Alan Moore’s Superhero Universe Reboots 0: Introduction


Alan Moore is the master of superhero universe reboots and this series of posts will describe his efforts, compare and contrast his reboots and finally evaluate which have been the most successful from a critical point of view.  A reboot is a radical remake of an existing character in fiction.  Batman Begins, Battlestar Galactica and Casino Royale are example of cinematic reboots.  A reboot of Star Trek is also in the work.  The following universes will be looked at including the Albion Universe, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Miracleman universe and the Watchmen universe.

 

I will argue that

1) Moore’s reboots always go in a darker direction than the original source material. 

2) Moore also adds a layer of characterization that was not present in the original material.  3) The fact that the characters are in a universe is emphasized much more than in the original source material. 

4) There is almost always a comic book within the comic book.

5) Certain larger political/philosophical questions are consistently explored in Moore’s work.

 

The first point is not surprising since the source material is generally from the 1960s when comic books were aimed at readers of an average age of ten and there was code that controlled what sort topics and material could be dealt with in comic books.  The second point is explained by the fact Moore as a superior writer brings characterization to a medium were characterization is generally ignored.  The third point is also related to the current comic book market versus the one of the 1960s. Crossover issues do well on the market place.  Sagas that involve all the superheroes are major events and seem to happen almost yearly these days.  Interestingly, Moore is very critical of these universe events in his unpublished description of his own DC saga, Twilight of the Superheroes.  In particular, Moore really slams Marvel’s Secret Wars.  You can read Moore’s proposal at:

 

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/twilight-of-the-superheroes-by-alan-moore/

 

This unpublished proposal has been bouncing around the internet for awhile and is required for any fan of Moore’s and provides a rare insight into the person I consider the greatest genius in the area of comic book writing ever!  There is the finished product of the artist and then there are the notebooks of the artist that let a student of the artist to see how the artist goes about making the final product i.e. the process!  The process is often more interesting than the product.

 

Fourthly, and this is really Moore’s signature touch in almost every reboot, Moore almost always figures out a way to make the comic self-referential with the exception of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  There is invariably a comic book within the comic book!  In some cases the source material as comic book is revealed within the story.  This is the case in the Albion universe and the Terra Obscura universe.  The Watchmen has a comic book within a comic book but this comic book does not point to the original source material. 

 

Fifthly, Moore is a great writer because he often asks the political question does the end justify the means in a manner that is not easy to answer.  Moore also explores existential questions of free will and the two questions are put together to form a larger question of what the hero should do.  Being the hero in a Moore work is generally a much grayer situation than being a hero in other comic books that accept the convention of easily identified good versus evil characters and morally easy to figure out modes of action.

 

These posts will not reiterate the plots of each series, except as necessary for critical purposes, since this has already been done at Wikipedia and this link will be supplied with each post.  Rather, the purpose of these posts is to provide a critical overview of all of Moore’s reboots using a consistent framework. 

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