Cathy 's Reviews > Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
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Feb 26, 09

bookshelves: fantasy, graphic-novel, urban, read-in-2009
Read in February, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Overall, these 2 quotes are the book in a nutshell:

Rorshack says in chapter 2, "Nothing is hopeless. Not while there's life." Extremely interesting considering the source.


Hollis Mason in his autobiography: "Real life is messy, inconsistent, and it's seldom when anything ever really gets resolved." So is this book!


One of the major themes is whether to act or be disengaged. A small subplot that demonstrates this is the story of Malcolm, Rorschach's prison psychiatrist, and his wife, Gloria. He gets so involved with his patients that he ruins his marriage and ends up in a deep despair (prompted by Rorschach's poisonous mentality). Yet at the end, in Chapter 11, when he sees a woman being assaulted in the street he cannot walk away, even though Gloria demands it on pain of losing her forever. She tells him on page 20, "Don't you dare get involved..." and he replies, "...I have to. In a world like this... I mean, it's all we can do, try to help each other. It's all that means anything..."

This reflects back to Rorschach's remembrance of Kitty Genovese's story and it's impact on his becoming a masked vigilante. I identified with this because it's a story I never forgot. We learned about it in school as kids, the story of the woman brutally raped and murdered while more than 30 of her neighbors watched or listened from the safety of their homes and did nothing, not even calling the police. I think of it every time I hear a disturbance outside of my house, wondering if this is the time I need to get involved, if it's just kids horsing around or a serious problem and what I should do.

The other major theme I identified is whether it is ever possible to do good by doing evil. Hiroshima (questionable), the final reveal in this book (clear-cut to me). And Guantanamo (also clear-cut to me). I have to reject the idea that anything good can ever come from acts of torture or devastation. I think what's happened in this country with the election of President Obama shows that there is hope for a positive path forward, that the use of fear and hatred as a motivation isn't the only option. Despair can be contagious, but so can hope.

But what about the basic concept of vigilante justice? Is it ever ok to break the law? Doesn't that encourage the dissolution of the basic compact of law that holds society together? Yet is it right to sit back and not act if you see something that needs to be done? Are there ways to work within the system to improve things? What happens when the system fails?

A picky detail that bothered me throughout the book was the weird bolding of words. It often didn't seem to be for emphasis or make sense.

The discussion of costume issues by Nite Owl was interesting - armor safety vs. flexibility, how to use a mask without getting caught, capes can be dangerous, too. I've always wondered how each superhero makes their costume, how many they have, how they get the blood out, etc. Not everyone has a mom back in Iowa who can sew! I liked that Nite Owl doesn't take it too seriously, understood that guys in costumes look silly.

Overall, a very complex, fascinating and enjoyable book that I would wholeheartedly recommend.
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Reading Progress

02/19/2009 page 53
12.74% "I'm finally getting into the swing of the comic book format, and the story. It's do dark! A bit confusing to follow the time changes, but ve"
02/20/2009 page 64
15.38% "Very intense, lots of foreshadowing. Very complex characters for so little text. LOVE the costume issues -capes are dangerous!"
02/20/2009 page 96
23.08% ""Real life is messy, inconsistent, and it's seldom when anything ever really gets resolved." Also, do we need villains to have heroes?"
02/22/2009 page 124
29.81% "Another watchmaker's son! Is this where Heroes got it from? Chap 4 is poignant re: Dr. M & brief mention of Comedian in Vietnam."
02/22/2009 page 128
30.77% "Not much momentum at this point somehow - I wonder if I'd have bought the next edition?"
02/23/2009 page 143
34.38% "Pace had picked up. Ironic somehow that Veidt fights guy with giant ashtray, very '80s."
02/23/2009 page 160
38.46% "Very deep, lots of big reveals. Too many too soon? I know, I complain it's too slow, then too fast.
Why do I make so many notes on this"
02/23/2009 page 219
52.64% "Remember when there was no tv at night, just static? I'd actually forgotten.
Woo hoo! Love and crimefighting!"
02/24/2009 page 234
56.25% "Actual cutting and pasting a newspaper! Like my newsletter at my first job after college, but not for long."
02/24/2009 page 238
57.21% "I love the way small moments are used to show big sweeps of story. The tv news about masked vigilantes, war & Rorschach's victim while pumpk"
02/24/2009 page 240
57.69% "Comparison to Klan. Is vigilantism ever ok? Is breaking the law ever ok?"
02/24/2009 page 284
68.27% "Every baby is a miracle. I realized that in advanced biology in 12th grade. Glad Jon agrees."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Jill I read the bolding of words not so much as emphasis but for inflection. They were just the words that received more stress in a sentence.


Cathy I just don't remember it making much sense which were bold or not. Maybe I should have tried reading it out loud? I've decided that in general I'm not a graphic novel person, my mind just doesn't grasp the flow of it very well, both the text and images. I'm sure it's partly an acquired skill though. I still read one here and there when books I like get adapted, so I'm learning slowly. I like a lot of the darker stories that just can't be found in regular print, so I want to learn.


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