Comics Creepshow 30: After Watchmen?
I am going to tweak a phrase that has been completely overused recently:
Who will be watching the “Watchmen”?
The promotions department at DC Comics is hoping that you will be, along with millions of other sometime comic book fans. They are also hoping that once you are done with Zack Snyder’s panel for panel adaptation, you will get the impulse to visit your LCS (Local Comic Store in geek speak) and pick up a few of DC’s other high brow comics. To coincide with the film debut of “Watchmen”, DC is putting together a promotional event - AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?
The first issues of five different titles - TRANSMETROPOLITAN, PLANETARY, PREACHER, SWAMP THING, and INFINITE CRISIS - are going to be re-released, and here’s the kicker - each issue will only cost a dollar! Luckily for you guys, I have read the entire run on each of these books, and I know which ones you should spend your time and moolah on. For those of you straight up horror fans, you can’t go wrong with either SWAMP THING or PREACHER.
SWAMP THING: If “Watchmen” is your cup of tea, then it’s very likely that you also enjoyed “V for Vendetta”, “Constantine” and “From Hell”. Any idea what connects these four films? They are all based on comics written by Alan Moore. SWAMP THING is where British scribe, Moore, cut his teeth at re-imagining American comic book characters.
In his first story arc, Moore actually had Swamp Thing shot to death by members of the Sunderland Corporation. His killers then had him dissected, just to see what made the green giant tick. In the issue dealing with the actual dissection, Moore used a storytelling structure that could be found in both short stories written by Lovecraft as well as some of the early EC comics. He told the story from the point of view of the doctor getting himself so involved with the supernatural, in this case Swamp Thing’s autopsy, that it eventually leads to his downfall.
As the doctor literally digs deeper and deeper into the mystery of Swamp Thing’s origin, the doctor starts to lose his grip on reality. Just as a Lovecraftian protagonist would, the doctor experiences a revelation right before he completely loses his mind. Through his findings, he realizes that Swamp Thing was never a human scientist, but instead is an elemental monster that comes from a long line of creatures that protect the plant life on Earth.
Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING was the first mainstream DC comic to abandon the comics code (a rather silly set of rules that stated whether a comic was suitable for children to read or not) and be written for adults only. This eventually lead to the creation of DC’s Vertigo line, which published many blockbuster comic books, such as…
PREACHER: If you thought that the images from the movie “Inside” or from “Cannibal Holocaust” were some of the most disturbing you have ever seen, then you haven’t looked inside of a comic scripted by Garth Ennis yet. Throughout the seventy five issues of PREACHER, you will find a boy named Arseface, who tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the face, and failed ; you will find a man who owns a meat packing company, who likes to have intimate relationships with women that he has made out of piles of various meats ; last, but not least, you will find the mentally retarded, perverted descendant of Jesus Christ. PREACHER is Ennis’ crowning achievement in both its ability to shock readers and the consistently high quality featured throughout its long run.
PREACHER follows the story of Jesse Cutter, who is a former Texas preacher that happens to be possessed by the offspring of a demon and an angel. When the actual possession takes place, Jesse is in the middle of giving a sermon. When the offspring, known as Genesis, enters into Jesse’s body, it sends out a backlash that obliterates the congregation that Jesse is preaching to and levels his church. Jesse is then forced to go on the run, to avoid both the police as well as various secret religious groups that want to use Jesse and the power that Genesis gives him. Jesse is not alone, however. He is accompanied by his ex-girlfriend, Tulip and the junkie vampire, Cassidy.
PREACHER may be depraved, but it features an incredibly thought out commentary on religion and one of the most realistic friendships I have ever read about (between Jesse and Cassidy). Now, just for one dollar, you can see what all the fuss is about.
If you enjoyed “Watchmen”, I strongly suggest you read the graphic novel. After seeing the film version, at the advanced midnight screening, I can safely use the cliché, “the book is far better than the film”. Then, once you are finished with the original form of WATCHMEN, you really should plop down five dollars for these five books. You may find yourself wanting to spend more time and money at your LCS than at your local movie theater.