From September 1986 until October 1987, DC Comics published its 12-issue maxi series titled Watchmen. The comic book was written by Alan Moore, a true comic book legend, and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Watchmen was a truly gritty superhero story that quickly became a piece of history. Today, the comic book and its story are considered to be true masterpieces and Moore’s comic is arguably the best comic book ever written. In today’s article, I am going to discuss the legacy of the comic book and whether it has a continuation or not.
The story of Watchmen is a self-contained standalone story conceived by Alan Moore and there was no need for its continuation since it was imagined as a standalone maxiseries. On top of that, Alan Moore is a writer that doesn’t really like sequels all that much.
In today’s article, I am going to explain why Watchmen is considered to be a standalone story, despite the fact that it has both a prequel series and a standalone sequel. You’re also going to find out why Moore never continued the series so get yourselves ready and enjoy!
How many Watchmen comics are there?
As far as the main story is concerned, Watchmen is a standalone maxiseries that was published between 1986 and 1987. It contained a total of 12 issues and was subsequently collected into a unique volume on several occasions. Watchmen received several awards and it is, by most, considered to be the best comic book ever written. This is how DC Comics describes its famous comic:
“In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the Cold War is in full effect!
Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy. As the resolution comes to a head, the unlikely group of reunited heroes–Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias–have to test the limits of their convictions and ask themselves where the true line is between good and evil.”
Watchmen was a medium-changing story, on par with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and is certainly one of the comic books that launched the Modern Age of Comic Books. It was, mostly, thanks to Alan Moore and Frank Miller that we got to and still can enjoy darker and deeper comic book stories with true substance and real-life implications.
But, unlike Miller, who would go on to continue his Earth-31 stories about The Dark Knight, Alan Moore never continued his story after finishing it and that is why there are no more Watchmen comics. Well, at least no direct sequels and no stories written by Alan Moore himself. Let me explain.
Are there any prequels or sequels to Watchmen?
And while I keep stating that Watchmen is a standalone maxiseries, the facts aren’t completely in harmony with that statement. Namely, Watchmen has both a prequel series and a sequel, although neither of them was written by Alan Moore. They are more a way for DC Comics to expand the lore and, in the case of the sequel, a way of integrating Watchmen with the larger DC fictional universe.
As far as the prequels are concerned, back in 1985, Alan Moore stated that if Watchmen was received well, he and Gibbons would write another 12-issue prequel series titled Minutemen. Due to different creative reasons and differences in perception, the Minutemen never came to be and talks of a prequel series stopped for a good 27 years.
Although Moore opposed the idea of a prequel series, DC Comics nevertheless published, in 2012, a 7-issue prequel series titled Before Watchmen, which chronicles the lives and careers of Moore’s characters before the Watchmen storyline. DC advertised the series as follows (taken from the Before Watchmen Omnibus edition):
“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.”
And this wasn’t the end, actually. In 2017, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank authored a standalone sequel to Watchmen, titled Doomsday Clock. This 12-issue series was published from 2017 to 2019, and was an indirect sequel to Moore’s original comic book that had little to do with the original story, but used the same characters and integrated them with DC’s other heroes and worlds. It was advertised as follows (taken from the cover of the collected edition):
“Dr. Manhattan, a near-omnipotent being from the Watchmen universe, has been using his powers to rewrite the DC Universe–reshaping some heroes’ histories, erasing other heroes altogether, and playing with the fates of the good and evil alike.
But why? What does a godlike being from another world stand to gain from the DC Universe? The mystery remains, but now that our heroes know they’re being toyed with, what can they do to stop it? The clock is ticking…”
And this is the story of the prequel and sequel to Moore’s Watchmen. As you can see, they are connected to the main story, but they actually don’t have much to do with Moore’s original idea.
Why are there no more Watchmen comics?
If you, as I do, disregard the fact that the characters from Moore’s graphic novel have appeared in other publications, the original story of Watchmen has no continuation whatsoever. Why?
First of all, the story itself was completed. Moore had an idea and he completed it. He told it from start to finish and in his vision, Watchmen was done. He had a prequel idea for the Minutemen, but that would have been different from Watchmen.
Secondly, Alan Moore is really not a fan of sequels when you look at his career. Sure, was different when he worked for DC back in the 1980s, but he was always a maverick and the idea of a sequel doesn’t really sit well with him, when you look at the big picture.
This is probably why we never saw a sequel to Watchmen, at least a direct one, and I personally think its for the best.