Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns are two of the most iconic and influential stories in DC's comic book arsenal. They've served as key building blocks of the DC Cinematic Universe, and Alan Moore and David Gibbons' Watchmen is now even a part of the DC comic book universe proper, thanks to DC's recent Rebirth event.
It's easy to see, then, why DC wants to release new hardcover editions of its two most iconic works just in time for the holidays, but these new editions aren't your usual hardcover graphic novel. In fact, they aren't really graphic novels at all.
Rather than re-release Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns as one story, as has been done in the past numerous times, this time around, DC is opting to re-release the stories in their original, multi-issue formats. For Watchmen, each of the story's 12 individual issues will be getting the hardcover treatment and will come in a stylish slip case. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns will be broken into four hardcover volumes and treated in a similar manner.
They're nice looking for what they are, but they don't come cheap. The Watchmen collector's edition box set will sell for $150, while The Dark Knight Returns version will sell for a significantly cheaper, though still expensive at $50. Curiously, buyers don't seem to be getting much extra in the Watchmen boxed set for the steep price. None of the extras from the hardcover Watchmen: Absolute Edition or deluxe edition look to be included, plus, buyers have to put up with having the story broken into 12 pieces. That doesn't exactly make it great for reading on the go.
Not that it will matter to collectors. DC's target audience is likely fans who already own the story and have bought it numerous times, and are buying it once again just so it can sit on a shelf and look pretty. The Dark Knight Returns collector's edition is much more reasonably-priced, but it's still expensive considering fans can pick up a paperback version of the story for less than $20. Still, the above point still stands. These special editions aren't for casual fans, but for those who've read the stories forwards and backwards and will pay a pretty penny for a beautiful box set to put on a bookshelf.
Both box sets go on sale in November.