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In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect. Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy. As the resolution comes to a head, the unlikely group of reunited heroes - Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias - have to test the limits of their convictions and ask themselves where the true line is between good and evil.

In the mid-eighties, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen, changing the course of comics' history and essentially remaking how popular culture perceived the genre. Popularly cited as the point where comics came of age, Watchmen's sophisticated take on superheroes has been universally acclaimed for its psychological depth and realism.

Watchmen is collected here in deluxe hardcover, with sketches, extra bonus material and a new introduction by series artist Dave Gibbons.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Alan Moore

855 books18.9k followers
Alan Moore is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore is notable for being one of the first writers to apply literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium. As well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes, he brings a wide range of influences to his work, from the literary–authors such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair; New Wave science fiction writers such as Michael Moorcock; horror writers such as Clive Barker; to the cinematic–filmmakers such as Nicolas Roeg. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,237 reviews
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,424 followers
December 4, 2013
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 special.

The 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 comics.

Moore 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 do.

It 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 people.

Indeed, 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 genetics.

They 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 unstable.

Many 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 unjustified.

We 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 other.

We 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 question himself, and so becomes a force of his own violent affirmation.

Most 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 politics.

The 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 equating 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 force.

The 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 squabbles by force won't actually solve anything. It won't put people on the same page, and will only create more conflict and inequality. 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 more than you or I would crush the ants of one colony to promote the other.

The 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 fit.

Moore's strength as a writer--even more 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 writer.

Many 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 requisite 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 fun.

So, 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 narrative.

I 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 dish.

Unlike 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 more remarkable. That means that Moore used an extremely stylized technique so well that it didn't interfere with the story at all.

But 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 ideas.

While 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 culture.

It 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 characters.

His 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 be.

Moore never insults the intelligence of his readers, and so creates a work with more 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 question 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 world.

Watchmen 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 more 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
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 74 books50.5k followers
June 20, 2022
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 failings.

Alan 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 punchline:

This 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!


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Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
733 reviews3,398 followers
May 29, 2022
The Lord of the Rings, Avengers Universe, 1984, etc. just pick your favorite genre comparison, of dark, dirty graphic novels.

No one is completely evil or good
Everyone has reasons for being the monster, good person, or something in between, always haunted by past traumas. Much of the complex, brilliant plot is directly connected to the protagonists´ backstories, which makes it even more compelling, because the reader is expecting and getting what she/he is waiting for. Especially the evolution from weak to superhuman, more and less powerful, and the thereby modified morality, ambitions, and personal goals of the characters are used to demonstrate the inner fragmentation of human psyches, no matter how demolished and totally wasted they already were before.

This white and grey morality
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
with all its cognitive biases, filter bubbles, ivory towers, and even stranger metaphors still to be developed (in the age of cyberpsychology and coming VR and mind upload psychology and the even more interesting psychopathology and psychiatry) is maybe the driving force of this thing. Not the violence, action, complex plots, but the underlying question of what makes one humans´ hell cellar sex slave dungeon anothers´ heaven and how everyone can justify even the worst actions with ideology or personal identification and emotional connection to the torture instrument, fetish object, or weapon of mass destruction.
It´s much more easygoing and mentally comfortable to stay with black and white morality
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
although this can easily escalate to black and white insanity, but most people don´t even notice that jump on the madness scale because they´re already in the zone.
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...

Maybe one has to be a bit crazy to create something like that
Moore is not just a bit controversial, he´s closer to the crazy artist stereotype than most in the already wacky creative business.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Mo...
I don´t really want to discriminate average normies, boring and coward opportunists, here, but the statistical distribution of madness and substance abuse in arts tends to, ahem, slightly tend towards authors. Maybe because living in ones´ head is like a permanent finger on the red bonkers button, while extroverted people getting their kick from others are more endangered by being made crazy by their fellow naked apes or, strangely, their absence in the case of isolation. Which kind of closes the circle back to the mad maverick again. „But I am really normal and mentally healthy!“ Of course he is.

Might be over my head
Especially because it´s often described as a kind of meta hommage to graphic novels and comics in general, there are certainly tons of elements I can´t get with my poor, current knowledge, because I have to grow my beard regarding these genres. Things that seem to be often mentioned in context with this work are praising the genre, genre deconstruction, deep and complex milestone of the genre, the mentioned morality compass, so I´ll just steal these words and run with them fast. Instead of thinking too much about the hidden depths as an unworthy, bloody rookie in the more colorful, or in this case especially crimson and black, visual reading department.

Incredible superiority and suffering
The überhuman Dr Manhatten part is in strong contrast to the gritty, somewhat apocalyptic, setting on a bleak and dying earth. Interpreting the meaning and deeper sense of this plotline could mean great extra fun. Again, the ethical question of personal decisions kicks in, because he obviously could have fixed close to any problem with his superhuman powers, just as other characters could have been a bit less violent. Although that might have made the whole thing a bit boring.

Less bigotry with snobbery as an icing on the elitist cake, please.
The irony of the fact is that this is one of the only graphic novels that got honored by both Time magazine and the Science Fiction and Fantasy hall of fame.
It may incredibly still take even more time until comics and graphic novels are seen as as important and worthy as normal literature, something so ridiculously showing the snobbery and elitism of the established literary business that it really hurts. But the more incredible works like this one are produced, the more the conservative, intolerant hater trolls (how ironic, because they´re mostly offline in meatspace because social media is another evil, new, direct democratic pull media thing they can´t control with their push media manufacturing consent propaganda https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) have to change their unsubstantiated, bigoted opinions. As if the comics code https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics_...
(Heck, they even made their strange propaganda approval quality logo) with its fascistic, sexist, homophobic, racist, etc. quite a long list, censor tendencies wasn´t already ridiculous enough until it silently left the stage after having luckily been made meaningless. If anyone would have done this with „real books“ or newspapers, it would have been called cooptation, dictatorship, or mind control. No wait, the last one is of course just a leftist conspiracy theory, as if anyone would do that in democratic countries, your decisions and ideologies forming your personality are totally not manipulated!

That´s how it used to be, not how it´s fictionally described
We see no dystopic future or a cyberpunk nightmare, but the exaggerated description of the darkest sides of our current system. Go to a slum or even into a developing country and discover the worlds of murder, torture, and sexual violence, just without superpowers, and here comes the savior stuff of course. And to overstrain the morality question, it´s of course always very important who is good or evil, attacker or defender, freedom fighter or terrorist, prophet or devil, in each decent, short, and easy, optional religious, war.

Long time impact and the beginning of a legacy
Take The Boys, adult animation, extreme horror, all the magnificent gore and violence that goes deeper than just under the skin of the victim, but vivisects society with its flaws, grievances, and thereby inherent madness itself. All heirs of turning the Disneyesque unicorn rainbow pony farm thing upside down, letting it degenerate, or, depending on the personal standpoint, evolve to postmodern, big history deconstructions of what was never good and harmonious, but just painted that way. Which is even sicker than the worst war crime genocide human experimentation/ extermination/internment/ concentration/ add favorite downplaying euphemism, cucumber here, because it´s the bipolar, suppression fueled mindset of cultures that makes such atrocities possible. Not just great entertainment, but enlightenment and epiphany come with the watchmen too.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
Profile Image for Anne.
3,790 reviews69k followers
October 12, 2021
2020 Coronavirus Review

I 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 genius.
Now, after slogging through his masterpiece with more 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 thoughtful.
Everyone else heads back to the kitchen to get more 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 has gone to shit.

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But worse than the panels of art packed with wordy musings are the straight-up book pages.
Page 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?
Getthefuckoutofhere.
Moore is bordering on abusive with this sort of thing.
Some 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 nonsense.

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The 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 one.
And the conclusion is so unbelievably underwhelming. It had been so many years since I'd read it that I couldn't quite remember how it all went down, so there was still an element of surprise. And yet...
That was it?
Yes, I'm 100% sure this was absolutely groundbreaking when it first came out, but looking at it now more than 10 years after I first read it?
I don't think it has aged well. <--my personal opinion
And 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.

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Part of the problem for me was that the characters in this were all weirdly anemic and/or horrible.
Yes, people can be awful. But there's no one in this story who wasn't gross or pathetic. That's not any more realistic than a story that has only sunshine and unicorn farts.
People are not as bad as all this.

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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 books/bios/notes 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 them.
Ok, 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 cuppa.



Original Review 2009
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,099 reviews44.1k followers
August 5, 2016
Morality is a fickle bitch.

This is, simply put, iconic. When any one mentions comics/graphic novels the first thought that enters is an image of the Watchmen. I think there is a strong reason for it. It made me question 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 unique 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 questions 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.

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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 question his results? His methods are clearly debatable, though it was the only route open to him. There is simply no quantifiable right or wrong in this world; there is only neutrality and hypocrisy.

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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 more 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?

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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 question 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 questioning 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?

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
October 24, 2019
I reread this in anticipation of seeing the film in 2009.

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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 more.

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Billy Crudup as Doctor Manhattan - from the film

So 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?

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The Comedian

Is 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?

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Nite Owl - from the book and as portrayed by Patrick Wilson in the film

If 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 more 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.

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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 more 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 tale.


Review 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.
Profile Image for Nicole Prestin.
Author 8 books16 followers
July 23, 2008
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, boring.

To 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 things.

While 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.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews88 followers
February 12, 2022
It would be a stronger world, a stronger loving world, to die in.
~ John Cale

Extraordinarily powerful; Truly special; Visually engrossing

Indeed, qualifies to be one of the all time greatest novels!
12 amazing chapters of groundbreaking poetic and artistic verses!!

In a world filled with many mindless and senseless graphic novels and comics, Watchmen is an intelligent and thought-provoking creation, much much more than just entertainment.

A masterpiece, which does not really require a review.

"We are all puppets, Laurie. I`m just a puppet who can see the STRINGS."
~ Jon/Dr. Manhattan

Profile Image for Schmacko.
246 reviews63 followers
July 19, 2013
I can understand why this is considered a holy tome in the field of graphic novels. The plot is complex, it’s unique, 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 stuff.

I 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 STORIES!

I 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 novels.

This 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 ENGAGED!

A lot of these graphic novels and stuff seem to think that if they simply tickle your creative brain, they’ve succeeded. I want more – 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 boredom.

I 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 more 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 not.

Watchmen 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) question of why humans can be drawn to the edge of doom, and what they need to do to stop just at the edge.

Oh - 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.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 28 books128k followers
April 17, 2009
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 way:

The 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.
Profile Image for Fabian.
935 reviews1,527 followers
October 7, 2020
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 ridiculous).

"The 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.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews677 followers
February 14, 2020
So I've been super busy trying to figure out my life now that I've graduated and it's terrible and I've literally read nothing in weeks but I actually ended up taking a day to read this because someone lent it to me. My boyfriend was saying that it was ridiculous that I hadn't read this yet and insisted I finish and even though now I'm like behind on this online class that I've been taking it was totally worth it. Usually I write like some kind of synopsis but not sure how to go about that here. I would rather just say how I felt and babble about how good this ended up being so instead of like trying to summarize I'm just going to go through it which for anyone who tries to avoid spoilers means you should probably stop reading from here.

Anyway I really did like the artwork for this and I'm not an avid reader of graphic novels though so that might not really mean much as an opinion. What was really good was the writing though and the way things all came together through the story, like the research center featured near the news stand coming back to being important to the climax. The writing was really good and I just really loved the depressing gloomy tone of things. Especially that second comic in the comic with the pirates. Oh man when that dude goes home and thinks he's killing the pirates but it's his wife like damn, I saw it coming but it was still so heavy. Also the way everything in the comic book unfolded so that it was foreshadowing as well as highlighting the main plot line a well.

And aw man why is Rorschach's life so terrible, just seeing his childhood made me upset, and when he goes back to the apartment and is about to say something to the landlady and see's her kids oh jesus I was just like WHY. Him in general though, even though he's abrasive as a person he's such a great character, like in jail he tells the other prisoner, "i'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me" that made me freak out. I was pretty upset that Dr.Manhattan fried him there at the end. Speaking of which the whole ending makes me so angry, because like why does one person get to decide unilaterally what to do. I get that things were spiraling out of control but I still don't believe that the answer was to kill millions of people and pin it on aliens, and I sure as hell don't see why the whole world shouldn't know what happen. It doesn't mean that things would go back to devolving, if anything hatred can be just as uniting and I'm sure everyone's anger could have come in between the impending war.

I know at the end his journal is there and they might find it but I just find it highly unsatisfactory that it hinges on something so uncertain. I don't think anyone should have all the say on how things progress, no matter how intelligent. And also for someone who is supposed to be the most intelligent man on earth his morality is pretty childish as well as his idolization of people like Alexander the great. Also last comment, the whole handling of the rape situation between Sally Jupiter and Eddie was really interesting I thought. Relationships do tend to be much less clear cut and dry in real life and it was nice seeing that unfold in the story. It kind of made me think of how people can have a hard time understanding rape in a consensual relationship like a marriage but how context can really change things and how things aren't always as clear cut as being wrong and right necessarily for the person who is raped.

Anyway definitely one of the best things I've read regardless of how angry I am about how things end.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,847 reviews16.3k followers
August 14, 2019
Brilliant.

A clever joke, wound up inside a parody, and all surrounded and blanketed by a cool story.

Three cheers for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons for this deservedly popular and critically acclaimed, genre defining, wildly influential graphic novel. First published in 1987, this has come to be a benchmark of what kind of powerful fiction can be accomplished in this medium.

Describing an alternate history where Richard Nixon has been president for multiple terms, the United States won the Vietnam War, and superheroes guard the streets and watch over us against the bad guys.

But who watches the watchmen?

The original heroes are all retired or dead and the second generation are banned, but then one of the originals is murdered and we are drawn into a world turned upside down and where the feelings and motivations of our heroes are explored and dissected.

Like Gore Vidal, and obliquely like Kurt Vonnegut, Moore also explores our need for superheroes. Vidal talked about how Hollywood creates for us a new mythology, wherein our psychological needs for heroics are formalized and produced. Here, by creating a new group of heroes in an alternate universe, Moore describes for us, and defines for us in the periphery, how we need heroes as myth. The various characters and personages are drawn and captured and put together from an amalgam of classic detectives and heroes. Just as in any pantheon of ethnic deities, here does Moore enact for us, in none too subtle form, how we have gods amongst us and they are of our creating. Like the gods of Egypt and of the Norse, Greek, etc etc we as a modern culture have drawn for ourselves heroes to incorporate and define what we want. There are super strong heroes, geniuses, fighters, those who take the battle to the bad guys and win.

Moore and Gibbons not only tell a cool story on the surface but also mix in enough pop culture and historical / literary references to make this a Find Waldo of hidden meanings and allusions. I’ll need to revisit this again and again (and see the film) to truly appreciate their great work.

Highly recommended.

description
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,561 reviews5,817 followers
December 21, 2014


What's this? Unpopular opinion time?



Most of my friends and most of Goodreads love this book. I did not. I read for pleasure. I don't care if reading makes me smart. I don't care if reading makes me pretty. I just want that escape into other worlds.
If I went to this world-I would die from boredom.


I actually like the darker books so I thought this one would sweep me up into the fandom of it. But, alas, it just made me sleep quite well last night.
I didn't even know there was a movie made from it until someone mentioned it while I was reading it.


My hubby would probably like the movie so we may try that at some point. But I ain't in no hurry.

Oh, and for the trolls that I'm sure I will attract with this review.


Because everyone has their own opinion. Go write yours. (on your own frigging review)
Profile Image for Sanjay Gautam.
222 reviews434 followers
November 9, 2015
Alan Moore is the greatest graphic novelist of all time. He has created a world where superheroes are not typical superheroes like super-man, spider-man et al. Each superhero has a unique philosophical perspective. And he has created superheroes who were either in deep complex psychological crisis or are going through one, and they are not perfect who always save the day in the end.
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
January 6, 2020
wow, i thought i had written a proper review for this, but it seems that ten years ago i was as bad at writing reviews as i am now, on the other side of the peak, where i am washed-up and bedraggled and very far behind in my reviewing-stack. ):

ANYWAY, i just came on here to check my review, because i am finally getting around to watching the HBO series, and that show is making it REALLY DIFFICULT to maintain my longstanding rorschach-crush, sustained by both the book and the movie, but i am now developing a crush on regina king, so i guess 2020 has begun.

anyway, this review, and this decade-later comment, is of no use to me or anyone and someone please send a squid my way.

***********************************

okay i finally read it. and although i hate hate hate the art (which is why i didn't read it long ago until everyone kept telling me it was better than the art) the story is mostly very good. there are a couple of cringe-y things in there, mostly just dated material that cant be helped, but i am glad i read it, and you all can stop shouting at me now.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,671 followers
December 5, 2009
I've been in many discussions over the years -- some in classes I was teaching, some over pints in the bar, and still others late at night with people I love -- about what Alan Moore was trying to say with Watchmen, discussions about the meaning of his graphic novel, and I am convinced that the meaning is not what most people think.

Most people I have talked to look at Veidt's mini-Armageddon to bring peace as inherently evil -- and the most monstrous act in a book of monstrous acts. Veidt's act trumps The Comedian's attempted rape of Silk Spectre and the murder of his child in the womb; it trumps Rorschach's punishment of the child killer, his torture of "innocent" informants, and the brutality he delivers unto anyone he happens to see committing a "crime," petty or otherwise; it trumps Dr. Manhattan's personal engagement in the Vietnam War; Veidt's action even seems to trump the not-so-petty criminal activities we see perpetrated by peripheral "criminals" throughout Watchmen.

On the surface, we tend to condemn Veidt's action because of its scale. It's cold and precise and sterile and necessarily takes the lives of "millions of innocent people." We have been indoctrinated from the youngest ages to hate this kind of killing more than any other. Our great monsters are Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, but we somehow find it in our hearts and minds to forgive Truman's nuclear attacks on Japan because they "saved millions of lives," as a young Walter Kovacs (aka Rorschach) writes in an essay about his absent father, defending Nuclear War and the Truman doctrine, albeit at an early age. And if we can forgive Truman's attack (I recognize that some people cannot forgive that attack, but many, many can), why not forgive Veidt? If we can forgive one, we must forgive the other. Sure Veidt killed more people, but he saved more too, and created a utopia out of the chaos.

This discrepancy in our accepted opinions is not lost on Alan Moore; in fact, it is at the core of Watchmen. We see it being played out in dialogue and action by characters from The Comedian to Rorschach, from Ozymandias to Dr. Manhattan, and even in the supporting folk who populate Moore's distopian future.

When faced with this discrepancy and pressed to discover why Veidt's actions continue to rile us, it doesn't take long to uncover a deeper root for our disdain: our need for individuality and Veidt's destruction of the freedom to make our own mistakes.

This realization of our anger at Veidt and why his action is "evil" quickly becomes the accepted meaning of Moore's story: that derailing humanity's ability to choose is the greatest wrong anyone can commit (the secular see this as a fundamental attack on our freedom, while the religious see this as our fundamental gift from God, but they tend to add anger at Veidt for playing God), and that Veidt's utopia will fail because the power of the individual is too great -- it always overcomes.

I disagree.

I don't think Moore considers Veidt's act evil so much as misguided. I am not convinced that Moore believes in good and evil at all. Throughout Watchmen we are led to see one man as the man who "gets it," and that figure is not Rorschach. Rorschach is a guide, nothing more. Rorschach acts as an Horatio figure, guiding us through the narrative, telling us what to pay attention to, whom to believe, what to see: mostly he is trying to get us to see The Comedian. If the story is anyone's it is The Comedian's. The Comedian is the man who gets it, and what the amoral Comedian gets is that morality is a construct designed to help us avoid despairing at what Moore believes is the truth: humanity is violent and base; it is ignoble; it is doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat its violence because that is what humanity does best -- violence -- and everything else is playacting. Thus, Veidt's mini-Armageddon is futile, not because of our noble individuality, not because of the strength of our human spirit, but because of the strength of our animal instincts. All those lives were wasted to create a utopia that simply couldn't be.

And Rorschach's journal, slipped through the door of the paper and ready to be printed, is the detonation cap.

Watchmen may be the most hopeless popular book printed in the last fifty years, and the most truthful. I am continually shocked by its popularity (even if only as a cult phenomenon), but then maybe it is only popular through a quirk of misunderstanding. Then again, it could be popular because people understand it better than they're willing to admit.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Richard (on hiatus).
160 reviews177 followers
September 4, 2020
This acclaimed and groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore (story) and Dave Gibbons (artwork) opens with a body plummeting out of a skyscraper window.
The year is 1985, the place is New York and we enter a universe similar to our own but altered. Richard Nixon is still president, (serving his fifth term, Vietnam being a big success!), the threat of nuclear war with is Russia looming ominously and super heros walk the streets.
Many years earlier a group of colourful masked avengers became popular with the public as they fought back against the rising tide of crime that the police were failing to control.
A further group, the ‘Watchmen’ rose to notoriety in the 50’s and 60’s but were outlawed in 1977 (the Keene Act) as they were deemed out of control and had lost the faith of the general public.
This later group, now retired, is made up of The Comedian - a violent, right wing adventurer, Rorschach - a lonely, damaged vigilante, Doc Manhattan - a godlike superhero, whose body was reassembled following a nuclear accident, the Silk Spectre - aka Laurie Juspeczyk a principled and respected crime fighter, Ozymandias - a super intelligent and super rich hero and finally Nite Owl - a brilliant, costumed inventor.
The body splatted on the pavement was that of The Comedian.
Why was he murdered? Is someone targeting the Watchmen?
The disparate group of ageing heros investigate and begin to unearth a vast and incredible conspiracy.
Watchmen is a big book for this genre (413 pages) containing stories within stories, newspaper articles, sections of comic books, psychological studies, clips from biographies etc - the central narrative being told through Rorschach’s Journal.
I loved the scope and variety of this graphic novel - sometimes challenging, sometimes thought provoking, often funny and always imaginative. I read it very slowly over hundreds of coffee breaks, finding that although Watchmen had the depth of a novel, this was a good way to appreciate the artwork and themes - and a good way to read alongside standard novels.
This intelligent, comic book epic won’t be for everyone but I enjoyed it a lot.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,417 followers
July 15, 2018
One of the greatest standalone comics which led to one of the greatest screen adaptations of a superhero story, Watchmen is an extraordinarily fun ride. I love the 30s atmosphere and the compelling characters. The heroes are all over their prime (kind of like Batman and Superman in retirement in The Dark Knight Rises). The artwork is great and the story is orignal - one of the great comic classics!
Need to re-read this one regularly as Alan Moore really created a graphic novel of lasting genius.
Profile Image for Trish.
432 reviews25 followers
December 9, 2007
Aaron's been telling me for a long time that I should read a select few of his favorite comic books. And I haven't been avoiding them. But when I'm looking around the house for something to read, I forget to wander over to the comics section. So finally he just made a stack of books for me, and I started with Watchmen.

And within the first few pages I was testing his patience with questions/comments including:

"Why is Rorshach the hero when he's clearly insane?"
"None of these people are very pleasant."
"Why doesn't Laurie shut up?"
"Seriously. When does Laurie shut up?"
"Are any of these people not crazy?"
"The Comedian is a stupid super-hero name."
"I'm not good at looking at the pictures for information."
"I like the text parts between the chapters."

He told me that if I wasn't enjoying it I should just stop (and he was probably thinking, "If she doesn't like whining, then why doesn't she shut up?"). But I said it wasn't that I wasn't enjoying it--well, I wasn't enjoying it, but I was appreciating it.

And that's my final verdict, I guess. I didn't enjoy it, exactly, because I don't think you're supposed to *enjoy* a story in which at least three-fifths of the characters are certifiably insane or at least significantly imbalanced and in which New York City becomes a body-choked charnel house.

But I did *appreciate* the signficance of the book, I think. I think I understand, at least academically if not viscerally, the sea change this must have represented in the tone and depth of comic books/graphic novels, and what a huge influence and touchstone this book must be.

But in terms of pure individual reaction? Well, it was kind of like when I finally saw The French Connection. There's all this build up about The French Connection and what a great car chase it has and how influential it was and how it marked the birth of a new type of movie anti-hero who inhabited a realistic moral grey zone, blah, blah, blah. And then when you finally see it, you've seen so many subsequent films that were influenced by it that the original seems old hat. Having seen Ronin, I was not blown away by the car chase in The French Connection. So, my reaction to Watchmen was colored by the fact that I have only been exposed to comic books in a post-Watchmen world. I didn't read comics when I was young. Everything I know about comics I've learned from Aaron Matthew Polk, and he's a huge Watchmen fan, so I had already absorbed the Watchmen worldview without ever having read the book.

Of course, it's good to have read it so I have a better chance of participating in or at least following along with comic geek conversations. Now I, too, can speculate on casting should a Watchmen movie ever get the green light, and I, too, can bemoan the eventual script's lack of fidelity to the source material, and I, too, can complain when they screw up the CGI on Doc Manhattan.

There should be some sort of merit badge that the girlfriends of geeks can earn--just like in the Girl Scouts, when you get a badge for selling a certain number of cookies, or the stickers and certificates earned by people who give a lot of blood, or the chips they give recovering alcoholics for a certain period of sobriety. I have earned my one comic book badge. It's like being a puny-colored belt of some kind in karate.

The point is, I appreciated the book, sort of in the same way that I might appreciate a text I was assigned to read for a class. I mean, I get Great Expectations, but I'm not going to read it again. (Who is crazier: Miss Havisham or Rorshach? Discuss.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.6k followers
September 3, 2021
Watchmen (Watchmen #1-12), Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (Illustrator/Letterer), John Higgins (Colorist)

In October 1985, New York City detectives are investigating the murder of Edward Blake.

With the police having no leads, costumed vigilante Rorschach decides to probe further.

Rorschach deduces Blake to have been the true identity of The Comedian, a costumed hero employed by the U.S. government, after finding his costume and signature smiley-face pin badge.

Rorschach believes he has discovered a plot to terminate costumed adventurers and sets about warning four of his retired comrades: Daniel Dreiberg (an inventor and formerly the second Nite Owl), the superpowered and emotionally detached Jon Osterman (codenamed Doctor Manhattan) and his lover Laurie Juspeczyk (the second Silk Spectre), and Adrian Veidt (once the hero Ozymandias, and now a successful businessman).

Dreiberg, Veidt, and Manhattan attend Blake's funeral, where Dreiberg tosses Blake's pin badge in his coffin before he is buried.

Manhattan is later accused on national television of being the cause of cancer in friends and former colleagues. When the government takes the accusations seriously, Manhattan exiles himself to Mars.

As the U.S. depends on Manhattan as a strategic military asset, his departure throws humanity into political turmoil, with the Soviets invading Afghanistan to capitalize on the perceived American weakness.

Rorschach's concerns appear vindicated when Veidt narrowly survives an assassination attempt. Rorschach himself is framed for murdering a former supervillain named Moloch.

Though he attempted to flee from the authorities, Rorschach is ultimately captured and unmasked as Walter Kovacs. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش

عنوان: نگه��انان (کمیک)؛ نویسنده: آلن مور؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

نگهبانان یا واچ‌مِن مجموعه ی کمیک دوازده قسمتی است که توسط دی‌سی کامیکس، از ماه سپتامبر سال 1986میلادی تا ماه اکتبر سال 1987میلادی منتشر شد؛ در سال 1987میلادی همگی دوازده قسمت در یک کتاب دوباره چاپ شد و تا ماه سپتامبر سال 2008میلادی، به بیست و دو چاپ رسید؛ نویسنده «آلن مور»، طراح «دیو گیبنز» و رنگ‌آمیز «جان هیگینز» هستند؛

این کمیک درباره ی گروهی از قهرمانان، به نام «نگهبانان» است که از هم پاشیده‌ اند و قتل یکی از آن‌ها، سبب گرد هم آمدن دوباره ی آن‌ها می‌شود؛ همچنین ماجرای دیگری نیز به گونه ی «کمیک در کمیک»، پیگیری می‌گردد که داستان ناخدایی است که کشتی‌اش غرق شده‌ و او کوشش میکند زنده بماند و به محل زندگی و پیش خانواده‌اش برگردد؛

کمیک در آمریکای سده ی بیستم میلادی رخ می‌دهد؛ در سال 1977میلادی پس از اعتراضات گستردهه ی مردم، سناتور «کین» قانونی در مجلس می‌گذراند، که به موجب آن فعالیت «قهرمان‌های نقابدار گروه نگهبانان» قدغن می‌گردد؛ پس از آن، عده‌ ای از نگهبانان بازنشسته و عده‌ای برای دولت کار می‌کنند، و تنها یکی از آنان به نام «رورشاخ» غیرقانونی به فعالیت ادامه می‌دهد؛

در ماه اکتبر سال 1985میلادی، آنگاه که «آمریکا» و «شوروی» در دوران جنگ سرد به سر می‌بردند، «ادوارد بلیک» کشته می‌شود، و «رورشاخ» درمییابد ،که او یکی از نگهبانان به نام «کمدین» بوده، که برای دولت کار می‌کرده؛ «رورشاخ» که باور دارد کشتن «کمدین» حرکتی برای نابود کردن قهرمانان است، به سایر نگهبانان: «نایت آول دوم»، «آزیمندیس»، «دکتر منهتن» و «سیلک اسپکتر دوم» هشدار می‌دهد؛ اما کسی او را جدی نمی‌گیرد و ....؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,863 reviews10.5k followers
December 18, 2018
With the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the Comedian is found dead and the super heroes that knew him go looking for the killer. They might not like what secrets they unearth...

I first read this when I was around 20 and was blown away. Now, untold decades later, I decided to finally give it a reread. It held up.

On the surface, Watchmen is a murder mystery and it works fine on that level. Rorschach, the view point character, enlists Nite Owl, his old partner, and they shake the tree and see what falls out, which happens to be something much more than a murder. Beneath the surface, it's an examination of super heroes: what makes them put on costumes and fight crime, why would they waste their time on petty crimes when they could do something greater, and would a godlike being really care about humanity's day to day affairs. On that level, I think it goes above and beyond.

Dave Gibbons' art is somewhat understated and the subdued color palette makes it more so but I think both lend to the story's mood. The super heroes in this world have gone to seed and the sun rarely shines anymore. Everyone is pretty much running out the clock until nuclear armageddon. All that being said, the man knows his way around a nine panel grid. His use of perspective is excellent and he knows what to focus on. The pacing in Watchmen is masterful. Twelve issues was the perfect length for the tale, no padding, no rushing.

The characters departed quite a bit from their Charlton roots. It was a blessing in disguise that Alan Moore couldn't use the Charlton characters and had to go with analogues. He was able to take them much farther. The story was believable and the dark tone served the story. It wasn't dark just to be dark like a lot of books that came later. Even though this wasn't my first trip through the meat grinder, I felt the suspense building as I went. The last three installments flew by and part of me hoped it would end differently this time. Once in a while, it's good to be reminded that before Alan Moore hated everything about comics, he was actually pretty good at writing them.

Now I'm not going to pretend I didn't have any problems with this. I actually think the threat in the end of the movie made more logical sense that how it went down here. I'm also not sure how necessary some of the metafictional extras were, though I did like the Black Freighter sequences more this time around.

Gene Wolfe once said “My definition of good literature is that which can be read by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure.” That definitely applies to Watchmen. While it gets a lot of grief for the dark turn comics took in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Watchmen stands the test of time and remains one of the best. Five out of five stars.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,754 reviews636 followers
December 23, 2021
Read before you see the move...or after you have seen the movie. Truly one of the most innovative interpretations of SH comics ever written. Kind of makes you wonder: why must great power and great responsibility go hand in hand - if we look over the course of history it has been the opposite: great power often bears very little responsibility - so why should the most powerful beings in existence feel they owe us their protection?
Profile Image for Tom Ewing.
Author 1 book55 followers
May 17, 2017
Modern comics events seem to demand endless lead-ins and spin-offs, and sadly Doomsday Clock, from the blockbuster team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, is no exception to this trend. Watchmen, the extended prequel to Doomsday Clock, feels wholly unneccessary to 2017's much-anticipated DC Rebirth (TM) event. For a start, it's not even by Geoff Johns - how big a clue do you need that DC see 'Watchmen' as simply a cash-in? The storyline has been farmed out to a British writer-artist team who are given the task of introducing us to the universe which will "collide" with the DCU in this winter's mega-event.

It's an important job and one which might have been suited to a special issue or even an annual-length story, but no - DC had to drag things out to 12 long issues - for comparison purposes, the Death Of Hawkman (in which Hawkman dies) was only alotted 6 issues. Watchmen includes several issues focusing on characters who don't even survive to take part in Doomsday Clock! And don't get me started on the sequences set on yet ANOTHER part of the DC multiverse, where pirates still rule the waves - yes, it's a cool concept for an alternate Earth, but an editor should definitely have stepped in and asked for a bit of clarity.

In general the editorial reins are rather lightly held on Watchmen - for all the criticism Mr DiDio has received for interference, it's a certainty he wouldn't have made the basic mistakes here. While Dr Manhattan is clearly Superman and Nite Owl is Batman, it's very unclear who each of the various Justice Society analogues (the 'Minutemen') are meant to be. If this DCU veteran couldn't follow it, what hope does a new reader have? Also at no point is the membership of the Watchmen clearly delineated, and the team never really come together to solve the threat - an attempt at a clever bait and switch which goes sadly wrong in the hands of this inexperienced creative team.

The threat itself is handled marginally better, though aside from a couple of cool spreads the stiff artwork can hardly stand comparison to previous DC events like Blackest Night and Forever Evil which set the highest standards for realism in superhero action. A little more variation in page layout wouldn't have hurt!

The story is along the lines of Identity Crisis (a comic those curious about Watchmen should investigate for a REAL universe-shaking interrogation of the superhero form - it's strictly for adults, though). A hero lies dead and his fellow crime-fighters have to investigate - but might one of their own be responsible? Quicken the pace and introduce some more action and you might have a tense storyline here, but instead the writer is too busy showing off all the backstory he's worked out for this universe, and there's a LOT of backstory. I only hope some of this stuff pays off in Doomsday Clock because otherwise it's yet another rookie error by creator and editor - SHOW DON'T TELL GUYS. If I wanted pages of prose I would read a novelisation. All this background simply obscures the story beats: the creators could learn a lot from modern storytelling in my opinion. Apparently the writer has already vowed never to work with DC again, and frankly it feels like they've dodged a bullet. I can't imagine they were queueing up to work with him after this.

So overall Watchmen is a dud, with no recognisable DCU heroes appearing, and fans of Doomsday Clock should probably save their money for some of the awesome variant covers I expect to be announced. Only a couple of things save Watchmen from being a complete turkey - HERE BE SPOILERS I guess! The squid monster at the end is very cool, though once again a pretentious storytelling decision to cut to AFTER the fight against it lets the comic down. And there is one character who stands out from the rest - a badass hero called Rorschach who is absolutely driven to hunt down evil with zero, and I mean zero, compromise. He gets some extremely cool scenes and if he shows up in Doomsday Clock - which looks unlikely but keep your fingers crossed - expect Johns and Frank to crush it. In the right hands this guy could be a serious breakout star.

But on the whole this is a rip-off and yet another slap in the face to fans. It's so different in style and substance from what we expect from an epic DCU story in 2017 that it's almost impossible to see how it's going to connect to Doomsday Clock. In Johns We Trust - but this is his toughest job yet.
Profile Image for Henk.
797 reviews
April 2, 2022
Brilliant storytelling, casually touching on morality, the purpose of life, good and evil and much more. The medium is used to its max and the conclusion is like a punch in the gut
Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and god was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever, and we are alone

Very dark and very good. Loved revisiting this masterpiece which I read as a teenager.
The power of Watchmen is partly in the characters. Far from a straight forward superhero book, we are confronted with disillusioned people, often in denial, with mental problems or near nazi like far right sympathies. The first murder in the book is hardly to be mourned, but starts of a journey into the past (Every day the future looks a little bit darker. But the past, even the grimy parts of it… well, it keeps on getting brighter all the time. - Sally Jupiter) and the complex world building of this alternative reality, set in a 1980's where America won the Vietnam war and where Nixon is planning a third term.

Beneath me, this awful city, it screams like an abattoir full of retarded children. New York. - Rorschach bites himself into solving the murder on the Comedian, and starts to uncover more and more disturbing things.

One of the other great characters in the book is Doctor Manhattan. The product of a freak incident, a true superhuman who feels like a fully fledged version of Paul from Dune and whose struggle with the meaning of being human is fascinating:
A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally there is no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?

Already in the first volume of the book Alan Moore puts in the following quote: Which world would you rather live in, given the choice? and this question is at the heart of the book.

Rorschach also develops, his backstory is one of the most chilling, horrifying tales I've ever come across, and when he says: None of you understand. I’m not locked up here with you. You’re locked up in here with me you feel viscerally for his psychiatrist.

The brilliance of the book is also in its intertextuality, with extracts of biographies, other comics, newspapers, notes and other in universe media adding to an immersion into the story.

We’re all puppets, Lauri. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings - Doctor Manhattan says, but even he can't really see the bigger picture till after the 10th volume of the book. Doctor Manhattan is definitely a character who grew on me, the Mars scene is really brilliant, with a gradual reappreciation of the world: We gaze continually at the world and grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away. and
I’m sorry. It’s the world… I can’t run from it.

Even his lover takes on new depths and humanity: I want you to love me because we’re not dead.
The end of the book is unimaginable from the personal tragedy at the start of it all, but also encapsulated in it in a brilliant way: At death’s approach, all creatures discover an aptitude for violence.

From the perspective of our times, with COVID-19 and war in Europe in the span of a few years I think the expected uniting effects of hardships are maybe seen in a too positive (if that could be a moniker for this book) light. Still I really enjoyed the boldness, grimness and intellectual subversion of a genre known for its unambiguity. It is only comparable to The Dark Knight movie I would say:
Noble intentions had led me to atrocity.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,426 reviews12.7k followers
July 31, 2011
So it's now apparently sacrilege to criticize Moore and Gibbons' feted book but I don't care, iconoclasm is underrated.

My main problems with it are simply subjective. Moore can't write well, in my opinion, and nowhere is his dull and poor prose more apparent than in this book. I fell asleep reading this and cannot understand what people see in this. None of them besides the blue guy have superpowers so it's basically a group of guys who like a punch up and dress up in rubbish outfits. One bloke even has butterfly wings!! I realise that's the point, to show these "superheroes" up as socio/psychopaths and hiding from their own lives, but you could do it in a more interesting way and still explain why the government chose to send these heroes out to Vietnam.

Rorsharch isn't grim, he's a sad bastard trying too hard to, well, look hard. He's not hard, he's a c***. Comedian is a psychopath but so what? He's a one dimensional prick who deserved what he got on page 1. There's someone killing "superheroes". Good. They're either idiots, hopeless has beens, or sadistic gimps who ought to have been put down years ago, never mind write a book about them.

What else? The blue guy gets dumped so goes off to mope on Mars. Really. There are also cut scenes, "Under the Hood" the dullest autobiography of an ex-superhero ever penned thanks to Moore's substandard prose, and "The Black Freighter" a sub par haunted pirate comic book. The main character of that story floats about until going mad then lands and kills his wife. That story is stretched out over the entire length of the book.
So you have a murder plot that I didn't care about, characters you wouldn't think about twice, two sub plots that never should have been, and a culmination which, despite my criticisms of the book, I quite liked in its randomness. Though it does seem like Moore went off his meds and thought "ah who cares anymore, this'll do".

Gibbon's artwork is what makes this book. His work throughout is of a high standard while his period designs of "The Black Freighter" sequences are brilliant.

There are loads more I could say about this. Dated, dismal, unimaginative really. I cannot see what others see and to be honest the people I've met who have read this didn't see it either. I guess most of them just couldn't be bothered to write a 1 star review just like they couldn't, like me, finish the book. I tried twice too and I love comics. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson have done a brilliant series on the themes in this book, called "The Boys". Check that out instead of this absolute junk. Avoid this load of toss and anyone who tells you different.
Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews573 followers
December 4, 2020
Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No.”
I first read Watchmen about 15 years ago, when it was the only graphic novel named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. I wanted to re-read it before I watched the new TV show based on it.

Watchmen is set in an alternative, darker 1985. Largely on the strength of a near-god superhero named Dr. Manhattan, the US won the Vietnam War, and President Nixon is still in office. The murder of a former superhero named The Comedian brings back together the remaining former members of the Crimebusters: Rorschach, an uncompromising vigilante; Daniel Dreiberg, a Batman-like inventor known as the second Nite Owl; Dr. Manhattan; Laurie Juspeczyk, who was Silk Spectre II and is Dr. Manhattan’s lover; and Adrian Veidt, who was known as Ozymandias, the world’s smartest man, before he went into the business world and cashed in on being a superhero. The investigation ultimately uncovers a sinister plot to remake the world.

So what makes Watchman great? The artwork is richly detailed, far above most comic books. Each chapter (except the last) ends with what feels like bonus material—excerpts from one superhero’s tell-all memoir, arrest records, newspapers, etc.—that fills out and adds layers to the story. Finally, there’s a comic book within the graphic novel called Tales of the Black Freighter, in which a young man who is shipwrecked tries to get back home to try to save his family and town from the arrival of the Black Freighter. His descent into madness and loss of humanity mirrors various arcs of the main story and a main theme of the book that “Noble intentions had led me to atrocity.” Most of all though, it’s the flawed characters—each of whom have both redeeming and undesirable traits—that make Watchman so interesting and influential, ushering in the era of morally ambiguous superheroes. A must read.

P.S. The Watchman series on HBO is brilliant. You have to read the book first, as the show takes place years later. But the directions it goes in based upon the source material is incredible.
Profile Image for Brett C.
769 reviews156 followers
May 16, 2021
This was much more than a graphic novel. In my opinion this was very multilayered, deep, and psychological. It started out a mystery and soon developed into much more. The plot starts in 1985 America where superheroes have become unwelcome. This plot centered around a close knit group having gone their own ways over time. One of them is killed and the main characters all come back into each other's lives.

These characters were uniquely created by Alan Moore and drove the story. For instance Rorschach had a face mask that changed as his temper did. Dr. Manhattan was a deep and nihilistic with his thoughts and insights. There was a lot going on and that's what made this such a strong story. I could explain much more but I don't want to ruin it.

The end (when Ozymandias revealed his plan) was strange to me honestly. I thought the story had great build-up but I was let down at this point. But still I liked the style, the characters, and the plot of the book. Anybody who likes Alan Moore and his writing should definitely read this. Thanks!
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