book, ‘Silver Screen Fiend,’ all about his obsession with movies, will probably be of great interest to ScreenCrush readers) at the WORD Bookstore in Jersey City, where he did a public conversation with actor Patrick Wilson. Oswalt is a hardcore comic-book nerd in addition to his passion for film, and Wilson starred in one of the most polarizing comic-book adaptations of all time, Zack Snyder’s slavishly faithful version of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ ‘Watchmen.’ When a fan asked a question about the movie, both Oswalt and Wilson shared their honest feelings about the project, which you can watch above.
The fourth issue of the series, Pax Americana with art by Frank Quitely, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Rob Leigh, is probably the most widely anticipated of the series, and certainly the most-hyped. It's Morrison's attempt to update and revise the structure of Watchmen, but applied to the original Charlton characters, as that Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons work was originally intended to in its first pitch. While Watchmen followed a strict nine-panel grid structure (some panels would be bisected or extended, but that was the general latticework on which everything hung), Pax Americana goes for eight, resembling not only harmonic octaves of music and colors of the rainbow that make up much of the multiversal structure Morrison is working with but also the "Algorithm 8" that allows President Harley to perceive the underpinning structure of the universe and use it to his advantage. That algorithm is, of course, the eight-panel grid (and the 8-shape made by one's eyes while reading the page) that forms the comic book universe he lives in.
The book moves backwards in eight color-coded sections, which I'll denote, that correspond to the evolutionary stages of humanity/a single person espoused by Don Beck and Chris Cowan's spiral dynamics, or, more specifically, Ken Wilber's later integral theory, which incorporated it. I'd never heard of it before this book, and from all research I've done there's a reason for that; it seems to be widely accepted as bunk pseudoscience by any academic institution, which makes it a perfect evolution of the original Question and Rorschach's stark black-and-white Randian Objectivism, while also tying into not only Pax's obsession with the number eight but its role in the Multiversity series as a whole, both due to the nature of music in octaves which makes up the structure of the DC multiverse as well as the colors of the rainbow that form the Source Wall.
Cosplay always goes mainstream at Halloween, with the witch and ghost and vampire costumes of yesteryear making way on the streets, and at parties and bars, for the sort of pop culture costumes we're more used to seeing at conventions. These days, everyone wants to be Iron Man. But a lot of comic fans take pride in going the extra mile at Halloween, and nowhere is that more true than at Toronto's annual Snailoween Party, organized by local retailer Silver Snail Comics. Cosplay photographer Paul Hillier was on the scene to capture some of the finest outfits of the night, and he's agreed to let us share them here at ComicsAlliance.
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