Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
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Jul 20, 2010

bookshelves: john, staff-picks-blog, graphic-novels

The mere appearance of the trailer for Watchmen before The Dark Knight send demand of the graphic novel though the roof, and five more copies are on the way. It’s scheduled to be next year’s blockbuster superhero movie, so, I thought, what better time to reread it?

It’s a mindblower all right, a dense, complex story, which, along with Frank Miller’s book version of Dark Knight, was among the first comics to question the conventions of the superhero genre, raising questions about, for instance, why people wear silly costumes to fight crime, whether vigilantes are different from the criminals they fight, and the relationship of us nonpowered types to someone who can leap tall buildings with a single bound. In addition, Alan Moore touches on deeper issues about the moral nature of universe we live in. He also exploits the medium’s possibilities about as well as anyone ever has, weaving two or three storylines together, then juxtaposing pictures that undercut what the words tell us.

Did I mention it’s a great read? The characters are vivid, and the story’s many twists continue to the last panel. There are several textual interludes, which you have my permission to skip, tho if you enjoy the story, they’ll deepen your understanding. (Don’t skip the gruesome pirate comic a minor character reads.) It is over twenty years old, so younger readers may be confused by some of the Cold War references. While singling out one graphic novel (or song, or painting) as the best is a pretty silly exercise, this would certainly be among a handful of contenders. --John

From ICPL Staff Picks Blog
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