Dan Domme's Reviews > Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
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Aug 15, 08

bookshelves: graphic-novels, 2008-challenge
Recommended to Dan by: Time magazine
Recommended for: Anyone who's willing to view comics as an art form
Read in April, 2008

In the entire set of books I've read (and there are more than the few on my profile), I've only reread two. Watchmen is one of them. First, being a graphic novel, it's fairly easy to reread. However, even if it were a printed novel of more than four hundred words, I imagine I'd still be rereading it, because it's a great piece of literature.

But then, one of its key successes is what Moore tried to use it to prove - that comics can achieve things that neither film nor printed novels can. (I use "comics" out of respect for Moore, who as I understand it, didn't like the term "graphic novel.") It's easy to dismiss the whole medium of comics after associating them with superhero-based periodical magazines seemingly fueled by sugar and adrenaline, a few steps away from being printed versions of adventurous Saturday morning cartoons. Watchmen changed that and showed that comics could be used to create something great and truly artistic.

This is literature.

It is ironic then, that Moore does this by using superheroes and masked vigilantes. However, every single one of them has their own flaws and depths. Most have a chapter dedicated mainly to them, so that you can gain an appreciation for their character. By far the most popular character to try to dissect is Rorschach, the trenchcoat-clad vigilante whose journal helps narrate the book. As the plot progresses, we can see both a perception of the world that is devoid of any existence of morality and a deep-rooted desire to uphold certain values and principles at any cost.

I imagine that many people will be reading this book in the coming months as the upcoming movie adaptation is hyped amongst the circles of the book's adoring fans. With the degree of achievement that this comic represents, it is not a question of how well the movie will succeed in recreating Watchmen, but how little it will fail. It is hard to imagine a comic approaching this level of perfection again.

There will likely be some who cannot get past the concept of reading a comic and taking it seriously, thus putting it down soon after they start reading. If you've never read comics before, then this book will change your views on what they are able to accomplish, as long as you are able to check any preconceptions at the door. If you have read comics before, but you've never read Watchmen, then be prepared to drink from the Holy Grail.
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