Heather's Reviews > Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
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's review
Mar 25, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, fantasy, superheroes
Recommended for: people who don't read for sheer entertainment value.

What can I say about Watchmen that hasn't already been said? As with anything that's so enormously popular, most people either like it or hate it. I liked it. It probes some deep issues, and it made me think.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Watchmen is the 1986 comic book (or "graphic novel" as they are called these days) that turned the industry on its head. It features superheroes who are very human, often not so super. They exist in an alternate 1985 in which America won the Vietnam War--due to their participation--and Nixon was subsequently reelected multiple times.

Some people are turned off by what they see as the writer's endorsement of an extreme leftist political ideology, but I believe the writer has also said that one of the goals of the story was to set up a group of characters with highly different worldviews and let the reader choose which they agreed with. In that sense, the story is a huge success. It shows us multiple interpretations of a desperate, cruel, gray world and forces us to choose our own.

What I got out of the tale with its morally questionable "heroes" and the catastrophic outcomes of their decisions was this: we all want heroes. We all want to be saved. Especially in times like these of economic misery and war, we want to hear happy stories of perfect beings like Superman who believe in the good of all mankind and stand by their principles. Watchmen is not such a story. It is a story of what would happen if normal people (yes, "normal"--most of us are at least half this messed up, we just don't want to look at it) were given extraordinary powers (in the case of Dr. Manhattan) and extraordinary responsibility. It's a story of people who question everything about the meaning of life and the nature of existence, coming to some rather amazing and beautiful conclusions--and then still make mistakes.

These flawed vigilantes draw lines in different places, proving that human beings are not the best judges of good and evil, that even giving a human God-like powers does not make him God, and ultimately, that truth has a chance at prevailing somehow even if its suppression is attempted in the name of false justice.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Havens wonderful review! Well thought out and articulate. There's not only talent showing in Watchmen as a work, but you as a reviewer!

Heather Michael wrote: "wonderful review! Well thought out and articulate. There's not only talent showing in Watchmen as a work, but you as a reviewer!"

Yay! Thanks, Michael!

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Havens Heather, a good writer and a good friend!

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