Review of 'Watchmen'

Watchmen by Dave Gibbons, and Alan Moore

A classic of modern graphic novels, the Watchmen certainly deserves the praises heaped upon it (including appearing in the list of the top 100 best novels in Time Magazine). A modern take on the superhero story we see in Watchmen what might happen in a society where masked vigilantes take the law into their own hands and what happens to those “heroes” from a personal perspective.

The story begins with the assassination of one of these “Watchmen” with our narrative guide throughout – Rorschach (a face-shifting, trench-coat wearing, super-hero) – attempting to solve the mystery. As the deaths mount and the increasingly dire state of the nuclear threat under (a fictional) Nixon things get from bad to worse very quickly. The authors are not afraid to delve into all aspects of human nature: Sexuality, selfishness, deceit…Subjects that other “graphic novels” (or comics) would think twice about tackling.

The detail of the story including simple yet at the same time somehow intricate artwork by Moore (as always) grabs the reader from page one. The world is drawn in such exquisite and believable detail you cannot help it. The extracts from various (fictional) works between chapters further fleshes out the reality of the story (if that was required).

I did find the multiple layers of the story a bit confusing and did find myself occasionally back-tracking to re-read sections that I had not entirely followed the first time around. No, this is not a simple read either. Having said that, I am now reading it a second time to better enjoy the detail it affords both in artwork and story…

I would have to agree with the critics: This is a very good read indeed.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2009-02-26

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Titan Books

Publication Date: 1986