The two statements that summed up DC's apparent attitude for me:
"We're trying really, really hard." -Amanda Connor
"We're giving you what you want." -Brain Azzarello
Despite whatever my fanboy opinions may be, DC is in the thick of "Before Watchmen". I'm sure you've heard about it, I'm sure you've either ranted about it or defended it to your friends in an angry exchange. Everyone has. I know that because it's an immensely controversial project and I've seen it happen to many friends. Watchmen is one of DC's crowning achievements, but the jury's still out on BEFORE Watchmen. It seems to teeter on the edge of exploitation, and the last thing DC should want to do is prove Alan Moore right.
Late Friday I sat through the Before Watchmen panel, and I get the distinct impression that even the people involved are unsure if this is all such a grand endeavor. From the moderator down the table, not a single person involved looked as if they wanted to be there. Brain Azzarello seemed uninterested in the subject matter (and didn't seem to be a fan of the character Rorschach- "I don't know why you like this guy", describing he and the Comedian as having 'one note'). Their body language ranged between apathetic to uneasy. The editorial presence came off as defensive, being the first to broach the negative backlash topic. I had to ask myself who they were trying to convince this was a good idea. Editors like Will Dennis praised the talent involved-and rightfully so-but in a manner that read "see? how could it suck with all these people?"
No one really discussed content or direction of the book, but instead focused on a handful of alternate covers that will be premiering over the next month or so. The only real attention grabber of which was the off-handed remark that Neal Adams would be doing an unnamed Dr. Manhattan cover in the near future. Even as they announced these covers they tried to steer readers away from comic book news websites like this one and asked that we get our scoops directly from DC's social media. They really, really want to control the spin on these books, though I'm not sure that it's working.