Tracy's Reviews > Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
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Mar 04, 09

bookshelves: own, 2009, graphic-novels, alternate-history, sci-fi
Read in March, 2009

A complex and thought-provoking read, you should definitely read this before you see the movie.

Watchmen is the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published in 1986 by DC Comics, that changed the way many people viewed comic books. Originally published as a series of twelve issues, the the compiled series was one of the first, along with the famous Dark Knight series by Frank Miller, to be called a graphic novel. The simple name change was coupled with a darker and more realistic look at traditional comic subject matter - superheroes - and has led to widespread recognition of the literary merits of the medium.

Watchmen is set in the late 1980s and offers an alternate history whose main difference is the existence of superheroes. While most of these heroes are simply regular people who wear costumes to fight crime anonymously, there is one character with genuine superpowers, Dr. Manhattan. This simple but significant change has led to a vastly different present - America did not lose Vietnam, Richard Nixon is still president, and the Cold War rages more fiercely, if more unevenly. The plot centers around these heroes now living in and attempting to cope with a society that has rejected their help, even when most still feel compelled to give it.

The wide cast of characters and rich world are revealed slowly throughout the novel, with so many details that new ones continue to appear on multiple read-throughs. The art is detailed and incredibly expressive, with darker, moody colors, giving the story life and immediacy.

Watchmen explores themes of violence, sin, justice, and the impulse to do right. This was one of the first comics to turn the superhero mythos on its head, questioning the need for such heroes in the first place. In that it deals with superheroes dressed in silly costumes, has a male-dominated cast with a few attractive and scantily-clad females, and is bathed in violence, it holds to traditional comics, but it takes these factors and turns them inside out, sharply critiquing each while offering a host of other issues, political and moral, to wrestle. While it has been the inspiration for a whole new genre of the gritty, tortured superhero trying to operate in the real world, this original has substance and charisma to spare.
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message 1: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J Are you thinking of becoming a book reviewer now?


Tracy J wrote: "Are you thinking of becoming a book reviewer now?"

I sometimes write book reviews for our local ALT newsletter - this is what I wrote for this issue. I also put some up on my website and on Amazon, but not as often as I'd like.

So I guess I already am, as much as I want to be.



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