Watchmen
This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman series.

Watchmen Details

TitleWatchmen
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 31st, 2017
PublisherDC Comics
ISBN0930289234
ISBN-139780930289232
Number of pages416 pages
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction

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Watchmen Review

  • J.G. Keely
    May 13, 2007
    Since the movie came out, I've found myself having to explain why Watchmen is important and interesting. Despite being the most revered comic book of all time, it never really entered the mainstream until the film. Now, people are rushing to read it in droves, but approaching Watchmen without an understanding of its history and influences means missing most of what makes it truly special.The entire work is an exploration of the history and purpose of the superhero genre: how readers connect to i Since the movie came out, I've found myself having to explain why Watchmen is important and interesting. Despite being the most revered comic book of all time, it never really entered the mainstream until the film. Now, people are rushing to read it in droves, but approaching Watchmen without an understanding of its history and influences means missing most of what makes it truly special.The entire work is an exploration of the history and purpose of the superhero genre: how readers connect to it, and what it means philosophically. Moore stretches from fond satire to outright subversion to minute allusion, encasing the once-simple genre in layers of meaning. Even as he refines and compresses the genre, he also constantly pushes its boundaries. Watchmen is unapologetic, unflinching, and most miraculous of all, freed from the shame which binds so many comics.Moore never stoops to making an entirely sympathetic character. There is no real hero, and none of the characters represents Moore's own opinions. Superhero comics are almost always built around wholly sympathetic, admirable characters. They represent what people wish they were, and they do the things normal people wish they could do.It is immediately gratifying escapism, which many people attach themselves to, especially the meek who lead tedious, unfulfilled lives. Many people also do the same thing with celebrities, idolizing them and patterning their own lives on the choices those famous people make. But in this modern age of reality TV and gossip media, we know that celebrities are not ideal people.Indeed, their wealth and prominence often drives them mad. While everyone else views the world from the bottom up, they view it from the top down, and this skewed perspective wreaks havoc with their morality and sense of self. Moore's superheroes represent something even beyond this celebrity. Not only are they on the top of the heap, but they are physically different from other human beings. Their superiority is not just in their heads and pocketbooks, but in their genetics.They are not meant to be sympathetic, they are meant to be human. They are as flawed and conflicted as any of us, and while we may sometimes agree with them, as often, we find them distant and unstable.Many people have fingered Rorschach as the 'hero' of this tale, but that is as flawed as pinning Satan as the hero of 'Paradise Lost'. Following the classic fantasy of power, Rorschach inflicts his morality on the world around him. But, since he is not an ideal, but a flawed human, we recognize that his one-man fascist revolution is unjustified.We all feel that we see the world clearly, and everyone around us is somehow confused and mistaken. Often, we cannot understand how others can possibly think they way they do. Sometimes, we try to communicate, but there is often an impassable barrier between two minds: no matter how much we talk or how pure our intentions, one will never be able to convince the other.We all feel the temptation to act out--if only those disagreeable people were gone, the world would be a better place. While this justification may be enough for most comic writers, Moore realizes that the other guy thinks everything would be better if we were gone. Rorschach lashes out because his ideas are too 'out there' and he is too socially insecure to convince anyone that he is right. He is unwilling to question himself, and so becomes a force of his own violent affirmation.Most who sympathize with him are like him: short-sighted and desperate, unable to communicate with or understand their fellow man. Many are unwilling even to try. Rorschach becomes a satire of the super hero code, which says that as long as you call someone evil, you are justified in beating him to death. This same code is also commonly adopted as foreign policy by leaders in war, which Moore constantly reminds us of with references to real world politics.The rest of the characters take on other aspects of violent morality, with varying levels of self-righteousness. Like the British government of the 1980's, which inspired Moore, or the American government of the beginning of this century, we can see that equating physical power with moral power is both flawed and dangerous. Subjugating others 'for their own good' is only a justification for leaders who feel entitled to take what they can by force.The only character with the power to really change the world doesn't do so. His point of view is so drastically different from the common man that he sees that resolving such petty squabbles by force won't actually solve anything. It won't put people on the same page, and will only create more conflict and inequality. Dr. Manhattan sees man only as a tiny, nearly insignificant part of the vast complexity of the cosmos. Though he retains some of his humanity, his perspective is so remote that he sees little justification for interference, any more than you or I would crush the ants of one colony to promote the other.The ending presents another example of one man trying to enforce his moral solutions upon the entire world. Not only does this subvert the role of the super hero throughout comic book history, but reflects upon the political themes touched on throughout the book. Man is already under the subjugation of men--they may not be superhuman, but still hold the lives of countless billions in their hands. It is no coincidence that Moore shows us president Nixon, a compulsive liar and paranoid delusional who ran the most powerful country in the world as he saw fit.Moore's strength as a writer--even more than creating flawed, human characters--is telling many different stories, which are really the same story told in different ways, all layered over each other. Each story then comments on the others, presenting many views. His plots are deceptively complex, but since they all share themes, they flow one into the next with an effortlessness that marks Moore as a truly sophisticated writer.Many readers probably read right across the top of this story, flowing smoothly from one moment to the next, and never even recognizing the bustling philosophical exploration that moves the whole thing along. The story-within-a-story 'The Black Freighter' winds itself through the whole of Watchmen, and for Moore, serves several purposes. Firstly, it is another subversion of comic book tropes: Moore is tapping into the history of the genre, when books about pirates, cowboys, spacemen, monsters, and teen love filled the racks next to the superhuman heroes before that variety was obliterated by the Comics Code (yet another authoritarian act of destruction by people who thought they were morally superior). But in the world of Watchmen, there are real superheroes, and they are difficult, flawed, politically motivated, and petty. So, superhero comics are unpopular in the Watchmen world, because there, superheroes are fraught with political and moral complexity. These are not the requisite parts of an escapist romp. We don't have comic books about our politicians, after all. We may have political satire, but that's hardly escapist fun.So, instead they read about pirates. Beyond referencing the history of comics, 'The Black Freighter' works intertextually with Watchmen. The themes and events of one follow the other, and the transitions between them create a continuous exploration of ideas. Moore never breaks off his story, because even superficially unrelated scenes flow from one to the other, in a continuous, multilayered, self-referential narrative.I continually stand in awe of Moore's ability to connect such disparate threads. Many comic authors since have tried to do the same, but from Morrison to Ellis to Ennis, they have shown that striking that right balance is one of the hardest things an author can do. Most of Moore's followers end up with an unpalatable mish-mash instead of a carefully prepared and seasoned dish.Unlike most comic authors, Moore scripted the entire layout for the artist: every panel, background object, and action. Using this absolute control, Moore stretched the comic book medium for all it was worth, filling every panel with references, allusions, and details which pointed to the fullness and complexity of his world. Moore even creates meaning with structure, so that the size, shape, and configuration of panels tell much of the story for him. One of the volumes is even mirrored, so that the first page is almost identical to the last, the second page to the second last, and so on. That most readers don't even notice this is even more remarkable. That means that Moore used an extremely stylized technique so well that it didn't interfere with the story at all.But therein lies the difficulty: if a reader isn't looking for it, they will probably have no idea what makes this books so original and so remarkable. This especially true if they don't know the tropes Moore is subverting, or the allusive history he calls upon to contextualize his ideas.While many readers enjoy the book purely on its artistic merit, the strength of the writing, and the well-paced plot, others disregard the work when they are unable to recognize what makes it revolutionary. One might as well try to read Paradise Lost with no knowledge of the Bible, or watch Looney Toons without a familiarity with 1940's pop culture.It is not a perfect work, but there is no such thing. Moore's lead heroine is unremarkable, which Moore himself has lamented. He did not feel entirely comfortable writing women at that point in his career, and the character was forced on him by the higher ups. Luckily, she's not bad enough to ruin the work, and only stands out because she lacks the depth of his other characters.His politics sometimes run to the anarchic, but often this is just a satire of violence and hubris. Moore gives no easy answers in his grand reimagining. His interlocking stories present many thoughts, and many points of view. In the end, it is up to the reader to decide for himself who was right or wrong--as if anyone truly could be.Moore never insults the intelligence of his readers, and so creates a work with more depth than anyone is likely to plumb even after numerous readings. Likewise, he does not want you to 'hold on for the ride', but expects that you will engage and question and try to come to terms with his work, yourself. No one is necessarily the hero or villain, and many people find themselves cowed and unsure of such an ambiguous world, just as we do with the real world.Watchmen is not instructional, nor is it simply a romp. This book, like all great books, is a journey that you and the author share. The work is meant to connect us to the real world, and not to let us escape from it. This is Moore's greatest subversion of the superhero genre, and does even more than Milton to "justify the ways of God to man", for many men delude themselves to godhood, yet even these gods cannot escape their fundamental humanity. My Suggested Readings in Comics
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  • Bookdragon Sean
    October 7, 2015
    Morality is a fickle bitch. This is, simply put, iconic. When any one mentions comics/graphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen. I think there is a strong reason for it. It made me question morality on a scale rarely seen in fiction. Indeed, when considering the characters it is incredibly hard to consider any of them truly good or truly bad. They are simply people who are convinced that they are right. Take Rorschach, he follows the law to the very letter, but nev Morality is a fickle bitch. This is, simply put, iconic. When any one mentions comics/graphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen. I think there is a strong reason for it. It made me question morality on a scale rarely seen in fiction. Indeed, when considering the characters it is incredibly hard to consider any of them truly good or truly bad. They are simply people who are convinced that they are right. Take Rorschach, he follows the law to the very letter, but never stops to consider, for a single moment, that there are actually problems with the law; yes, he is violent, but his unique form of vigilante justice is an embodiment of the law’s order. He works outside the law to bring the law in a strange sort of way. Then is he not worthy of the justice he administers? Does he go too far? Is he, too, not worthy of punishment? These are hard questions to answer because there are no real answers. There is simply opinion and debate; it all depends on how you view the world. One thing remains certain though, the characters in here are so devastatingly flawed. On the other hand, you have Ozymandias who looks at the big picture. He sees the world for what it is, and tries to plan accordingly. Except, unlike Rorschach he attempts to tackle the bigger problems. To many, he is simply the villain. In reality he is as obscurely heroic as Rorschach and just as morally grey. Who has the right to sacrifice life? Who has the right to dictate people and make such a monumental decision? Well, nobody really. Yet, Ozymandias’ actions, essentially, save the world. Who can question his results? His methods are clearly debatable, though it was the only route open to him. There is simply no quantifiable right or wrong in this world; there is only neutrality and hypocrisy. This is where the self-actualised Comedian comes in. Unlike Rorschach, he is fully aware of his faults and corruptness. Unlike Ozymandias, he perceived that the world has no hope. So, what does he do? He embraces himself and indulges in his own overbearing personality. He knows what he is, and what he reflects, so he relishes in his own nature. He offers no guilt and feels no remorse: he simply doesn’t care about anything or anyone. In this he is more neutral than any other character; he isn’t in denial; he isn’t convinced he is right: he just knows that the world is, essentially, doomed. So, why not enjoy it? It’s all a joke, after all. Right? There are so many conflicting and self-defeating morals in here. Never before have I read something in which so many people have been wrong, but at the same time so absolutely right. Then there is Jon, the so called God of America, the supreme Dr Manhattan. He is something else entirely. He could have changed everything. His power was practically limitless, but he barely lifted a finger until the last possible moment. And the pointing of that finger was an action that was both terrible and completely necessary. The answer became clear as to the question of his inaction: why should he bother with man? The Comedian got to him in this; he saw something in humanity that wasn’t worth saving. Rorschach saw it too, but he still tried to salvage the remnants of society through brutalising the brutalisers. Dr Manhattan, however, was simply too complex and too important to waste his time on the common man. He came through in the end though, surprisingly. Well, kind of. I thought he’d watch the world burn, but humanity did have another protector albeit one who committed necessary evils. This was such a great piece of fiction; I don’t think I could ever do it justice in a review. Parts of this felt too intricate to put into words. This is a complete subversion of the entire genre and a full questioning of the flawed, and hypocritical, nature of humankind. It is a piece of work that will, simply put, never be forgotten by those that have experienced its mortifying splendour. This is the first comic book I’ve seriously considered to be great; it has become a gateway for me to explore the comic book universe that I’ve barely touched in the past. So I ask you this: what comic book should I read next? Can any other comic really compare to this?
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  • Mark Lawrence
    May 30, 2011
    I didn't read this until last year. I saw the film about six months later. I'm a new convert still radiant with that 'just converted' glow. Along with the Sandman graphic novels this is my favourite work in the medium (Zenith and Preacher get honourable mentions). Watchmen wins over all of the other candidates in ambition. This is a work of vast ambition. It doesn't deliver on every level, it isn't perfect, but it contains so much that succeeds, and comes so close to fulfilling its promises that I didn't read this until last year. I saw the film about six months later. I'm a new convert still radiant with that 'just converted' glow. Along with the Sandman graphic novels this is my favourite work in the medium (Zenith and Preacher get honourable mentions). Watchmen wins over all of the other candidates in ambition. This is a work of vast ambition. It doesn't deliver on every level, it isn't perfect, but it contains so much that succeeds, and comes so close to fulfilling its promises that it would be churlish to mention any failings.Alan Moore is a great writer. He's not a great writer for comics, he's a great writer period, who happens to have made the graphic novel his medium. Watchmen is at times literary, funny, erudite, tragic, exciting, intriguing... it's written for intelligent grown-up readers. The plot sprawls, it's convoluted, it spans generations and a large cast. What keeps it together are the deeply personal stories on various scales. Its scope was what kept it from the big screen for so long, and in truth the movie (whilst good fun and well done, I thought) is just a 2D projection of this complex multi-dimensional work. That same complexity is stopping me from doing it justice in this short review. Rather than try I'm just going to back off the grandiose praise and return to the punchline:This is a fun read. It's exciting. The artwork ROCKS. It's as deep as that hole Alice fell down, but you never notice you're falling. Pick it up. Read it with pride. If someone sneers at you for reading a comic-book... hit them with it. It's nice and fat!.
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  • Schmacko
    August 11, 2008
    I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels. The plot is complex, it’s unique, and it’s well drawn. Also, it’s got the Holy Grail of every geeky comic book fan's wetdreams – lots of cool gadgets and stuff.I ain’t knocking that. Imagination abounds, and I am thoroughly impressed. I love that comic books and graphic novels create their entire world – but – BUT then again every piece of art creates it’s own world. And ALL OF THOSE OTHER ARTS MAKE EMOTIONALLY E I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels. The plot is complex, it’s unique, and it’s well drawn. Also, it’s got the Holy Grail of every geeky comic book fan's wetdreams – lots of cool gadgets and stuff.I ain’t knocking that. Imagination abounds, and I am thoroughly impressed. I love that comic books and graphic novels create their entire world – but – BUT then again every piece of art creates it’s own world. And ALL OF THOSE OTHER ARTS MAKE EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING STORIES!I get frustrated because my graphic-novel friends keep foisting these things on me. They love me, they see me as very imaginative and very supportive of their creativity, but they cannot seem to get why I go cold at graphic novels.This one was thrust upon me, because I was affected by the movie The Dark Knight. I got emotionally engaged. I felt hopeless with Batman. I got a knot in my stomach when that horrible, unspeakable thing happened two-thirds of the way through the film. I was troubled by Joker’s logic, and I was frustrated with the people in the ferries. In other words, I WAS EMOTIONALLY ENGAGED!A lot of these graphic novels and stuff seem to think that if they simply tickle your creative brain, they’ve succeeded. I want more – I want to laugh and cry and cheer and feel despair. I want a core of true human story. Gadgets and colors and costumes and superpowers don't make me weep or shout or ponder or giggle or sigh. Well, they make me sigh - with frustrationa nd boredom.I know I sound angry at these things. I get frustrated, because I don’t think this is so hard to understand that I need emotional stimulation. And yet, my graphic-novel friends still press these books in my hand, hoping to unlock my wonder and amazement. I was full of wonder and amazement at The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel about a superhero and the super-human who spawned him. I am not above the magical, mystical, and fantastic (I love Harry Potter), but there has to be more than just gadgetry and explosions. There has to be honesty and the courage to plumb the human experience. I felt terribly at Kavalier’s struggles with violence and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Sam Clay’s secrets were heart-breaking. Kavalier’s search for revenge and Sam’s search for respect were emotionally engaging. In Harry Potter, I rallied behind Mrs. Weasley's maternal drive. I loved Harry's indignance at cruelty. I thought Hermione's concern for elves was sweet, and complicated (who know they wanted to be slaves). Chabon succeeded at making me feel, and so did Rowling. Watchmen did not.Watchmen is about two generations of heroes. One was human – using costumes, strength, and cunning. The next was led bys a superhuman, Dr. Manhattan – they were both human and somewhat superhuman. Then a law was passed making their work illegal, and they went underground. It’s only when someone starts bumping off the old retired heroes that a mystery starts, a mystery that asks the esoteric and totally intellectual (read: unemotional) question of why humans can be drawn to the edge of doom, and what they need to do to stop just at the edge.Oh - for the people who know and love Watchmen - I felt bad for how Dr. Manhattan couldn’t have a human relationship. And I understood why Laurie got infuriated. The thrill of Laurie and Dan becoming superheroes again was honest and wonderful. But that was it – I didn’t feel the panic of the world ending (mostly because if it did happen, there’d be no story). I didn’t care for the casual use of rape as a plot point. None of the long-winded, theoretical discussion about whether humanity was worth saving had any emotional pull to me. I didn’t care. In all 413 pages, I had four honest emotional reactions. One of my reactions was anger at the tangential pirate story (don’t ask – it doesn’t have any emotional or thematic reason for being there – it was just added because someone thought it was cool). Cool. There’s the problem. Cool things don’t make me feel. People can imagine and draw all the cool things in the world, and it won’t make me emotional engage. Cool things don’t make my heart race or break or pause. They leave me cold. Graphic novels are mostly cool.
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  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    March 24, 2014
    What's this? Unpopular opinion time? Most of my friends and most of Goodreads love this book. I did not. I read for pleasure. I don't care if reading makes me smart. I don't care if reading makes me pretty. I just want that escape into other worlds. If I went to this world-I would die from boredom. I actually like the darker books so I thought this one would sweep me up into the fandom of it. But, alas, it just made me sleep quite well last night.I didn't even know there was a movie made from i What's this? Unpopular opinion time? Most of my friends and most of Goodreads love this book. I did not. I read for pleasure. I don't care if reading makes me smart. I don't care if reading makes me pretty. I just want that escape into other worlds. If I went to this world-I would die from boredom. I actually like the darker books so I thought this one would sweep me up into the fandom of it. But, alas, it just made me sleep quite well last night.I didn't even know there was a movie made from it until someone mentioned it while I was reading it. My hubby would probably like the movie so we may try that at some point. But I ain't in no hurry. Oh, and for the trolls that I'm sure I will attract with this review. Because everyone has their own opinion. Go write yours. (on your own frigging review)
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  • Felicia
    February 7, 2009
    Hmm, what to say. I read this AFTER I saw the movie, which was sacrilege according to some fellow geeks on Twitter, but my definition of "Geek" is someone who doesn't do what people PRESSURE them to do :P They love what they love. So anyhoo I read this and I can summarize this way:The Movie did a great summary of the plot while formulating a story that missed the subtext of the graphic novel entirely. I enjoyed both, but after reading the graphic novel, it's almost sad how the impression you tak Hmm, what to say. I read this AFTER I saw the movie, which was sacrilege according to some fellow geeks on Twitter, but my definition of "Geek" is someone who doesn't do what people PRESSURE them to do :P They love what they love. So anyhoo I read this and I can summarize this way:The Movie did a great summary of the plot while formulating a story that missed the subtext of the graphic novel entirely. I enjoyed both, but after reading the graphic novel, it's almost sad how the impression you take away from the movie is nothing of what Alan Moore was trying to say about the world, society or these characters. So interesting.
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  • Sanjay Gautam
    June 26, 2012
    Alan Moore is the greatest graphic novelist of all time. He has created a world where superheroes are not typical superheroes like super-man, spider-man et al. Each superhero has a unique philosophical perspective. And he has created superheroes who were either in deep complex psychological crisis or are going through one, and they are not perfect who always save the day in the end.
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  • Nicole Prestin
    July 23, 2008
    I realize that what I'm about to say is as close as you can get to comic book blasphemy, but I think that 1) Alan Moore is the most overrated comic book writer ever and 2) this graphic novel is overblown, pretentious and most unforgivable of all, boring.To be fair, I'm somewhat of a snob when it comes to my reading habits. First and foremost, I want to be entertained. If the story happens to be deep, thought provoking or groundbreaking as well, that's icing on the cake. And the bottom line is th I realize that what I'm about to say is as close as you can get to comic book blasphemy, but I think that 1) Alan Moore is the most overrated comic book writer ever and 2) this graphic novel is overblown, pretentious and most unforgivable of all, boring.To be fair, I'm somewhat of a snob when it comes to my reading habits. First and foremost, I want to be entertained. If the story happens to be deep, thought provoking or groundbreaking as well, that's icing on the cake. And the bottom line is that this book simply did not entertain me. It was too busy trying to be Deep and Meaningful and Teach Us A Lesson to actually do anything as lowbrow as make compelling characters the reader can identify with and have them do interesting and entertaining things.While I love characters who are sucky human beings in small doses, stories where damn near everyone sucks like this one get on my nerves. I don't like reading stories filled with a bunch of irredeemable emo asshats who do shitty things to each other (and to humanity in general), and where the the themes of the story are pounded into your face with the delicacy of a sledgehammer. So clearly not my cup of tea, but I'm obviously in the minority on this one.
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  • Fabian
    July 30, 2008
    Not a fan of the graphic novel but this epic actually moved me. It tells of the human drama, the DNA that is passed down generations, the hopelessness of modernity, and which side we'll choose when the apocalypse is neigh. It is pessimistic, dark, & sometimes silly (as a staple of the genre... it wouldn't be a success if it wasn't SOMEhow ridiculous)."The Incredibles" (the Best Pixar Picture Ever) touched upon many of the themes presented here, mainly about the humanity of "Superheroes." Can Not a fan of the graphic novel but this epic actually moved me. It tells of the human drama, the DNA that is passed down generations, the hopelessness of modernity, and which side we'll choose when the apocalypse is neigh. It is pessimistic, dark, & sometimes silly (as a staple of the genre... it wouldn't be a success if it wasn't SOMEhow ridiculous)."The Incredibles" (the Best Pixar Picture Ever) touched upon many of the themes presented here, mainly about the humanity of "Superheroes." Can a rapist actually save lives? Can the past be altogether discarded so that one can live a "normal" life--whether its superhero or human? This menagerie of misfits (Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian, Ozymindas, Silk Spectre...) live and breathe, that is a FACT. Also, the match-cuts are cinematic in a work that is, ironically, dubbed "unfilmable." A character in a comic book tells of his fate, which matches the action that occurs in the comic book WE are reading. It's postmodern AND complex. Let us hope the film comes close to matching its genius.
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  • Brad
    March 25, 2008
    I've been in many discussions over the years -- some in classes I was teaching, some over pints in the bar, and still others late at night with people I love -- about what Alan Moore was trying to say with Watchmen, discussions about the meaning of his graphic novel, and I am convinced that the meaning is not what most people think.Most people I have talked to look at Veidt's mini-Armageddon to bring peace as inherently evil -- and the most monstrous act in a book of monstrous acts. Veidt's act I've been in many discussions over the years -- some in classes I was teaching, some over pints in the bar, and still others late at night with people I love -- about what Alan Moore was trying to say with Watchmen, discussions about the meaning of his graphic novel, and I am convinced that the meaning is not what most people think.Most people I have talked to look at Veidt's mini-Armageddon to bring peace as inherently evil -- and the most monstrous act in a book of monstrous acts. Veidt's act trumps The Comedian's attempted rape of Silk Spectre and the murder of his child in the womb; it trumps Rorschach's punishment of the child killer, his torture of "innocent" informants, and the brutality he delivers unto anyone he happens to see committing a "crime," petty or otherwise; it trumps Dr. Manhattan's personal engagement in the Vietnam War; Veidt's action even seems to trump the not-so-petty criminal activities we see perpetrated by peripheral "criminals" throughout Watchmen.On the surface, we tend to condemn Veidt's action because of its scale. It's cold and precise and sterile and necessarily takes the lives of "millions of innocent people." We have been indoctrinated from the youngest ages to hate this kind of killing more than any other. Our great monsters are Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, but we somehow find it in our hearts and minds to forgive Truman's nuclear attacks on Japan because they "saved millions of lives," as a young Walter Kovacs (aka Rorschach) writes in an essay about his absent father, defending Nuclear War and the Truman doctrine, albeit at an early age. And if we can forgive Truman's attack (I recognize that some people cannot forgive that attack, but many, many can), why not forgive Veidt? If we can forgive one, we must forgive the other. Sure Veidt killed more people, but he saved more too, and created a utopia out of the chaos.This discrepancy in our accepted opinions is not lost on Alan Moore; in fact, it is at the core of Watchmen. We see it being played out in dialogue and action by characters from The Comedian to Rorschach, from Ozymandias to Dr. Manhattan, and even in the supporting folk who populate Moore's distopian future.When faced with this discrepancy and pressed to discover why Veidt's actions continue to rile us, it doesn't take long to uncover a deeper root for our disdain: our need for individuality and Veidt's destruction of the freedom to make our own mistakes. This realization of our anger at Veidt and why his action is "evil" quickly becomes the accepted meaning of Moore's story: that derailing humanity's ability to choose is the greatest wrong anyone can commit (the secular see this as a fundamental attack on our freedom, while the religious see this as our fundamental gift from God, but they tend to add anger at Veidt for playing God), and that Veidt's utopia will fail because the power of the individual is too great -- it always overcomes.I disagree. I don't think Moore considers Veidt's act evil so much as misguided. I am not convinced that Moore believes in good and evil at all. Throughout Watchmen we are led to see one man as the man who "gets it," and that figure is not Rorschach. Rorschach is a guide, nothing more. Rorschach acts as an Horatio figure, guiding us through the narrative, telling us what to pay attention to, whom to believe, what to see: mostly he is trying to get us to see The Comedian. If the story is anyone's it is The Comedian's. The Comedian is the man who gets it, and what the amoral Comedian gets is that morality is a construct designed to help us avoid despairing at what Moore believes is the truth: humanity is violent and base; it is ignoble; it is doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat its violence because that is what humanity does best -- violence -- and everything else is playacting. Thus, Veidt's mini-Armageddon is futile, not because of our noble individuality, not because of the strength of our human spirit, but because of the strength of our animal instincts. All those lives were wasted to create a utopia that simply couldn't be.And Rorschach's journal, slipped through the door of the paper and ready to be printed, is the detonation cap.Watchmen may be the most hopeless popular book printed in the last fifty years, and the most truthful. I am continually shocked by its popularity (even if only as a cult phenomenon), but then maybe it is only popular through a quirk of misunderstanding. Then again, it could be popular because people understand it better than they're willing to admit.
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  • Trish
    December 9, 2007
    Aaron's been telling me for a long time that I should read a select few of his favorite comic books. And I haven't been avoiding them. But when I'm looking around the house for something to read, I forget to wander over to the comics section. So finally he just made a stack of books for me, and I started with Watchmen. And within the first few pages I was testing his patience with questions/comments including: "Why is Rorshach the hero when he's clearly insane?" "None of these people are very pl Aaron's been telling me for a long time that I should read a select few of his favorite comic books. And I haven't been avoiding them. But when I'm looking around the house for something to read, I forget to wander over to the comics section. So finally he just made a stack of books for me, and I started with Watchmen. And within the first few pages I was testing his patience with questions/comments including: "Why is Rorshach the hero when he's clearly insane?" "None of these people are very pleasant." "Why doesn't Laurie shut up?""Seriously. When does Laurie shut up?" "Are any of these people not crazy?" "The Comedian is a stupid super-hero name." "I'm not good at looking at the pictures for information." "I like the text parts between the chapters." He told me that if I wasn't enjoying it I should just stop (and he was probably thinking, "If she doesn't like whining, then why doesn't she shut up?"). But I said it wasn't that I wasn't enjoying it--well, I wasn't enjoying it, but I was appreciating it. And that's my final verdict, I guess. I didn't enjoy it, exactly, because I don't think you're supposed to *enjoy* a story in which at least three-fifths of the characters are certifiably insane or at least significantly imbalanced and in which New York City becomes a body-choked charnel house. But I did *appreciate* the signficance of the book, I think. I think I understand, at least academically if not viscerally, the sea change this must have represented in the tone and depth of comic books/graphic novels, and what a huge influence and touchstone this book must be. But in terms of pure individual reaction? Well, it was kind of like when I finally saw The French Connection. There's all this build up about The French Connection and what a great car chase it has and how influential it was and how it marked the birth of a new type of movie anti-hero who inhabited a realistic moral grey zone, blah, blah, blah. And then when you finally see it, you've seen so many subsequent films that were influenced by it that the original seems old hat. Having seen Ronin, I was not blown away by the car chase in The French Connection. So, my reaction to Watchmen was colored by the fact that I have only been exposed to comic books in a post-Watchmen world. I didn't read comics when I was young. Everything I know about comics I've learned from Aaron Matthew Polk, and he's a huge Watchmen fan, so I had already absorbed the Watchmen worldview without ever having read the book. Of course, it's good to have read it so I have a better chance of participating in or at least following along with comic geek conversations. Now I, too, can speculate on casting should a Watchmen movie ever get the green light, and I, too, can bemoan the eventual script's lack of fidelity to the source material, and I, too, can complain when they screw up the CGI on Doc Manhattan. There should be some sort of merit badge that the girlfriends of geeks can earn--just like in the Girl Scouts, when you get a badge for selling a certain number of cookies, or the stickers and certificates earned by people who give a lot of blood, or the chips they give recovering alcoholics for a certain period of sobriety. I have earned my one comic book badge. It's like being a puny-colored belt of some kind in karate. The point is, I appreciated the book, sort of in the same way that I might appreciate a text I was assigned to read for a class. I mean, I get Great Expectations, but I'm not going to read it again. (Who is crazier: Miss Havisham or Rorshach? Discuss.)
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  • Will Byrnes
    March 16, 2009
    I reread this in anticipation of seeing the film in 2009. Rorschach Watchmen is one of the all-time great graphic novels. Someone is killing the costumed adventurers and the very dark Rorschach, our guiding Virgil into this Inferno, is trying to get to the bottom of it. Watchmen deals in multiple time lines, from the early days of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s when the superheroes were welcomed and appreciated, to the 70’s when laws were passed to limit their legitimacy, to the current day, the 80’s he I reread this in anticipation of seeing the film in 2009. Rorschach Watchmen is one of the all-time great graphic novels. Someone is killing the costumed adventurers and the very dark Rorschach, our guiding Virgil into this Inferno, is trying to get to the bottom of it. Watchmen deals in multiple time lines, from the early days of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s when the superheroes were welcomed and appreciated, to the 70’s when laws were passed to limit their legitimacy, to the current day, the 80’s here. Moore has constructed an alternate history, one in which Nixon remains president for a third term, one in which the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan continues on in to Pakistan and threatens nuclear war with the USA. These are not exactly the nicest superheroes. Rorschach is a psycho, a bloody vigilante, fierce, damaged, with a need for vengeance that often exceeds what is absolutely necessary. The Comedian is a nihilist who has committed an unspeakable crime against one of the other superheroes, as well as plenty of crimes against the non-hero community. Doctor Manhattan, the only character with super powers, and boy o boy what super powers, may not even care about the survivability of humanity any more. Billy Crudup as Doctor Manhattan - from the filmSo what is this all about? One central concern is action versus inaction. Faced with a world approaching the brink of nuclear annihilation, is it better to act or not act? If one is to act, how far can one go to save the earth? Acting in the service of larger causes has implications. Doc Manhattan and the Comedian are shown engaging in bloody carnage in an alternate Viet Nam War. Is murder in the service of country ok? If it is ok in war, how about in preventing war? And why couldn’t Doc Manhattan use his powers to transport the enemy into contained spaces instead of obliterating them? (The ComedianIs Moore a fan of the right-wing or a critic? My take is the latter. On the surface we hear Rorschach droning on about the moral depravity of the city a la Travis Bickel, while practicing his own form of depravity on any who get in his way. The right-wing, rabble-rousing newspaper in the book certainly has plenty of parallels in our world. I do not think he was flattering in his view of them. Moore was writing in response, I believe, to Thatcherism, when creatures like Maggie and Reagan were seen as heroes by their fans, to the detriment of most of us. I read that Moore set Watchmen in an alternate reality so as not to turn off Reaganistas. Who is watching the leaders? And who is watching the watchers? Nite Owl - from the book and as portrayed by Patrick Wilson in the filmIf these are the heroes we get, who needs heroes? Unlike the dominantly rose-tinted superheroes of the past, the Watchmen heroes are far past flawed. What actually do these characters value? Doc Manhattan struggles even with the notion of valuing the continuation of the human race. The Comedian thinks that life is a big, bloody joke, G. Gordon Liddy with a special outfit, and Rorschach sees filth everywhere. Unlike most superhero tales, this one lacks a super-villain. So the heroes have to deal with less simplistic challenges. It takes more to be a superhero than merely the ability to beat up the baddie. They have to use their brains, figure things out, struggle with very difficult moral choices. One annoyance here was that I felt the females in the story tend to serve as plot devices for the development of the male characters rather than as fully realized characters in their own right.Silk Spectre - pen and ink, and Carly Gugino in the filmWatchmen is part Batman, part noir detective story, part cold war crisis of nerves. It represented a sea change in the presentation of graphic heroes, from a more innocent time in which good was good and bad was bad, for the most part, to one in which the distinctions are much less clear. Watchmen resonates on many levels and remains, on re-reading, a powerful tale.
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  • karen
    March 4, 2009
    okay i finally read it. and although i hate hate hate the art (which is why i didnt read it long ago until everyone kept telling me it was better than the art) the story is mostly very good. there are a couple of cringe-y things in there, mostly just dated material that cant be helped, but i am glad i read it, and you all can stop shouting at me now.
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  • Punk
    August 17, 2007
    Graphic Novel. It's 1985. We won the Vietnam War. Nixon is still president. Someone is killing off costumed superheroes, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. I wasn't expecting to like this book. What, I wondered, did a comic from the late eighties have to offer me, a hip and happening girl in the oughts? You can practically see the dots in the color! I'd checked it out from the library on the advice of friends, and I'd tried to read it once before, but gave up before I got even five pa Graphic Novel. It's 1985. We won the Vietnam War. Nixon is still president. Someone is killing off costumed superheroes, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. I wasn't expecting to like this book. What, I wondered, did a comic from the late eighties have to offer me, a hip and happening girl in the oughts? You can practically see the dots in the color! I'd checked it out from the library on the advice of friends, and I'd tried to read it once before, but gave up before I got even five pages in. I still had it, though, so I gave it another chance because it's supposed to have revolutionized the superhero genre and the cover promised me it was both brilliant and peerless. Well, it pretty much is.The art's not memorable, but it does the job. It caries along a compelling, multi-layered story and never gets in the way. It actually has a lot of information in it, and I loved all the details, the ads for Nostalgia perfume and Meltdown candies, the ever changing face of Rorschach, the Gunga Diner elephant, the spraypainted and sometimes incomplete "Who watches the watchmen?" graffiti, the newspaper headlines, and the intercuts between the pirate comic and the superhero story. Things did get a little preachy while we were on Mars and Antarctica, but I forgive Moore because he delivers such engrossing prose pieces at the end of each chapter. The excerpts from magazines, scholarly journals, Hollis Mason's autobiography, and Veidt's personal papers were actually fun to read. I normally don't like large blocks of unillustrated text in graphic novels, but these complemented the story perfectly, giving us background we wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Five stars. Watchmen is a rich, clever, fully realized universe, and if you haven't read it, you really should. I hear it's peerless.
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  • Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
    September 11, 2015
    MIA'S JOURNAL. JANUARY 31st, 2016:Finished book today. Was good. Interesting. Review to come, much to say.When people see this, they will demand to know. Down below, the readers will look up at me and beg, and they will ask: "Should we read this book?"And I'll look down and whisper, "Yes."
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  • Heidi The Hippie Librarian
    September 27, 2016
    I can't stop thinking about this graphic novel. It's not something I'd usually like- ultra-violent with a very dark vision of humanity- but there is something incredibly compelling about it.It starts with a murder. Watchmen is the story of a group of super heroes who don't fight crime anymore because vigilantism was outlawed. Among the many costumed regular heroes (The Comedian, Rorschach, Nite Owl), there is an actual superhero, Dr. Manhattan, who suffered a freak radiation accident and was cha I can't stop thinking about this graphic novel. It's not something I'd usually like- ultra-violent with a very dark vision of humanity- but there is something incredibly compelling about it.It starts with a murder. Watchmen is the story of a group of super heroes who don't fight crime anymore because vigilantism was outlawed. Among the many costumed regular heroes (The Comedian, Rorschach, Nite Owl), there is an actual superhero, Dr. Manhattan, who suffered a freak radiation accident and was changed, permanently. He perceives time as happening all at once and can manipulate matter in multiple dimensions. Each of the heroes has a story, some are very sad, and all of them are upset as one of their own has just been killed. Can they figure out who the murderer is before he/she strikes again?My favorite character out of the bunch is Dr. Manhattan. "We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away." pg 27, Chapter XI. He's nearly godlike in his capabilities but that makes it practically impossible for anyone to understand him.My husband's favorite is Rorschach, which I could understand, but he was far too violent for me to truly appreciate the character. I feel like there's an underlying importance to that character though, something that I couldn't quite grasp...I tried thinking about Rorschach as a rorschach blot for the Watchmen and it nearly broke my brain. (view spoiler)[It's as if how you perceive this character says more about you than the story itself. Normal man, horrific upbringing, violent tendancies, won't quit killing evil people even when being a super hero is outlawed, won't give up even when the main villain of the story has made it clear that he's won. I cheer for the man, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere near him. (hide spoiler)]And the comic within the comic? Fascinating. (view spoiler)[A marooned sailer tries desperately to return to his family to save them from a pirate ship, but along the way, he becomes the monster that he feared. Exactly like the Watchmen. (hide spoiler)]The Watchmen is more than a superhero story: it's an examination of power both physical and in the heart. It's a criticism of government, the media, and art used to manipulate others. It looks at gender roles, rape, and sexual preferences and predilections. It asks: why would a person dress up and create an alter ego in the first place? And, beyond all that, it is a mystery and a love story. There's a lot to enjoy in here if you can get past the blood, gore, and soul crushing darkness. Recommended for an adult audience only.A similar comic, in my mind, is The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman. But, really, Watchmen is in a class all of its own.
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  • •ҠЄЄ ♔ ҨԱЄЄИ•
    January 29, 2014
    It’s been fairly said a hundred times in the 27 years since its publication that writer and artist Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons respectively have created something immortal which then influenced other works and changed the comics medium forever. Watchmen also won the Hugo award in 1988 and was the only graphic novel to make it to Time magazine’s 100 Greatest Books 2005 list. So why the enduring legacy?Like any other kid, I’ve loved superheroes for as long as I could remember. I consider Batman a It’s been fairly said a hundred times in the 27 years since its publication that writer and artist Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons respectively have created something immortal which then influenced other works and changed the comics medium forever. Watchmen also won the Hugo award in 1988 and was the only graphic novel to make it to Time magazine’s 100 Greatest Books 2005 list. So why the enduring legacy?Like any other kid, I’ve loved superheroes for as long as I could remember. I consider Batman a childhood hero as much as the great detective Sherlock Holmes was. I never realized or truly appreciated the extent of my hero worship until I first encountered Batman: The Animated Series when I was thirteen. Before that, I was eight years old when I first watched X-Men as a Sunday cartoon but it was nothing compared to the poetry that is BTAS. I became drawn to the darker side of superheroes since then but I still didn’t know what the darker side really means until 2005 when the second installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise The Dark Knight hit the theaters. I didn’t know that it was an allegory of the Bush administration’s War on Terror but I did understand that Batman’s vigilantism is not always as heroic and anyone who would put on a mask and fight crime has some serious issues to deal with. This was why the superhero action flicks that came after TDK never appealed to me anymore and it was only when in 2010 I watched the Director’s Cut of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen and I finally realized what it was about the superhero that I wanted to unmask. I got my copy of the original graphic novel two months after and I’ve been engrossed with reading it so much that I decided to record my thoughts in a podcast and liked what I was doing so I went on for the next chapters, given that I also received support from some people in the Watchmen fandom I became a part of. I do feel that it is an important work not because it was the first attempt to deconstruct the superhero genre although that partly drives the legacy of Watchmen, but rather it has something more to do with Watchmen’s depth, complexity and artistic understanding of a medium like comic books which has been on the unflattering receiving end of the majority. Watchmen made readers and writers of the medium to aspire for something greater. It never belittled its audience and it embraced the conventions of the medium as well as it satirized it. It was a social commentary masquerading as entertainment. It was a psychological examination of characters who are supposed to represent and parody the superhero archetypes. It’s a celebration of the American spirit and creative achievement. It’s a story with a material that lets you discuss it with other people and encourages even scholarly discourses. Watchmen as a definitive work challenged moral philosophies through the symbol, meaning and message of the superhero. Watchmen deconstructed and parodied both superhero and villain archetypes. Superman is examined through Dr. Manhattan, Batman’s duality is explored in Nite Owl and Rorschach, The Comedian is the less than desirable version of Captain America with a twisted sense of humor and chaos similar to that of the Joker. Silk Spectre II demonstrated that there is more to the femme fatale persona of female masked adventurers. And Ozymandias personally reminded me of Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. What Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons intended was to reinvent characters from the Charlton comics series but instead came up with these characters that we know and love based on the genre’s archetypes.Watchmen has twelve chapters which represented the metaphorical format of twelve minutes to midnight from the Doomsday clock during the Cold War. It also breathlessly transported us in an alternate American history where superheroes co-existed with us and have therefore influenced the course of events, lifestyles and technological discoveries. Vigilantes and masked avengers became celebrities during the mid-forties and outlaws during the seventies. We are taken into the heart of things through the paranoid but often also reasonable ramblings of Rorschach who investigates the murder of a retired government-sponsored hero named Edward Blake and instead uncovers an intricate web of conspiracies perpetuated by a self-made billionaire and self-proclaimed smartest man in the world, Adrian Veidt. There are sideline adventures and dramatic storylines where a demigod named Dr. Manhattan leaves the planet he no longer wishes to be entangled with, where a woman named Laurie Juspeczyk once and for all throws away the shoes her mother has forced her to fill for years, where Daniel Dreiberg a miserable man who overcomes his impotency by embracing the life he had always wanted regardless of rules and where a modest newspaper vendor does something heroic for a high school kid he barely knew but whom he shares a common name with. These are the stories that touched us deeply, felt through unforgettable characters who took us on a journey that became very personal and often transcendental.I think Watchmen for me is a celebration of the superhero genre indeed and that in reading this graphic novel, it made me appreciate superheroes for everything they’re supposed to stand for and reflect and what their value and myth mean in the societies we live in; how they sometimes parody our lives, whether it’s the simple act of putting on a mask and a costume to fight crime or by exposing and dismantling parts of our psyche and civilization through showcasing the consequences of vigilantism, of living a double life and of placing the fate of an entire race on certain people who are burdened with their personal motivations. But ordinary people with their flaws and compensations and problems—they’re the ones that we must connect with, not these ideals we created and placed on superheroes. RECOMMENDED: 10/10* For three years now I’ve been so deeply engrossed in this work and I’m not afraid to say that it made my life better, giving me new perspective about the world in a way only a beautiful literature can do.
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  • Donovan
    January 3, 2014
    Watchmen. How to review the unreviewable? Iconic. Classic. Nostalgic. Reinvented comics and the anti-hero. Redefined meta-fiction. If Alan Moore is known for only one thing, it's Watchmen. It's pre-apocalyptic alternate 1985 America. The Cold War. Gay rights. Women's rights. And costumed heroes are outlawed. Suddenly these retired heroes are being killed off, and it's left to the anti-hero Rorschach and depressive Nite Owl to discover the mysterious truth!What's funny is that Watchmen is a one t Watchmen. How to review the unreviewable? Iconic. Classic. Nostalgic. Reinvented comics and the anti-hero. Redefined meta-fiction. If Alan Moore is known for only one thing, it's Watchmen. It's pre-apocalyptic alternate 1985 America. The Cold War. Gay rights. Women's rights. And costumed heroes are outlawed. Suddenly these retired heroes are being killed off, and it's left to the anti-hero Rorschach and depressive Nite Owl to discover the mysterious truth!What's funny is that Watchmen is a one trick pony, but a really fucking incredible pony. It's drama, pure and simple, gritty and dark and stylistic. With underlying allegory, sociopolitical commentary, suspense, mystery, and hardcore violence. Seriously, if there's one thing Watchmen isn't it's funny. But that's okay. I really do like Alan Moore's writing here. This is my second read since 2009, and even seven years didn't dull my enjoyment. It's a slow burn, but it's like sci-fi soup, rich and complex and weird, with plenty of things to mentally chew. Especially as most of the story takes place in New York. The city, the world, and its inhabitants are unique and dynamic. We see far beyond just Nite Owl and Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre. We see the newspaper vendor and comic book kid, both named Bernie. We see the psychiatrist and his wife. We see the cabbie and her girlfriend. Moore populates his hero world with incredible characters. Dave Gibbons is awesome. I'm biased because I'm so young. I have no idea what comics were in the 1980s. I've heard that Gibbons' style isn't especially striking for the time, but his colors and cinematic vision are, however. I've said it before, colors make or break a comic book. And these really are incredible. What strikes me about these colors is their arbitrariness. They're just weird. But they're eerie and beautiful, and lend to the story's alternative world. So there you have it. Watchmen is badass. Alan Moore isn't a god but you can't deny his impression. And Dave Gibbons absolutely made this book and made these characters and this world come alive. A short note on the Deluxe Edition... This sucks. I bought it several years ago before I knew what to look for in editions and this is my first time reading it. The black and yellow dust jacket looks fine, but it wraps a cheap cover that damages easily. The paper is terrible. Thin, low gloss pulp that's almost newsprint. The heavily glued binding is crazy tight and refuses to lay flat, with moderate gutter loss. And there's so much glue that two pages stuck together and tore! How's that for deluxe? The extras were okay, mostly light pencil sketches, not really worth paying more than the paperback. If you love Watchmen and want a proper edition, I would suggest the Absolute, which I will be getting to replace this.
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  • Aubrey
    August 7, 2010
    Imagine the poster of a superhero. Bold lines curving around supple limbs, a palate of strong colors suffusing every empty space with black, yellow, red arcing in a heroic spray of vitality. It inspires an intense nostalgia for the days of black and white, where good was good and evil was evil, the latter never lasting for very long. You remember your childhood, filled with dreams and hobbies and racing through the world with bright eyes and an eager mind. The poster is in an alleyway. It is fil Imagine the poster of a superhero. Bold lines curving around supple limbs, a palate of strong colors suffusing every empty space with black, yellow, red arcing in a heroic spray of vitality. It inspires an intense nostalgia for the days of black and white, where good was good and evil was evil, the latter never lasting for very long. You remember your childhood, filled with dreams and hobbies and racing through the world with bright eyes and an eager mind. The poster is in an alleyway. It is filthy, and dark, and cold, and there is a sour smell of urine mixed with mustard and pot blowing across your face. You can see the poster hung by a door by way of the guttering light of a neon sign, 'LIQUOR' buzzing faintly into the night. The superhero's bold and strong design is marred with the bulges of its brick framework, poster plastered in wedges that have managed to survive the brutal onslaught of the elements for many years. Holes poke through where the survival was incomplete, including an unfortunate rip that reduces the right eye to a gaping maw, edges fluttering faintly as the acrid wind continues to blow. You turn. There is something in the alleyway you can't quite see, a limp bundle nearly invisible to the eye, save for the glitter of something that manages to catch a little light from the decrepit sign. You step closer. The glitter is from a cheap metal bracelet, hanging from the slim ankle of a leg that even in the flaky light shows evidence of abuse, worsening as skin approaches skirt. You crouch, get a good look at her face. She can't be more than fourteen. Then you see the hole in her forehead, partially obscured by her bangs that frame a face still in the flush of youth, save for a gout of blood that is sluggishly pooling on her shoulder. You stand, hastening to leave the alleyway with its silent sentinels. It's a tragic shame, what happened to her. But you can't afford to be caught with her. Would cause too much trouble. Besides, you're no superhero or crime fighter, someone capable of punishing the culpable. You have a normal job, a normal family, a normal life. There's no time to care about the misfortunes of complete strangers. Let the stronger ones, the smarter ones, the richer ones worry about all of humanity. Your mind whispers, what if they are the ones responsible? Who will keep them in line? But you squash it. You have enough problems of your own.Making your way home takes you by a church in the midst of a mass, choir voices ringing out in a hallelujah that compels you to pause and listen for a small while. The lights, shining through slender archways, rising with the climbing voices to noble towers that frame the night sky so much more elegantly than their crude apartment complex neighbors. A single choir member reaches a single note so pure, you momentarily forget whatever concerns you were dwelling on, and marvel on 'the music of the spheres', a phrase you haven't heard since your days at high school. Such beauty, not more than five blocks away from the scene of such an ugly crime. Such small, violent, petty concerns, framed alongside an ancient society concerned with adulation of grand cosmic forces. A brutal squirming of the physical, and the stately worship of surmounting it. Survival, squaring off with the reason to survive.And humanity is responsible for both.You hurry home. It's cold, and your thoughts are troubling. Better to drink and sleep it off. Tomorrow's another day.
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  • Madeline
    November 17, 2009
    Two realizations occurred to me while reading this book:1. The movie version, while long as hell, is actually really well done and accurate. And by "accurate" I of course mean "basically a frame-by-frame reproduction of the graphic novel." Not necessarily a bad thing, although they do change some details of the ending a little. I was okay with both versions, though. I think I still prefer the graphic novel, mostly because when I read it I don't have to deal with the horribly miscast Malin Ackerm Two realizations occurred to me while reading this book:1. The movie version, while long as hell, is actually really well done and accurate. And by "accurate" I of course mean "basically a frame-by-frame reproduction of the graphic novel." Not necessarily a bad thing, although they do change some details of the ending a little. I was okay with both versions, though. I think I still prefer the graphic novel, mostly because when I read it I don't have to deal with the horribly miscast Malin Ackerman. I knew she was ruining Silk Spectre II before I even read the original story. Every other character is perfectly cast, though, so it's mostly okay.2. The movie The Incredibles is Watchmen for kids. For example, in excerpts from his book that are spaced throughout the graphic novel, a former superhero discusses his costume-making process: "I experimented with a cloak, remembering how the Shadow would use his cloak to misguide enemy bullets...In practice, however, I found it too unwieldy. I was always tripping over it or getting it caught in things, and so I abandoned it for an outfit that was as streamlined as I could make it." Or, as Edna Mode would say, "NO CAPES!" Movie references aside, I really liked all the technical details about being a superhero I'd never considered before (for example, how do they keep those little masks stuck to their faces? Spirit gum.), as well as the psychology of the superhero. That's really the whole point of Watchmen: the kind of people who are willing to put on a costume and fight crime may not be the kind of people you actually want to have running around beating up criminals. Case in point: Rorschach. I...I don't even have words to describe this character. The movie didn't even really do him justice. In conclusion, amazing and thought-provoking and everyone should read it, even if you've never picked up a graphic novel before. "Yes, we were crazy, we were kinky, we were Nazis, all those things that people say. We were also doing something because we believed in it. We were attempting, through our personal efforts, to make our country a safer and better place to live in. Individually, working on our separate patches of turf, we did too much good in our respective communities to be written off as mere aberration, whether social or sexual or psychological. It was only when we got together that our problems really started....Dressing up in costume takes a very extreme personality, and the chances of eight such personalities getting along together were about seventy-eleven million to one against."
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  • Anne
    January 3, 2009
    Ok, first let me say that I have never read a graphic novel. (I apologize in advance to all those who will be offended when I make this next statement.) I thought it would be a nice easy read that I could finish in a few hours. Oops! What can I say, I figured it was just an adult version of some comic book. Boy, was I wrong. This thing took me days to finish! It was an in-depth, gritty, dark, mostly sad look at an alternate world a lot like ours. The "superheroes" were just dysfunctional guys (a Ok, first let me say that I have never read a graphic novel. (I apologize in advance to all those who will be offended when I make this next statement.) I thought it would be a nice easy read that I could finish in a few hours. Oops! What can I say, I figured it was just an adult version of some comic book. Boy, was I wrong. This thing took me days to finish! It was an in-depth, gritty, dark, mostly sad look at an alternate world a lot like ours. The "superheroes" were just dysfunctional guys (and gals) running around in tights. None of them seemed very heroic when it came down to it, and the only one of them with actual superpowers didn't care about anything at all. I still don't know if I like it, and it certainly wasn't enjoyable to read. Most of the time it made me feel slightly nausious, but I think that was what the writer and artist were going for. I am, however, glad that I read it. It was different and I can see why this thing has been talked about so much for all of these years. I think it stands the test of time as something unique.
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  • Tatiana
    May 4, 2009
    Frankly, I've always looked down on comic books and graphic novels. That is until I saw "Watchmen" - the movie that amazed me by its complexity and cleverness. Needless to say, I just had to see what kind of material it was based on. I wasn't disappointed. Let me start by saying that I though the movie did this book justice, especially visually. But reading this graphic novel just added an entire new layer to the story, making it even deeper and more complex than I thought it was. The characters Frankly, I've always looked down on comic books and graphic novels. That is until I saw "Watchmen" - the movie that amazed me by its complexity and cleverness. Needless to say, I just had to see what kind of material it was based on. I wasn't disappointed. Let me start by saying that I though the movie did this book justice, especially visually. But reading this graphic novel just added an entire new layer to the story, making it even deeper and more complex than I thought it was. The characters of Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Rorschach, and even Comedian were original and unforgettable. Bravo! - is all I can say. Highly recommend.
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  • Stuart
    June 6, 2013
    Watchmen: Changed the genre forever (Graphic Novel & Movie Review)Originally posted at Fantasy LiteratureWhat more can be said about this brilliant, game-changing graphic novel from 1987? It challenged, deconstructed, and redefined the superhero story to the point that it’s hard to imagine any comic book writer not being fully cognizant of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen when they put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). Despite it coming out almost 30 years ago, it’s remained continu Watchmen: Changed the genre forever (Graphic Novel & Movie Review)Originally posted at Fantasy LiteratureWhat more can be said about this brilliant, game-changing graphic novel from 1987? It challenged, deconstructed, and redefined the superhero story to the point that it’s hard to imagine any comic book writer not being fully cognizant of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen when they put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). Despite it coming out almost 30 years ago, it’s remained continuously in print with its iconic yellow smiley face with a drop of blood. Most fans consider it the greatest graphic novel ever written, and Time Magazine named it one of the 100 best English-language novels. I’m not an expert in comics or graphic novels, but I wouldn’t disagree. In fact, until recently it was the only graphic novel (other than Frank Miller’s SIN CITY series) I’d read in the past 25 years despite a life-long love of SFF.I think Watchmen addresses a lot of the reasons WHY I wasn’t interested in comics all that time. They’re right next to SFF books in the bookstore, and they feature stories that are mostly fantastic in nature. Not only that, but they having amazing cover artwork that really catches the eye. So what’s the problem? I guess my memories of comics are from the mid-1980s, and back then when I read G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS, I’m pretty sure I was just brain-washed by Hasbro. The stories weren’t great and neither was the artwork. I was never really interested in SUPERMAN, BATMAN, THE AVENGERS, X-MEN, etc. The stories seemed too simplistic (just a preconception – I didn’t actually read them) and filled with KAPOWS and THWACKTS ala Adam West’s classic Batman TV series. Once I was actively reading 500-page SFF novels as a teenager, I simply assumed that comics COULD NOT achieve the same depth of story and character that books can. However, over the last two decades Hollywood has discovered what an absolute treasure trove comic book superheroes are. They’re ready-made franchises with thousands of episodes and story-arcs, iconic characters that everyone knows, and tons of product tie-in potential. It’s been a bonanza for MARVEL and DC, the two industry heavy-hitters. And most people now know who Frank Miller and Stan Lee are. One of the biggest trends of more recent years has been the increasingly dark and complicated nature of super heroes. You need look no further that the original Tim Burton versions of Batman from the 1990s to the incredibly dark vision of Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT series.It’s very likely that Watchmen (and Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT reinterpretation) deserve a lot of credit for that trend toward dark, complicated, and twisted superheroes, to the point where the term “hero” comes into question. In Watchmen there may be a lot of characters dressed in costume, but you’d be hard-pressed to identify the “superheroes” among them. In fact, it’s fair to question whether they are “super” at all. The characters of Watchmen are all attracted to the idea of the “superhero”, that person with extraordinary abilities who uses them to fight crime and injustice. And while there is certainly one character (Doc Manhattan) who has incredible powers far beyond most superheroes, he is distant and uninvolved in human affairs despite his human origins and love interests. Watchmen asks the disarmingly simple question, “What is a superhero, and why would anyone want to be one?” I mean, they’re dressing up in tights and spandex and going around beating up criminals. That’s not a “normal” career. In fact, how do superheroes earn income? Do they pay taxes? Do they take those costumes to a dry-cleaners or hand-wash only? The more you think about it, the more ridiculous it sounds. We all know that crime pays, but what about crime-fighting? You don’t get much besides the keys to the city, a handshake from the mayor, and the thankful smiles of a grateful citizenry. So wanting to be a superhero is something internally-driven. Even then, why? The thrill of anonymity, perhaps, or the desire to become someone more exciting than the everyday prosaic middle-aged tax accountant with the nice house, pretty wife, 2 cars, golf membership, kids and a dog. Then again, maybe you really have a grudge against crime and want to champion the weak. You might have been the victim of a terrible crime and vowed to dedicate your life to protecting people from such a fate. Or maybe it just seemed like a cool idea and you didn’t have any other particular plans.There are so many themes explored in Watchmen that you could easily teach a college lit course about it, and there are in fact such classes, though I was never fortunate enough to take one. Our very own FanLit comic expert Brad tells me he has taught this text many times to many of his students. It’s guaranteed to produce a lot of amazing discussions, I’m sure. It’s also clearly intended to be read multiple times, and I’ve read it twice. So to avoid driving myself insane trying to cover every aspect of this multi-layered work of art, I’m going to stick to the central theme of “what is a superhero, and why be one?” One of the great aspects about Watchmen is that it is a deeply moral work that concerns itself with justice, free-will, evil, despotism, hubris, and yet it never spells out its agenda, or cheapens its characters by making them mouth-pieces for the author’s pet ideas. Of course each character explores aspects of the superhero concept, but none of them fit that Golden Age stereotype with bulging muscles, a square jaw and deep voice, and an untiring drive to fight crime.Below is a basic synopsis of the main characters of Watchmen. There is an earlier set of superheroes that arose in the 1940s and 1950s in this alternate reality, but I won’t even attempt to describe them. They form the basic conceptual framework for superheroes, but I’m most interested in the characters who drive the main story arc in the 1980s:THE COMEDIAN (Eddie Blake): This guy is a big, cynical and amoral thug. He revels in conflict and violence – although ostensibly falling under the “superhero” rubric, he quickly finds he has no problems taking down Latin American dictators as a government operative. He also takes great pleasure in killing “badguys”, which in Vietnam basically meant everyone opposed to US forces. Machine guns, flame throwers, fists & kicks, it’s all good to the Comedian. Because to him life is one big, ironic joke. The joke being that you’re a sucker if you believe there is any justice or purpose in our lives. The strong take what they want, and the weak don’t. Who would you rather be? His philosophical differences with Nite Owl are fascinating, and his emotional dealings with both iterations of Silk Spectre show his best and worst sides. RORSHACH (Walter Kovacs): Rorshach sees the world in black and white, a simple dualism of good and evil. He was bullied as a child, railed against his prostitute mother, and developed an intense and smoldering hatred for the worst aspects of humanity. This hatred is so all-consuming that it leaves little room for sympathy for the common man. As a form of self-validation, Rorshach spends all his time hunting down criminals of the streets, beating and killing them without mercy. Those that hurt children in particular draw his ire. Where he struggles is finding room for anything that doesn’t fit his ultra-narrow worldview. There are no grays in his moral universe, only black and white shifting but never mixing, like his mask. He is an angel of vengeance, a vigilante with the noblest intentions. But is he a hero, or a vigilante? Does purity of intent and purpose justify his ruthless killing? Readers who sympathize with Rorshach should examine their politics in other areas as well. Maybe he is right, maybe humanity is unworthy, but what an awful way to live each day. NITE OWL (Daniel Dreiberg): The modern-day Nite Owl is actually the second to wear the costume. Dan Dreiberg inherited a lot of money from his banker father, and has a deep love for flying machines and animals. One suspects he wishes he could just watch owls all day and fly with them. He was the crime-fighting sidekick of Rorshach and the Comedian, but has hung up the wings to do…nothing. His life seems fairly pointless after quitting crime-fighting. He tinkers in his place alone, only reliving the old times with weekly beer sessions with the senior Nite Owl. His characters is pretty wimpy until he catches Silk Spectre on the rebound from Doc Manhattan, at which points things spice up a bit. Although he is perhaps the most normal of the Watchmen, he is hardly heroic. OZYMANDIAS (Adrian Veidt): After retiring from crime-fighting, Adrian has become an extremely-successful businessman who is also “the smartest man in the world”. He is incredibly athletic and handsome, skilled at hand-to-hand combat, and markets his own training program. In other words, he’s that guy from high school everyone hates and envies. He runs Veidt Enterprises, and is something of an unholy combination of Tony Starks (rich, charismatic, brilliant) and Donald Trump (complete egomaniac, superiority complex). Adrian’s biggest problem is that he is so superior to the average man that he can’t help looking down on him. This causes him to hatch an elaborate and evil master-plan that any super villain would be proud of.SILK SPECTRE (Laurie Juspeczyk): Laurie is the weakest character in the group, and probably Moore’s least impressive creation. It seems clear that he had trouble coming up with a viable female superhero. One wonders what would happen if he had instead tried a Harley Quinn-type villain with some charm. Laurie’s mom was Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre, who had some ties to the Comedian in the past. Laurie grew up idolizing her superhero mom, and so has followed in her footsteps. However, her main purpose seems to be the love interest for Doc Manhattan, his last emotional connection to humanity. DOC MANHATTAN (Jon Osterman): He is by far the most interesting of Moore’s creations. Doc was a promising scientist studying particle physics. When an experiment goes terribly wrong, he is initially atomized before finding a way to reconstruct himself, atom by atom, and become this all-powerful blue man-figure with a great physique and disdain for clothing. He still stays with his girlfriend at the time, but the US military increasingly uses him for geopolitical power politics, particularly to maintain a precarious edge over the USSR in an alternate version of the Cold War (perhaps the only plot element that feels overly 1980s). The stresses of being used for his powers (including the Vietnam War) despite his growing disillusionment with the petty conflicts of humanity eventually spoils his relationship, but instead he shacks up with the Laurie, the younger iteration of Silk Spectre. She too suffers from his clumsy inability to understand the emotional needs of another human being, let alone a lover. We see Doc Manhattan wield almost unlimited powers over matter, creating and destroying at will. And yet when he gets completely fed up with the tawdry squabbles of mankind, he ditches Earth and heads to Mars for some R&R, meditating and creating a fantastic geodesic artifact to occupy himself. What we see in him is a far more realistic portrayal of what an all-powerful being is likely to behave like. Unlike Jehovah of the Old Testament, who is constantly punishing humanity for every little transgression like a petulant child smashing his toys, Doc Manhattan can’t be bothered with people. Seriously, why would you when the world of tachyons and quarks are so much more interesting. The other fascinating thing about Doc is that he lives in a quantum universe, so he experiences time as a continuum, seeing past, present, and future simultaneously. Moore really nails the mechanics of avoiding time paradoxes: my favorite pet peeve involves that hairy old chestnut “going back to change things”. It’s very simple, really: you can’t change anything because time already exists and is fixed. You can look up and down the line, but don’t think you can change it. This means that Doc knows the future but can’t do anything about it. That makes it pretty frustrating when Laurie tries to have conversations with him. It also makes the universe a very deterministic place and discounts the concept of free will. Even if we are free to make our choices, they have already been made in the quantum universe.So the clever reader must have noticed, where are all the super villains, the Jokers, Penguins, Magnetos, Green Goblins, Lex Luthors, etc? Haven’t figured it out yet? There are no super villains in the real world, silly, that’s just in comic books. And Watchmen is not some pulpy wish-fulfillment fantasy. It’s about the world you and I live in, filled with well-intentioned but imperfect people with passions, aspirations, dreams, psychoses, problems, frustrations and occasional triumphs like everyone else. It’s just that some of them wear costumes, that’s all.Dave Gibbon’s Artwork/Tales of the Black Freighter:The comic medium is distinct from novels because of the artwork, and the artwork of Watchmen is truly special. It is an example of total artistic commitment by both author and artist to achieve something never before seen in the genre. Dave Gibbons was given extremely detailed instructions by Moore for each frame, and they agree to use a 9-panel layout to give a uniform structure, unlike the more common variable size/number of panels. Gibbons inserted an incredible number of details into each panel, especially the various textual media found throughout the book, such as newspapers, graffiti, TV screens, book covers, etc. Much of these visual clues point to the impending countdown of the doomsday clock ticking down to nuclear Armageddon. There is also the pervasive metaphor of the smiley face button, which the Comedian uses for ironic purposes, but I see the iconic image of the drop of blood covering the face as a clever metaphor for how the innocent ideal of comic book heroism is tainted by the violence and death of the real world. There is such a wealth of visual details in the book, not to mention the book-within-a-book horrific pirate story called Tales of the Black Freighter, that I have never seen in graphic novels before. And the crowning touches are the inserts between chapters of excerpts from the autobiography of Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl) that describe the origins of the first generation of superheroes (the Minutemen) in the 1940-50s, articles describing the history of Doc Manhattan and his impact on the Cold War, a description of the artists involved in early pirate comics, police documents of Rorshach, snippets from the New Frontiersman newspaper, even super-realistic notes from a Hollywood producer corresponding with Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre. The verisimilitude and depth achieved with these interludes gives Watchmen the feel of a completely three-dimensional experience, encompassing storyline, character history, story-within-story, and visual elements. Watchmen Film (2009, directed by Zack Snyder)It was inevitable that a graphic novel as epic and complex as Watchmen would attract the attention of filmmakers. However, as is frequently a case with such a dense and complicated storyline, finding the right people to come up with the right screenwriters, producers, directors, and studio is an extremely difficult task. So the film got bounced around Hollywood for years and years, with directors and producers as diverse as Joel Silver, Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, and Paul Greenglass before the stars aligned and Zack Snyder was given the nod thanks to his distinctive visual work on Frank Miller’s 300.The film version has a big budget of $120 million but hardly any major household names. The costs mostly involve the elaborate sets and special effects. The Watchmen graphic novel served as the storyboard. Visually, fans of the original will immediately recognize scene after scene from the comic, and Snyder did an excellent job bringing the dark and dystopian tone of the book to the screen. He also brings strength in the kinetic and violent action sequences, especially with sudden switches to slow motion in mid fight. The faithful careful attention to details extents to the beautiful geodesic glass artifact constructed by Doc Manhattan on Mars. It looks exactly as I envisioned it from Dave Gibbon’s artwork.The acting isn’t quite as strong as the visual work, but I was satisfied with the fiercely uncompromising Rorshach and cynical Comedian. Nite Owl was played accurately as a fairly milquetoast aging superhero who has almost forgotten his glorious crime-fighting past, but I enjoyed his character when he finally takes out the Owlship with Silk Spectre to break Rorshach out of prison. The weakest actor by far played Silk Spectre, but a lot of my dislike may be more towards the character than the performance. Although Doc Manhattan is portrayed using CG, the actor Billy Crudup shot the scenes with the other actors. I like his cool and distant voice, it worked well with character. Alan Moore refuses to have any involvement with film adaptations of his works, so writers David Hayter and Alex Tse were free to reshape Watchmen into something that could fit within the confines of a 2 ½ hour film. I think the two best decisions made in cutting down the story include removing all the Tales of the Black Freighter from the film, since this really was intended for readers of the comic as a tribute to pirate comics, and wouldn’t have worked in the movie as it lacks any direct connection with the story. I also liked how they and Snyder used the opening frames of the movie to depict the early Minutemen superheroes in technique that allows real-life stills to mimic photographs, but still retain some motion. This way viewers get a taste of what the early superheroes looked like without having to devote lengthy screen time to their backstories.The biggest change made was to the final climactic scenes in Antarctica as Rorshach, Nite Owl, and Doc Manhattan attempt to foil Ozymandias’ evil master-plan. I actually thought this was overly complex and difficult to understand in book. (view spoiler)[ Teleporting some freakish alien monster, whose brain was cloned from a human psychotic, into New York City in order to use the massive psychic shockwave from its brain to kill half the city? And this will somehow unite the warring superpowers against a common enemy? Perhaps this was a conscious dig by Moore at the implausibility of master plans by comic book villains? Since the rest of Watchmen seems very realistic within the alternate reality created by Moore, this part of the story struck me as farfetched. So I was actually quite happy when the film version made Ozymandias’ plan more concise and sensible. By simulating nuclear attacks in cities around the world and framing Doc Manhattan for it, this would be more likely to unite the world against Doc Manhattan, thereby completely alienating him from humanity and also eliminating him as a rival to Adrian Veight’s plan to rule the world in the aftermath. (hide spoiler)]I’ve heard that many Watchmen fans really hated the film version, but I didn’t feel that way at all. While the film of necessity had to shed many of the side and back stories and incredible background details that make the graphic novel so rich, I think they retained the important aspects of the storyline and focused on them. I also think the film piqued the interest of many viewers to give the graphic novel a try, directing new blood to the comic/graphic novel genre. There are so many disastrous comic book adaptations out there, so Zack Snyder’s film is much better than that.
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  • John Wiswell
    August 9, 2007
    I admire Alan Moore as a public figure and regard how much he apparently shook up superhero comics. That’s not going to make me like The Watchmen. Fundamentally, every character felt like the same uninspired shape, that jaded celebrity in search of catharsis at the expense of someone else. I held out hope for The Comedian to play a dynamic personality, for if ever a universe needed The Joker to kick it in the ass, it was this one. Instead, The Comedian turned out to be the apex cynic, and so I d I admire Alan Moore as a public figure and regard how much he apparently shook up superhero comics. That’s not going to make me like The Watchmen. Fundamentally, every character felt like the same uninspired shape, that jaded celebrity in search of catharsis at the expense of someone else. I held out hope for The Comedian to play a dynamic personality, for if ever a universe needed The Joker to kick it in the ass, it was this one. Instead, The Comedian turned out to be the apex cynic, and so I didn't care who killed him, I didn't care why Rorschach was torturing people, and I definitely didn't care about the world going to hell because it was so obviously not in contention. This was just more bleak fiction where, naturally, things go to hell. That's not conflict. That's as destined an ending as happiness at the end of an episode of Care Bears.There's craft to this, and I won't pretend otherwise. Gibbons throws talent at the project, with striking angles on many panels, a strong sense of color, and moments of brilliance, like Rorschach's mask mimicking the clouds he watches. And Moore obviously wrote this as a dissection, with ample references to the American superhero comics he's critiquing by making people similar to them miserable. It was simply too dreary and monotonous an experience to feel worth it.The Watchmen is considered one of the most important comic books in history, and I won't pretend its hype didn't hurt my experience of it. If not for so many people telling me to read it, I might have dismissed it as more violent maudlin SF. Hype and legacy are not its fault, and I regretted gritting my teeth against those elements.Because man, the costumes are less spectacular, the origins more bleak, the heroes more despicable and/or self-loathing, the villains almost non-existent, the relationships more strained and the political overtones more blatant than were almost ever seen in mainstream comics before. The comic’s effects were massive: it ushered in a new wave of "cool," where Superman and Spider-Man were lame, and everyone wanted murderous and self-destructive anti-heroes. This movement spawned approximately ten good characters and millions of pages of worthless crap, so I'm still not sure why its existence as critique considered a good thing, but it's certainly a landmark in the history of comic book writers who were so self-loathing they had to call their work "graphic novels." I found it simply painful to read back then and not worth owning today. Behind what has fast become the cliché of comics (and popular film in general) are some slivers of real humanity and possible redemption or at least love, which are vital. Yet new readers who pick this up today are going to wonder what was so important about a slow, long, drawn-out murder mystery surrounding sociopaths, rapists and killers who call themselves superheroes, yet who only care about each other when they die, in a dated dystopia that isn't even half as self-aware, cynical or meaningful as what's being pumped out today.
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  • Rainbow
    July 21, 2011
    My friend Lynn was reading this book, so I reread it (for the first time in at least 15 years) so we could talk about it.I was torn about how many stars to give it. On the one hand, I think it's a breathtaking, fascinating accomplishment. On the other hand, I find it really grim and depressing.I went with five stars because, technically, five stars means "it was amazing." And it was that.But I don't think I'll reread it for at least another 15 years.
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  • Kat
    January 28, 2009
    Basic Plot: Someone has murdered the "hero" the Comedian, and the retired costumed heroes begin to investigate, turning up all kinds of nasty messes.I'm seriously tempted to give spoilers here, as the book was utterly mind-blowing (GAH! Rorschach! GAH!), and there were some serious twists in the book that, while I can't say I didn't see them coming, still really affected me strongly.This is not a comic book for those who want their superheroes infallible icons of Americana. This is a graphic nov Basic Plot: Someone has murdered the "hero" the Comedian, and the retired costumed heroes begin to investigate, turning up all kinds of nasty messes.I'm seriously tempted to give spoilers here, as the book was utterly mind-blowing (GAH! Rorschach! GAH!), and there were some serious twists in the book that, while I can't say I didn't see them coming, still really affected me strongly.This is not a comic book for those who want their superheroes infallible icons of Americana. This is a graphic novel in every sense of the phrase. The violence is graphic, but not gratuitously so. It is there for impact upon the reader, and it works. There is nudity and sex, but again, never gratuitous. This novel showcases the sort of "behind the scenes" stuff that was never really shown in all the golden and silver age comic books. You almost know reading those old books that there's a seedier underside to the comic world that's only ever hinted at in most older books. Watchmen lifts up the sewer lid and shoves you down the hole to see just how deep the crap can pile up down there.If I have one complaint about this book it's that I figured out all the twists and turns way too early. But I am an English teacher, after all, and I'm sort of trained to note foreshadowing and whatnot. It was still a fun ride, though, and watching the characters react to what was going on made the whole trip very worthwhile.Fantastic writing. Art is kind of old school, but still good. The only thing there that consistently bugged me was the original Silk Spectre's hairdo. *shudder*
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  • Argona
    March 30, 2015
    First, I should mention that I usually read for pleasure and therefore, I rate most of my books based on how much I enjoy reading them. But every once in a while, I make myself read a certain book for the literature value it has or for the sheer reason that I think I should. *Watchmen" was one of these cases. I don't regret reading it. I can see why this book has such a significant value as a comic. The ending was specially a very nice surprise and I find it very refreshing when I think of all t First, I should mention that I usually read for pleasure and therefore, I rate most of my books based on how much I enjoy reading them. But every once in a while, I make myself read a certain book for the literature value it has or for the sheer reason that I think I should. *Watchmen" was one of these cases. I don't regret reading it. I can see why this book has such a significant value as a comic. The ending was specially a very nice surprise and I find it very refreshing when I think of all the comic books that exist to depict Superheroes and their struggle to save the world but Seriously, the journey was....BORING! If I wasn't reading this in a buddy read with my amazing friend, Roya, I would have skipped to the very last chapter and I think I would have been FINE. Yes, It's a Hugo Award-winning graphic novel that has appeared in Time magazine's "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels" list. I will say it again, I am one of those people that prefer to enjoy what they read. If there is real depth to the story, even better! I LOVE anti-heroes and this COMIC still bored me. The problem is that I don't think of these characters as real anti-heroes. They are not flawed human beings that are forced into difficult situations and have to make difficult choices. If that's what you want, try "Batman"! These characters are mostly pathetic, annoying, selfish, bitchy and need professional help and shouldn't be responsible for their own health and safety, let alone the freaking humanity! There were nice characters too but they either lost their touch along the way or didn't actually get to do anything! When reading an award-wining comic that "chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin", boredom shouldn't be an issue!It's indeed very unique and definitely has literature value but I simply don't see all the fuss and find it overrated. For me, It was simply too busy trying to be deep and teach the readers a lesson while there wasn't any real depth to it and I actually didn't learn anything. There wasn't anything to learn. I don't even agree with this comic's philosophy, if there is actually any. I am a realistic person that tries to stay positive and I believe while humanity is not perfect, it's not hopeless and in my opinion, the story failed to prove that. It failed to prove the value of life, love and hope! Yes, there is some insight and wisdom SOMEWHERE in this novel but not enough.*hides from the angry mob* Lastly, most of the costumes are SUPER lame and I don't care how old this comic is. These are drawings, they didn't have to actually make these costumes back then and I can't get over these characters' awful sense of fashion. In conclusion, I liked it but it's not really that spectacular and I recommend it if you want to read all the classic and award-wining books in the world or if you are really into philosophy and headache.
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  • Argona
    October 28, 2013
    First, I should mention that I usually read for pleasure and therefore, I rate most of my books based on how much I enjoy reading them. But every once in a while, I make myself read a certain book for the literature value it has or for the sheer reason that I think I should. *Watchmen" was one of these cases. I don't regret reading it. I can see why this book has such a significant value as a comic. The ending was specially a very nice surprise and I find it very refreshing when I think of all t First, I should mention that I usually read for pleasure and therefore, I rate most of my books based on how much I enjoy reading them. But every once in a while, I make myself read a certain book for the literature value it has or for the sheer reason that I think I should. *Watchmen" was one of these cases. I don't regret reading it. I can see why this book has such a significant value as a comic. The ending was specially a very nice surprise and I find it very refreshing when I think of all the comic books that exist to depict Superheroes and their struggle to save the world but Seriously, the journey was....BORING!If I wasn't reading this in a buddy read with my amazing friend, Roya, I would have skipped to the very last chapter and I think I would have been FINE. Yes, It's a Hugo Award-winning graphic novel that has appeared in Time magazine's "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels" list. I will say it again, I am one of those people that prefer to enjoy what they read. If there is real depth to the story, even better!I LOVE anti-heroes and this COMIC still bored me. The problem is that I don't think of these characters as real anti-heroes. They are not flawed human beings that are forced into difficult situations and have to make difficult choices. If that's what you want, try "Batman"! These characters are mostly pathetic, annoying, selfish, bitchy and need professional help and shouldn't be responsible for their own health and safety, let alone the freaking humanity! There were nice characters too but they either lost their touch along the way or didn't actually get to do anything! When reading an award-wining comic that "chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin", boredom shouldn't be an issue!It's indeed very unique and definitely has literature value but I simply don't see all the fuss and find it overrated. For me, It was simply too busy trying to be deep and teach the readers a lesson while there wasn't any real depth to it and I actually didn't learn anything. There wasn't anything to learn. I don't even agree with this comic's philosophy, if there is actually any. I am a realistic person that tries to stay positive and I believe while humanity is not perfect, it's not hopeless and in my opinion, the story failed to prove that. It failed to prove the value of life, love and hope! Yes, there is some insight and wisdom SOMEWHERE in this novel but not enough.*hides from the angry mob*Lastly, most of the costumes are SUPER lame and I don't care how old this comic is. These are drawings, they didn't have to actually make these costumes back then and I can't get over these characters' awful sense of fashion.In conclusion, I liked it but it's not really that spectacular and I recommend it if you want to read all the classic and award-wining books in the world or if you are really into philosophy and headache.
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  • Jonathan
    April 21, 2012
    I refuse to let the hype of this novel influence me. And so here is my statement about the book in one sentence: I liked the story but the philosophy behind the novel I did not like. Watchmen - many people know the idea behind the title 'Who will watch the Watchmen' - but not everyone has read this acclaimed novel. As the title suggests it is a graphic novel that deals with the idea of who exists to watch the superheroes if they go out of control. And really, part of my problem with reading this I refuse to let the hype of this novel influence me. And so here is my statement about the book in one sentence: I liked the story but the philosophy behind the novel I did not like. Watchmen - many people know the idea behind the title 'Who will watch the Watchmen' - but not everyone has read this acclaimed novel. As the title suggests it is a graphic novel that deals with the idea of who exists to watch the superheroes if they go out of control. And really, part of my problem with reading this novel is that when a hero goes out of control you get a villain. I don't subscribe to the idea of the anti-hero like many people. I believe in absolutes and as such I think that the hero is the character who performs more good than he does evil. In the end of this novel the whole idea of what Watchmen is really trying to convey wraps together. It's really about psychological conflict, about Nihilism and about the Jungian shadow. Many psychological theories I do not subscribe to but find useful to use as discussion points. Because I do not believe that the world is all full of darkness and evil when you strip it down as Watchmen appears to portray. I believe that there is much evil in life but that there is also hope and light for anyone to see. I did not like either the idea that perhaps in order to create greater good we must compromise. But then I suppose that was the whole point of the novel. The novel was full of compromise made by these super men who are really very human in morality. As Rorschach* says "No, never compromise." Of course it could simply be the spirit within me that says 'I dislike non Justice League DC comics on the whole.' After all for me while Marvel make few brilliant comics for me to enjoy I do rate them still highly due to the overall story telling in them. DC just don't have the fun of Marvel - they're too dark and gloomy except when the Joker plays with Batman or Superman battles a few enemies. On that note Marvel reigns supreme and The Avengers is one of the greatest films of all. *Named after the blot test and definitely the most interesting character in the comics as a violent vigilante
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  • Vladan
    March 8, 2015
    Remek delo!Iako je stil crtanja kao iz 30-tih godina proslog veka, prica je genijalna i brutalna (stvarno brutalna).Super junaci na kakve nismo navikli.