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Ben H

In Reply To

Subj: An Alan Moore quote that Marvel could have kept in mind when writing Civil War
Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 at 11:14:30 am EDT
Reply Subj: Could a Black Knight series work in the same way Iron Fist is working?
Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 at 02:28:41 pm EDT (Viewed 1 times)

Here is Alan Moore commenting on how Watchmen was originally going to feature the Charlton characters (Question, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, etc) that DC had recently acquired, but how the decision was eventually made to instead feature new characters that drew some inspiration from the pre-existing ones:

"Something like that, and I forget the details—it was such a long time ago—but I remember that at some point, we heard from Dick [Giordano] that yes, he liked the proposal, but he didn't really want to use the Charlton characters, because the proposal would've left a lot of them in bad shape, and DC couldn't have really used them again after what we were going to do to them without detracting from the power of what it was that we were planning.

"If we had used the Charlton characters in Watchmen, after #12, even though the Captain Atom character would've still been alive, DC couldn't really have done a comic book about that character without taking away from what became Watchmen. So, at first, I didn't think we could do the book with simply characters that were made-up, because I thought that would lose all of the emotional resonance those characters had for the reader, which I thought was an important part of the book. Eventually, I realized that if I wrote the substitute characters well enough, so that they seemed familiar in certain ways, certain aspects of them brought back a kind of generic super-hero resonance or familiarity to the reader, then it might work."

I really, really wish that Marvel had thought along these lines when it came to planning out Civil War.

The specific comment by Moore "the proposal would've left a lot of them in bad shape, and DC couldn't have really used them again after what we were going to do to them" certainly could apply to the state of many Marvel characters in the wake of Civil War.

Imagine if Marvel had done Civil War as an out-of-continuity miniseries featuring analogues for Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. We, the readers, would have known who they were intended to represent, yet this would have freed up the writers to take the characters in all sorts of unexpected directions, without permanently affecting the characters who Marvel would still publish in their ongoing monthly titles.

As it is, though, Marvel did not do that. And so we had Cap acting like Timothy McVeigh, Iron Man becoming a manipulative fascist, and Spider-Man revealing his identity to the public, among other things. And when the miniseries was over, they were all left "in bad shape," something that is going to have long-term consequences to the characters for the forseeable future.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that Alan Moore's approach was the right one. Civil War really demonstrates that it is difficult to have a Watchmen-like storyline that is set firmly in an ongoing, open-ended superhero universe.

Just my opinion, of course.

Ben H

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