First off his third point is addressing the very thing you seem to point out that this is all talk about series that have not yet been released.
I know but by the end of that third point he's already being dismissive and by the end of the column he's even more dismissive... all of work he hasn't seen.
I don't see though how you can have such absolute standards in an artistic medium sure all comics are sold and a great deal of them are reusing or reinventing existing characters but there are degrees of the artistic merit attached to a project that can be discerned from even before the books come out...
How? By looking at the creators involved? There's genuine talent attached to a lot of these comics. By the characters and themes involved? We already know Watchmen
had strong characters and themes. There's rich territory there to be mined if the creators involved are up to the task.
... from the creator interviews to the company interviews to the Dave Gibbons gun-to-the-head-quote, to the fact that they are "reinventing characters for a modern stage" by telling a prequel to something 25 years old.
You're making assumptions and so is Spurgeon. You can only glean so much from interviews. I haven't read them all but what I've read hasn't given away much about the actual content of the books. Gibbons' quote speaks only to his personal feelings about the project not the project itself. It's practically a rorscach test (sorry, no pun intended) and people are taking what they want from it. It's not a ringing endorsement but it's also not clear from reading the quote if he's even seen the work that will eventually be published.
There are so many problems from the ground floor that I don't see how you can fault people for being incredibly skeptical, is there a chance that these books will be good? Sure. Is there a chance they can reach the heights of the original? We may need the Miracle Machine for that.
I'm not faulting people for being skeptical. I'm
skeptical. I'm faulting people when they go beyond skepticism and start making declarations about the work sight unseen. The problems you refer to are largely a matter of personal opinion and not one of them represents a creative hurdle that can't be overcome.
As for these series reaching the heights of the original... as I've already said, they don't need to do that to have genuine artistic merit or to be very good, perhaps even excellent comics. There's a lot of territory between Watchmen
-level achievement and "product" as Spurgeon is using the word. These comics stand a good chance of being much better than say, a cash grab with Obama on the cover.
Same as you I find it funny that now 25 years after the book is out there seems to be enough distance for people to question/mock/ironically look at the pedestal that the comics industry/fans have created for a work/piece of art that is worthy of its acclaim.
Eh... I didn't need the 25 years. I've questioned it from the start because even back in the mid-80s there were fans elevating Watchmen
to the level of the great works of history. It's one of my all-time favorite comics. I read it as it was released and have re-read it (and re-purchased it in different editions) many times. It's worthy of acclaim but I think it's become a sacred cow for superhero comics fans. It's routinely referred to as the greatest comic of all time, as if that's a given, even though there are arguably other works that compare to it very favorably. Heck, in that column, Spurgeon referred to it as "the greatest work of its genre".
I think a huge part of Watchmen's appeal and it's "sacred", untouchable status stems from the validation it provides superhero comics fans, validation they've been desperately seeking for decades. Fans were worshipping at the altar of The Dark Knight
movie for similar reasons. A substantial segment of superhero comics readers loves nothing more than a serious
work that validates their interest in stories about costumed, crime-fighting vigilantes. Watchmen
is a sophisticated, complex comic so it does that in spades and I think that, more than anything else, is why so many view it as untouchable. It's not just a great comic, it's the comic that told the world it's okay to read superhero comics.