Before Watchmen is a series of comic books published by DC Comics in 2012. Acting as a prequel to the 1986 12-issue Watchmen limited series by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, the project will consist of eight limited series and one one-shot (though two were initially planned) for a total of 37 issues.
Publication history 
Moore stated in 1985 that if the Watchmen limited series was well-received, he and Gibbons would possibly create a 12-issue prequel series called Minutemen featuring the 1940s superhero group from the story. DC offered Moore and Gibbons chances to publish prequels to the series, such as Rorschach's Journal or The Comedian's Vietnam War Diary, as well as hinting at the possibility of other authors using the same universe. Tales of the Comedian's Vietnam War experiences were floated because The 'Nam was popular at the time, while another suggestion was, according to Gibbons, for a "Nite Owl/Rorschach team" (in the manner of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and also in the sense that the original Charlton characters Blue Beetle and The Question had worked together as a team from time-to-time). Neither man felt the stories would have gone anywhere, with Moore particularly adamant that DC not go forward with stories by other individuals. Gibbons was more attracted to the idea of a Minutemen series, because it would have "[paid] homage to the simplicity and unsophisticated nature of Golden Age comic books—with the added dramatic interest that it would be a story whose conclusion is already known. It would be, perhaps, interesting to see how we got to the conclusion."
In 2010, Moore told Wired that DC offered him the rights to Watchmen back earlier that week, if he would agree to prequel and sequel projects. Moore said that "if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked ... But these days I don't want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don't want it back under those kinds of terms." DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee responded, "DC Comics would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves."
Following months of rumors about a potential Watchmen follow-up project, in February 2012 DC announced it was publishing seven prequel limited series under the "Before Watchmen" banner: Rorschach, Minutemen, Dr. Manhattan, Comedian, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Ozymandias. Among the creators involved are writers J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Darwyn Cooke, and Len Wein, and artists Lee Bermejo, J. G. Jones, Adam Hughes, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, and Amanda Conner. Every issue will feature a two-page installment of the backup series "Curse of the Crimson Corsair" that has been inspired by the Tales of the Black Freighter story-within-a-story from the original Watchmen, written by Len Wein and featuring art by original Watchmen colorist John Higgins. The project was planned to conclude with a Before Watchmen: Epilogue one-shot, but it was never written. Gibbons stated, "The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire."
Moore criticized the project, calling it "completely shameless", and stated he was not interested in monetary compensation, but rather “What I want is for this not to happen.” Moore elaborated, "What the comics industry has effectively said is, 'Yes, this was the only book that made us briefly special and that was because it wasn't like all the other books.' Watchmen was something that stood on its own and it had the integrity of a literary work. What they've decided now is, 'So, let's change it to a regular comic that can run indefinitely and have spin-offs.' and 'Let's make it as unexceptional as possible.' Like I say, they're doing this because they haven't got any other choices left, evidently."
Hardcover release 
DC will be collecting Before Watchmen in four hardcover collections, grouped by author.
Darwyn Cooke: Minutemen (1-6) and Silk Spectre (1-4)
Brian Azzarello: Comedian (1-6) and Rorschach (1-4)
J. Michael Straczynski: Nite Owl (1-4), Dr. Manhattan (1-4), and Moloch (1-2)
Len Wein: Ozymandias (1-6), Crimson Corsair (Back-up chapters), and Dollar Bill (one-shot)
The cancelled Epilogue (one shot) will not be included in any collection
|This section requires expansion. (March 2013)|
Before Watchmen: Minutemen (6 issues) 
Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, recounts his exploits with The Minutemen while facing opposition to the publication of his tell-all autobiography, Under the Hood. It debuted to positive reviews.
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre (4 issues) 
The story follows Laurie Jupiter as she rebels from her mother Sally's efforts for Laurie replace her as the Silk Spectre. Laurie runs away with her boyfriend to discover herself in the San Francisco counter-culture of the late 1960's. It debuted to mixed reviews.
Before Watchmen: Comedian (6 issues) 
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl (4 issues) 
In the story, Nite Owl is trained by the original Nite Owl from the superhero team The Minutemen, and has his first adventures. His early partnership with Rorschach breaks up when they begin looking at a series of prostitute murders, each recalling the abuse their mothers suffered when they were children. Nite Owl allows himself to be influenced by dominatrix madam The Twilight Lady while Rorschach turns toward religion, fate bringing them back together to solve the case. It debuted to mostly negative reviews.
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias (6 issues) 
As he awaits the final moment for his master plan to come together, Ozymandias reflects on what brought him there and makes an autobiographical recording of his life, his early studies and adventures, the beginnings of his financial empire and his crime-fighting career, and his first unnerving encounters with The Comedian and Doctor Manhattan - the latter of which prompted him to build his Antarctic fortress of Karnak, aid in resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis, and retire from crime-fighting to concentrate on saving the world at any cost. It debuted to mostly positive reviews.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach (4 issues) 
The story follows Rorschach in New York City, 1977, where his crime-fighting activities cause him to be targeted by a crime lord running drugs and prostitution in the then-sordid Times Square. While focused on the gang, Rorschach makes the mistake of allowing another predator to operate unchallenged. It debuted to mixed reviews.
Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan (4 issues) 
Before Watchmen: Moloch (2 issues) 
The story reveals Moloch's childhood, his rise to becoming a villain, and new details surrounding his death.
Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill (one-shot) 
Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Steve Rude
The story explores Bill Brady, the corporate-sponsored superhero known as Dollar Bill. 
Before Watchmen: Epilogue (one-Shot) 
Writers: Various. Artists: Various
The Epilogue one-shot that was initially planned but later was cancelled. It was planned to feature a Crimson Corsair story written by Len Wein and drawn by John Higgins. Higgens has also written and drawn the Crimson Corsair back-up features that appear in many of the Before Watchmen publications.
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- Brian Salvatore and David Harper, "Review: Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1", www.multiversitycomics.com, 24 August 2012
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