Before Watchmen is a series of comic books published by DC Comics in 2012. Acting as a prequel to the 1986 12-issue Watchmen limited series by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, the project consists of eight limited series and an epilogue one-shot.
Moore stated in 1985 that if the Watchmen limited series was well-received, he and Gibbons would possibly create a 12-issue prequel series called Minutemen featuring the 1940s superhero group from the story. DC offered Moore and Gibbons chances to publish prequels to the series, such as Rorschach's Journal or The Comedian's Vietnam War Diary, as well as hinting at the possibility of other authors using the same universe. Tales of the Comedian's Vietnam War experiences were floated because The 'Nam was popular at the time, while another suggestion was, according to Gibbons, for a "Nite Owl/Rorschach team" (in the manner of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)). Neither man felt the stories would have gone anywhere, with Moore particularly adamant that DC not go forward with stories by other individuals. Gibbons was more attracted to the idea of a Minutemen series, because it would have "[paid] homage to the simplicity and unsophisticated nature of Golden Age comic books—with the added dramatic interest that it would be a story whose conclusion is already known. It would be, perhaps, interesting to see how we got to the conclusion."
In 2010, Moore told Wired that DC offered him the rights to Watchmen" back earlier that week, if he would agree to prequel and sequel projects. Moore said that "if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked ... But these days I don't want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don't want it back under those kinds of terms." DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee responded, "DC Comics would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves."
Announcement and publication
Following months of rumors about a potential Watchmen follow-up project, in February 2012 DC announced it was publishing seven prequel limited series under the "Before Watchmen" banner: Rorschach, Minutemen, Dr. Manhattan, Comedian, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Ozymandias. Among the creators involved are writers J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, and Len Wein, and artists Lee Bermejo, J. G. Jones, Adam Hughes, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, and Amanda Conner. Each issue will featured an installment of the backup series "Curse of the Crimson Corsair", written by Len Wein and featuring art by original Watchmen colorist John Higgins, and the project will conclude with a Before Watchmen: Epilogue one-shot. Each of the seven limited series will have from four to six issues, with thirty-five issues (including the epilogue) in total across the series. Gibbons stated, "The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire."
Moore criticized the project, calling it "completely shameless", and stated he was not interested in monetary compensation, but rather “What I want is for this not to happen.”
On August 25, 2012, DC announced that the Before Watchmen prequel will be extended with a two-part Moloch miniseries, with J. Michael Straczynski writing and artwork by Eduardo Risso.
288 pages Harcover:
Date: July 2, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1401238926 Paperback:
Date: June 10, 2014
The controversial, long-awaited prequels to the best-selling graphic novel of all-time are finally here: BEFORE WATCHMEN! For over twenty years, the back stories of the now-iconic characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's landmark graphic novel had been the subject of much debate and theorizing. Now, DC Comics has assembled the greatest creators in the industry to further paint the world of WATCHMEN, starting with this first volume starring MINUTEMEN and SILK SPECTRE
The critically acclaimed and Eisner Award-winning creator of DC: THE NEW FRONTIER Darwyn Cooke lends his talents MINUTEMEN. As the predecessor to the Watchmen, the Minutemen were assembled to fight against a world that have more and more rapidly begun to spin out of control. Can these heroes from completely different backgrounds and with completely different attitudes on crime come together? Or will they fall apart before they begin?
SILK SPECTRE takes an introspective look at the WATCHMEN feature player's struggles with her overbearing superhero mother and her scattered path toward taking the mantle of the Silk Spectre. With gorgeous art by co-writer and illustrator Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL, The Pro), SILK SPECTRE takes a very different perspective at the world of BEFORE WATCHMEN.
Collects BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN 1-6 and BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE 1-4.
Before Watchmen : Comedian/Rorschach
256 pages Harcover:
Date: July 2013 Paperback:
Date: June 24, 2014
The controversial, long-awaited prequels to the best-selling graphic novel of all-time are finally here: Before Watchmen! For over twenty years, the back stories of the now iconic characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's landmark graphic novel have remained a mystery, until now. DC Comics has assembled the greatest creators in the industry to further paint the world of Watchmen, with this second volume starring two of the most polarizing anti-heroes ever, Comedian and Rorschach.
Eisner Award-winning writer and creator of 100 Bullets, Brian Azzarello brings his gritty, nuanced storytelling to these two recognizable characters. In Rorschach, Azzarello again teams with superstar artist Lee Bermejo (Joker, Luthor, Batman/Deathblow) to illustrate how one of most dangerous vigilantes the comic world has ever seen became even darker. Comedian, featuring art by J.G. Jones (Final Crisis, Wanted), plants the famed war hero within the context of American history, as we find out how the Vietnam War and the Kennedy assassination revolve around him.
Collects Before Watchmen: Comedian 1-6 and Before Watchmen: Rorschach 1-4.
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan Deluxe Edition
288 pages Hardcover:
Date: July 16, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1401238940 Paperback:
Date: June 24, 2014
Discover what happened before WATCHMEN as writer J. Michael Straczynski is joined by Andy Kubert and the legendary Joe Kubert to take flight with the gadget-savvy vigilante known as Nite Owl! And then in BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN, JMS teams with fan-favorite artist Adam Hughes on the all-powerful super-man Dr. Manhattan. For Dr. Manhattan, past, present, and future are one and the same. But as he observes the events of his life, do they remain the same? Or are they changed? The very fact of his existence may have altered the nature of what will or will not be...
Collects BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL #1-4 and BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN #1-4.
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair
256 pages Harcover:
Date: July 2, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1401238957 Paperback:
Date: July 1, 2014
Discover what happened before WATCHMEN. The team of legendary writer Len Wein and acclaimed artist Jae Lee--in his first DC Comics' work in nearly a decade--delve into the mind of the smartest man in the world: Ozymandias. How does one go from the son of immigrant parents to becoming the world's smartest man? Adrian Veidt begins his journey, both spiritual and physical, that will one day make him one of the most pivotal players in the world-changing events of WATCHMEN.
Collects BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #1-6, "Curse of the Crimson Corsair."
Before Watchmen Omnibus
Date: December 24, 2018
Takes a look at the world before the critically acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen, by some of comics' top talents, including Eisner Award-winning authors Brian Azzarello and Darwyn Cooke, multi-award winning authors Len Wein and Michael Straczynski. With art from Joe Kubert, Amanda Conner, J.G. Jones, Lee Bermejo, Adam Hughes, Jae Lee and John Higgins.
Dive deeper into the world of Watchmen by following the famous characters around in their own solo stories. Witness Rorschach's story to see how one of the most dangerous vigilantes in the comics world started down his dark path. Find out how the Vietnam War and the Kennedy assassination revolve around the Comedian. Take an introspective look at Silk Spectre as she struggles with her overbearing superhero mother and her scattered path toward taking the mantle of the Silk Spectre.
Find all of this and more when you discover what happened before Watchmen in Before Watchmen Omnibus. Collects Before Watchmen: Comedian #1-6, Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1-4, Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1-6, Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1-4, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1-4, Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1-4, Before Watchmen: Moloch #1-2, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1-6, Before Watchmen: Crimson Corsair #1 and Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1.