"As an alienated syn-man who was created by gamma rays, I find myself confused by mankind."
August 25, 2006 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Just Imagine Stan Lee's Watchmen! Back in 2002, DC Comics extended an olive branch of comics industry peace to Stan "Excelsior!" Lee, the founder of rival Marvel Comics. The result was the Just Imagine line, wherein we find several DCU heroes reimagined in one-shot comics as only Stan Lee could. Some titles were good. Some were okay. Most were just so. But never in a million issues would DC have let him take on Watchmen -- perhaps the most critically-acclaimed and analyzed series this side of Maus. So since Stan couldn't or wouldn't, Kevin Church has.
posted by grabbingsand (41 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Kevin's site is straining a bit, so here's a Coral Cache of the first part.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2006


I really like Just Imagine Flash's costume design.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:55 AM on August 25, 2006

Watchmen, also in pre-production as a movie by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead and 300)..
posted by HuronBob at 11:57 AM on August 25, 2006

I loved Watchmen. This, not so much.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:57 AM on August 25, 2006

Devils Advocate: Though in it;s time it had some neat tricks Watchmen is actually a little outdated these days, and isn't really Moores best work.

(Also any movie version will suck, but that's hardly controversial.)
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on August 25, 2006

This was very funny, though beating up Stan Lee always seems a little mean. I also liked the banner on the side of the site: "Grant Morrison just had sex with your wife. Three years in the future"
posted by blahblahblah at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2006

Heh. I thought this was pretty good, and part of that is because I love the old wordy and garbled Stan Lee. Excelsior, true believers!

I've tried to explain just what makes him so appealling, but my girlfriend just doesn't get it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2006

I found the whole "commies!" joke kind of long and pointless. And the last page, while decent, seems more like Jay Pinkerton's Watchmen than Stan Lee's.

At least Church has nailed the way that Stan Lee arbitrarily emphasizes random words in his dialogue.
posted by Iridic at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2006

Jay Jonah Junktown!
posted by stinkycheese at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2006

This is funny.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2006

Stan Lee actually seems to speak like that in real life...
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2006

Stan Lee is the Shatner of the industry.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2006

Stan Lee is the Shatner of the industry.

Explanation, please.
posted by yerfatma at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2006

Artw: You got some 'splainin to do. I guess I can imagine Watchmen being 'outdated' in the same way, say, Citizen Kane obviously did not come out last week. Other than that, I'd like to hear what you mean.
posted by zerolives at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2006

Yeah, Stan Lee writes diologue like carnies talk. As a warrior born conservative suburbanite, his profanity subtitutes truly infuriate me, Bah! But my battle hardened lawn mowing prowess tells me that Marvel seems to have serious problems with narrative and character explication anyway. Or so says Smedleyman!
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on August 25, 2006

Art has comics of his own.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:06 PM on August 25, 2006

zerolives - Watchmens big schtick was that it deconstructed
superhero comics. At the time that was terribly fresh and interesting but it's been done so many times since that it doesn't have much impact. Also the result of that deconstruction aren't terribly interesting: superheores like dressing up in costumes, maybe its some kind of sex thing? and the like.

Also by todays standards it's rather over-written.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2006

Stan Lee didn't found Marvel Comics. Martin Goodman did in 1939.

That Watchmen bit is pretty funny...
posted by Chris Brummel at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2006

(And no, my own feeble efforts don't really compare that well with Alan Moores.)
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on August 25, 2006

yerfatma: "Explanation, please."

Gotta have a little Shatner in anything. Like in The Incredibles when Mister Incredible runs towards the car then slows up just as he's getting in? Classic Shatner. Very T. J. Hooker. (yes I listen to dvd commentaries)

Or when the lead character in a film or tv show gets the special guest star babe of the episode ..just cuz. That's classic Shatner, man. Or whenever an actor starts to say a line, gets about two syllables into it, and then stops himself, not sure if he should inhale or exhale or just say the rest of the damn line? Then makes a face? Classic Shatner. Gotta have a little Shatner.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:26 PM on August 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have to disagree with you, Artw. For me, Watchmen's biggest schtick was that it pushed the formal possibilities of the comic book to their absolute limits. And, I, personally, found the results rather moving.

I'm not as big a fan of the book as Adam Cadre is, but his critique here puts forth the reasons that it appeals to me pretty well.
posted by Iridic at 1:26 PM on August 25, 2006

I wouldn’t equate the Watchmen with the Divine Comedy in terms of scope and depth, but it’s as near as a modern equivalent can get. I’d agree with the analogy between Joyce, Faulkner, et. al’s work and Watchmen.

From Iridic’s link:
“The creators of the "grim and gritty" comics that followed in Watchmen's wake are like 1960s musicians who declared, "The Beatles have revolutionized popular music! We must copy their haircuts!"”

Yep. Dead on.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2006

I lost my testicles fighting evillox , the evil villain with a THOUSAND villainous disguises of evil.
He RIPPED the suckers right out.

posted by sgt.serenity at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2006

As for Watchmen being outdated. The plot is very cold war and compared to today's troubled terrorist quagmire and how the eastern European countries don't want us to get involved but also can't decide how to do crap themsleves, Watchmen appears very naive and self-centered, as was (and still is) America itself. The symbolism and themes addressed in the comic book series were designed to work from a comic book. Although Moore purposefully stole many cinematic concepts from film in order to get his meaning across on paper, it won't carry over back into film very well. Not unless they spend many more millions of dollars than the film will probably make back.

Watchmen is also ultimately Moore fanwanking on the medium. It will never appeal to a wide enough audience to achieve mainstream status. Watchmen was a love poem to the superhero genre. It was Moore's successful attempt at distilling everything that makes the genre work into a cohesive, self-standing whole. If there were only one comic book series you could put into a time capsule for future generations, it'd be The Watchmen. They'd get the gist of what over fifty years of comic books have been striving to achieve. Moore and Gibbons pulled it off.

Watchmen is indeed the Citizen Kane of comics. The Moby Dick. The War and Peace. While Citizen Kane made a good film, it was made for film. Moby Dick rarely translates well to the big or little screen. On paper it's a struggle between man and nature. On film it's a crazy old raisin shooting at a fish.(1) I don't recall War and Peace ever successfully making it to film. There's probably a reason.

If Watchmen makes it into mainstream cinema successfully, it willl be because the film version won't look anything like the comic book. Either they'll bring the plotline into modern times, ignoring communism threats and replacing them with terrorism (which you can't do feasibly as the two threats are not remotely similar), or they won't let Rorschach be as crazy, or Doctor Manhattan won't be as blue. Something. In short: it's gonna suck.

As for the rest of it, Stan Lee is a living American treasure. 'Nuff said.


1. I know whales aren't fish. I was going for a visual of insignificance. Old men also aren't shrivelled grapes. Bite me.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2006

Watchmen, also in pre-production as a movie by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead and 300)..

Watchmen is not a movie. The scope, length and episodic structure of the story is integral. It makes no sense as a feature film (neither did From Hell and look what a stinker that was). Maybe a mini-series, but it would probably cost too much.

Of ocurse, I'm also one of three or so people who think Promethea is absolutely fantastic in every way...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2006

Stan Lee didn't found Marvel Comics.

I know. I just couldn't come up with a title for him that suited my purpose. The Venerable Holy See of Marvel, perhaps?
posted by grabbingsand at 2:12 PM on August 25, 2006

I think the importance of The Watchmen is the way it substituted Shades of Gray for the black and white morality typically found in comic books. The villain of the piece is the most human, best adjusted, and most consistently moral character in the book.
posted by Megafly at 3:07 PM on August 25, 2006

Thank you to everybody who liked my little comic remix thing.

To those who didn't: Excelsior! anyway.

As far as the commies joke: anyone who has ever read any early Iron Man or Thor knows how Stan loved to kick around the pinkos. I was just trying to show how myopic his view would feel when applied to the murky world of Watchmen.

Also: "Commie" is a funny word.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 3:17 PM on August 25, 2006

I'm in the middle of a reread of Watchmen.

Loving it again.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 3:26 PM on August 25, 2006

I'd heard of the funniest shit.

Now I have seen it.

This is the funniest shit.
posted by Wataki at 4:32 PM on August 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

"At least Church has nailed the way that Stan Lee arbitrarily emphasizes random words in his dialogue."

All Silver Age comics do that. It was mentioned in the intro to one of those DC collections (The Flash?) as something that editors thought would make comics easier to read, but didn't put enough thought into bolding the right words (it was also done to help sentences fit correctly into bubbles. Need a little extra space in that line? Make "said" bold).

"If Watchmen makes it into mainstream cinema successfully, it willl be because the film version won't look anything like the comic book."

Alan Moore has publicly said that he doesn't give a shit about the movies made from his books and is happy to just cash the checks. He considers 'em inferior from the giddyup, so what's the point in trying to work with the directors et al. to make them good movies?
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on August 25, 2006

...is happy to just cash the checks.

No, he doesn't take any money from them.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on August 25, 2006

I shudder at the thought of Watchmen being turned into a flick. No way in hell is that going to turn out right. There's a reason Moore has been keen to separate himself from all the film adaptations from his comics.
posted by liquorice at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2006

Watchmen the HBO series could be pretty awesome however.
posted by dig_duggler at 9:09 PM on August 25, 2006

Especially if you get The Comedian saying cocksucker all over the place.
posted by dig_duggler at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2006

Sweet sassy molassy!
posted by nightchrome at 9:58 PM on August 25, 2006

Of ocurse, I'm also one of three or so people who think Promethea is absolutely fantastic in every way...

I am the second of three people who thinks Promethea is fantastic in every way. I rescued hundreds of copies of it from various quarter bins and gave them away to non comics readers. I read from it at poetry readings, I gave it as holiday gifts, I printed out posters of the covers and slathered them all over the school's art department and I presented it in a university class about Magic, Science and Religion.

It moved me to act.

Also, if Promethea were to return, this is a likely candidate to serve as a vessel.

Finally, I want to punch this headline writer.
posted by JDC8 at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2006

Man, I enjoyed Promethea broadly, but it was another one of those works where I feel that the attempt by a man to write in a woman's voice, especially about sex, leads to less "real" sounding characters and more gender-bending wish-fulfillment. An intersting idea done in an OK way, but I'd still rather read Swamp Thing.
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2006

And with bits like "Satisfying your superhero jones can be tough when you're a comix snob like me. Finding a book with the right combination of highbrow intelligence and lowbrow kicks has gotten nearly impossible," Arnold loses me immediately. It's actually really easy to satisfy a superhero jones with good writing, it's just that EVERY FUCKING LEDE EVER about comics has to be "Did you know they're not just for subliterate perverts and 8-year-olds? It's true!"
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2006

Am I the only one who despised Dr. Manhattan? I mean, I didn't think it was actually possible to make a character less interesting / more arbitrarily superpowered than Superman, but heh, Moore pulled it off.
posted by effugas at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2006

So I'm the third of three people who think Promethea is fantastic in every way? There must be more of us than that.
posted by davros42 at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2006

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