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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 assassinOne 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


10 thoughts on “Watchmen

  1. says:

    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 specialThe 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 comicsMoore 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 doIt 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 peopleIndeed 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 geneticsThey 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 unstableMany 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 unjustifiedWe 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 otherWe 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 uestion himself and so becomes a force of his own violent affirmationMost 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 politicsThe 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 euating 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 forceThe 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 suabbles by force won't actually solve anything It won't put people on the same page and will only create conflict and ineuality 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 than you or I would crush the ants of one colony to promote the otherThe 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 fitMoore's strength as a writer even 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 writerMany 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 reuisite 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 funSo 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 narrativeI 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 dishUnlike 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 remarkable That means that Moore used an extremely stylized techniue so well that it didn't interfere with the story at allBut 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 ideasWhile 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 cultureIt 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 charactersHis 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 beMoore never insults the intelligence of his readers and so creates a work with 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 uestion 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 worldWatchmen 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 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


  2. says:

    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 failingsAlan 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 This is a deconstruction of the superhero an examination of the overlap between man and Superman a recognition that we're none of us capable of handling the responsibility that comes hand in hand with power and that talent or strength whether human or superhuman do not somehow erase or overcome the moral and mental frailties that are a part of the human condition 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 punchlineThis 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 Join my 3 emails a year newsletter #prizes


  3. says:

    A 88% | Extraordinary Notes Constantly captured by its brilliance it's a comic book chef d'œuvre with meaty text and a complex layered storyline


  4. says:

    Morality is a fickle bitch This is simply put iconic When any one mentions comicsgraphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen I think there is a strong reason for it It made me uestion 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 uniue 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 uestions 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 uestion his results? His methods are clearly debatable though it was the only route open to him There is simply no uantifiable 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 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 uestion 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 uestioning 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?


  5. says:

    2020 Coronavirus ReviewI originally thought that Watchmen didn't initially impress me because it was the first graphic novel I'd read as an adult Maybe I didn't have enough experience with all the actual garbage out there and couldn't yet appreciate Moore's geniusNow after slogging through his masterpiece with than a few comics under my belt I feel confident when I say that I don't like this all that much The art is horrible and almost every panel is crammed with words Most of them meaningless ramblings that sound like something your drunk uncle spouts at the family reunion when he's trying to sound deep and thoughtfulEveryone else heads back to the kitchen to get potato salad leaving Uncle Alan with whatever poor nephew he's cornered to be harrassed with reminisces of back in the day and observations on why the world's gone to shit But worse than the panels of art packed with wordy musings are the straight up book pagesPage after page of a bio about the 'comic' that the kid at the newsstand is reading? Why? Why is there a backstory about the writer of a fake pirate comic that is being read inside another comic? Then 3 pages on some guy Dan? waxing poetic about getting scared in a parking lot when an owl screeched?GetthefuckoutofhereMoore is bordering on abusive with this sort of thingSome of it was mildly interesting however none of it ultimately pushed the plot forward I didn't mind the stuff about Sally Jupiter but it could have been cut in half I didn't need all of that nonsenseThe last 100 pages pick up the pace a little Which means that it's almost as interesting as any decent comic you pick up today Not a good one A decent oneAnd the conclusion is so unbelievably underwhelming It had been so many years since I'd read it that I couldn't uite remember how it all went down so there was still an element of surprise And yetThat was it?Yes I'm 100% sure this was absolutely groundbreaking when it first came out but looking at it now than 10 years after I first read it? I don't think it has aged well my personal opinionAnd unfortunately since I didn't read it when it first came out I don't have the benefit of rose colored nostalgia goggles to put on when I try to read this massive bastard so I'm at a loss to explain why this is so revered Part of the problem for me was that the characters in this were all weirdly anemic andor horrible Yes people can be awful But there's no one in this story who wasn't gross or pathetic That's not any realistic than a story that has only sunshine and unicorn farts People are not as bad as all this But beyond this unrealistically gloomy look at humanity my main issue with the comic was just simple boredom Not much actually happens that would support this book being so long The pirate story was a weird filler that didn't ultimately add anything to the overall story all of the reprinted excerpts from fake booksbiosnotes and whatthefuckevers were a tedious time suck that also added very little to the plot and the characters themselves were mostly so repulsive dull that I couldn't really muster up any fucks for themOk now before anyone gets their panties in a twist this is just my experience reading rereading this book That doesn't mean I think anyone who loves this is silly or stupid It just wasn't my cuppaOriginal Review 2009view spoilerOk 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 nauseous 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 uniue hide spoiler


  6. says:

    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 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 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 film Watchmen 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 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 taleReview re posted October 2019 in anticipation of the upcoming HBO re boot This will not be a re make of the 2009 film but uses the graphic novel as a starting point branching far from the original material Should be interesting


  7. says:

    I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels The plot is complex it’s uniue 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 stuffI 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 STORIESI 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 novelsThis 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 ENGAGEDA lot of these graphic novels and stuff seem to think that if they simply tickle your creative brain they’ve succeeded I want – 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 boredomI 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 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 notWatchmen 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 uestion of why humans can be drawn to the edge of doom and what they need to do to stop just at the edgeOh 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


  8. says:

    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 boringTo 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 thingsWhile 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


  9. says:

    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 ridiculousThe Incredibles 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 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 Its postmodern complex Let us hope the film comes close to matching its genius


  10. says:

    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 wayThe 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