There are a number of valid arguments for and against this move, and even more arguments that are pure batshit crazy. And since Watchmen is vritually the comic fanboy's version of the bible, well, this decision has rustled up more than its fair share of controversy.
As for me, as a giant fanboy, I am coming out right now and expressing my opinion on these books.
I am all for them.
Oh yeah, you heard me. I am looking forward to books coming out that spit in the face of Saint Alan Moore.
I am gonna catch such hell for this. ;)
Honestly, the comics community needs to seriously unclench a bit on some things. Are these prequels necessary? Of course not. But what comic is? Will they be as good as the original? Almost certainly not, but they could still be good IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. Remember that phrase, for it is important. If we said, "Well, this comic shouldn't be done because it might not be good as Watchmen" well...how many comics would have been made in the past 25 years? Very few.
But you know what? We've got some good creators at work here, on words and pictures. Joe Straczynski? Darwyn Cooke? Len Wein? Adam Hughes? Kuberts aplenty? Amanda Connor? Screw it, these may not be as good as the original, but I don't care. This sounds fun, and entertaining, and gasp! Might actually be good as comics on their own!
I also hate prejudging something without some sort of basis for that judgment, and so far, everything about Before Watchmen is pretty solid. All we can base things on is the creators involved, and the characters they're paired up with, and all of that seems MORE than fine, even great! to me.
I am glad they're not trying to do a sequel, yet. Watchmen IS a complete, wrapped up in itself story. Doing anything after the events depicted therein does indeed become a bit of a dicey proposition. But filling in some blanks from the past? I feel that's fair enough. The Comedian was kicking around for 40 years before Watchmen #1, and I'm sure he was up to interesting things in the interim, and I look forward to seeing just what sorts of tales they're going to tell.
An interesting thing to note is that they've decided to do a separate pirate story, which I think is a smart move. The pirate story, while interesting allegory inside the book, and flavour for what the world was like, it is ultimately needless to the larger story. Go ahead, read Watchmen sometime and skip the Black Freighter stuff. You don't lose much. And acknowledging that the writers involved aren't going to be competing with the high literary stakes of the original book is smart. It lets you know right away what to expect, and the level they're aiming for, which is fair enough. But they are doing pirate stuff, so the fans still get that. This is all perfectly fine, says I.
So yeah, bring on more Watchmen! I am so on board.
Oh, and then there's Alan Moore saying doing more Watchmen stories is evil but that what he does with other characters for something like LoEG is ok, because that's stealing.
..WHAT?! That doesn't make a lick of sense, and blows my mind.
Although, 40 some-odd comics to prequel a 12 issue run seems a bit much...