Saturday, June 04, 2016

RE: Watchmen's Integration to the DC Universe

Though they’re not as controversial as Captain America being retconned as a Hydra sleeper agent, DC Rebirth’s revelations are nonetheless significantly surprising.  And the biggest shock is of course the impending integration of the Watchmen into the main DC continuity.

But not only are the Watchmen joining the DC Universe, it seems that Dr. Manhattan is the one responsible for the New 52 reboot, and the connotation is that the Watchmen (or at least Dr. Manhattan) will enter the DCU as villains!

This is insane in so many levels!

First of all, even though DC Comics owns Watchmen, its universe is something I’ve grown to consider as something outside the scope of DC’s multiverse.  So to me, it’s just like having the X-Men join the DCU.  Also, its premise and essence are incompatible with any other comic book continuity; and that it’s a complete story already, which doesn’t need to be revisited or continued.   In addition, it’s not only one of the greatest comics ever made, but it’s also considered as a literary classic.  Thus, even though crossovers are a staple in comics, I can’t imagine it happening with Watchmen.  The thought of bringing the Watchmen to the DC Universe is like bringing Citizen Kane into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.   They’re great on their own, but they don’t mesh well.  Having Charles Foster Kane meet the Avengers is just awkward and bizarre.

With these sentiments in mind, it’s understandable why there’s a part of me that’s upset and slightly revolted about it.  True, it’s possible for something awesome to come out of it.  Example, just imagine how epic a team up between Batman, Midnighter, and Rorschach would be.  But of course – just like with SpOck at some point – no matter how kickass it may get, it’s still an atrocity in a quintessential sense.

However, on the other hand, there’s also a part of me that find something brilliant about it.  Watchmen (along with Frank Miller’s handling of Batman) introduced the concept of dark-and-gritty superhero comics.  And since then, DC – whose intrinsic tone is generally defined as "Superman-y", i.e. bright and optimistic – has been subtly and gradually trying to Watchmen-ize its comics through the years, culminating towards Flashpoint and New 52.  Now, articulating this reality by using a comic book storyline as a metaphor – with Dr. Manhattan personifying the concept of dark, gritty, Watchmen-y superhero comics, and then making him directly responsible for the dark turn in the DC Universe as brought by the New 52 reboot – is extremely clever.

Which bring us to these questions: Does this mean that the actual intent of Watchmen’s participation in Rebirth is to ironically de-Watchmen-ize the DCU?  Is bringing back the bright and optimistic tone to the DCU Rebirth’s ultimate purpose?
Is that why there are smiles on everyone in Rebirth's splash page?
It’s indeed pretty ambitious.  It could either become an epic failure, or could end up being a genius move.  Either way, this is a groundbreaking development in comics, and thus, is worth keeping an eye on.

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