Title: Watchmen Companion.
Writer(s): Daniel Greenberg, Ray Winninger & Frank Plowright.
Artist(S): DAve Gibbons.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: December 24th, 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.
To read first:
Watchmen by Alan Moore.
If there’s one comic book writer who genuinely revolutionized the comic book industry for the better, it’s the legendary writer Alan Moore. From Batman: The Killing Joke to V for Vendetta, he has accomplished the impossible through captivating story-telling brimming with contemporary ideas that continue to challenge us as individuals. However, his relationship with DC Comics deteriorated due to creator’s rights and unaccredited royalties led to his disassociation from one of the largest comic book publishers.
During the process of creating his most quintessential story, Watchmen, he also worked with role-playing game creators Daniel Greenberg and Ray Winninger and developed the only Alan Moore-sanctioned prequel in the form of game modules. Expanding the mythology and universe of the Watchmen beyond the graphic novel, this was the only way for fans to learn more about the characters of the past and their repercussions on society that led the world to take a stance on superhero vigilantism.
What is Watchmen Companion about? This prequel companion consists of two game modules, Watchmen: Watching the Watchmen and Watchmen: Taking Out the Trash, as well as the heavily-extensive Watchmen Sourcebook. This volume also includes an insightful introduction by Ray Winninger, issue #17 of The Question which features the Watchmen graphic novel within the story, a Who’s Who collection of pages for the Watchmen characters, as well as additional art by illustrator Dave Gibbons.
The first biggest mistake made here is calling this Watchmen Companion. It might indeed be the only Watchmen-related content that actually has Alan Moore’s blessing and contribution but it isn’t exactly a direct companion to the original graphic novel. In fact, the writers of the game modules and sourcebook were in direct contact with Alan Moore before he even reached the halfway mark issue in his twelve-issue classic. Their brainstorming allowed for some original and fascinating details to characters like Captain Metropolis that never made it into the original story. The benefits coming from this latest release is thus found in the possibility for hardcore fans and rare role-playing gamers to get their hands on the Watchmen modules and sourcebook that have been out-of-print for a very long time.
The second biggest mistake was the absence of crucial components to actually be able to play these modules. Any innocent fan picking this up will, unfortunately, have to already possess a rulebook, a pair of dice, an Action Table, an Action Wheel, cards, and any other elements to actually be able to make any use of the highly-praised modules. If anything, this makes it clear that this companion is only for those who aren’t beginners in the world of role-playing games. Based on my research, the best option is to hunt down a Mayfair Games DC Heroes boxed set or a similar set with similar components to be able to play this.
Besides these shortcomings, this deluxe edition companion volume does offer some truly fascinating descriptions of characters and events that help better grasp the universe in which is set the original Watchmen story. While the Question issue #17 isn’t anything extraordinary and a simple and exclusive nod to the graphic novel that used to be published by Vertigo Comics (which means that it used to be outside the DC Universe), the additional artwork by illustrator Dave Gibbons offers some truly exciting and insightful never-before-seen material that allows readers to revisit these characters under a different light (you’d be surprised by what Rorschach was supposed to look like under his long jacket, for example).
Watchmen Companion is a reprint of two Alan Moore-sanctioned prequel role-playing game modules and a sourcebook that might not be as accessible to every fan out there as you’d hope for it to be.