It is often said that Watchmen is the most influential comic ever to be released. That comics wouldn’t be where they are without it, for good and for ill. But how did we get here, exactly? More to the point, just what influence did Watchmen provide to the larger world of comics? What, ultimately, is the legacy of Watchmen? Who watched the Watchmen?
Marvel Comics certainly didn’t seem to be watching the Watchmen. Despite the massive critical and commercial success of DC Comics’ twelve issue Watchmen, creators at Marvel largely let the series go by without comment, at least in terms of trying to imitate it directly. While the tradition of the two companies riffing on a successful idea started by the other (such as DC launching the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths in the wake of the success of Marvel’s Secret Wars) is a longstanding one, no “Watchmen-esque” series appeared at Marvel in the late 80s or early 90s. Some of that is likely due to the different way the companies are structured. Watchmen was born at least in part out of DC’s acquisition of the Charlton Comics characters, continuing another longstanding DC Comics tradition.
However, Marvel had never really engaged in that practice. All of its biggest characters were homegrown. And while Marvel had its Epic imprint as a place to tell out-of-continuity stories free of the restraints of the comics code limitations on content, those series tended to be like Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar or English-language reprints of Akira: driven by specific creators and/or focused on something other than superheroes. Yet despite the lack of a specific story-arc or series that can be pointed to as “Marvel’s Watchmen”, the outsized influence of that series would still find a way to be reflected in Marvel Comics, albeit in a roundabout way. [Read more…] about Who Watched the Watchmen? How “Heroes Reborn” Brought Watchmen to the Marvel Universe