This was not a review I mentioned in advance, for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't want people going, "You haven't read Watchmen? And you call yourself a reviewer of books?" Two, I want to make it perfectly clear that this was not done due to the movie coming out earlier this year. I haven't seen it and probably never will. The all-too-simple reason is this: Watchmen is a classic, and because of the visual medium it uses, I've already sort of seen what a movie would look like. The characters and events are right there for me to see them.
First of all, it was interesting to see Watchmen put forward as one of Time magazine's 100 Best Books... until I read it. It's obvious the work deserves the title of "graphic novel". The story is complex, the characters fleshed out and intriguing, and it presents the reader with some clear moral dilemmas. Alan Moore's writing is top-notch. Big, big points for that.
For those of you who don't know, Watchmen tells the story of an alternate 1980s, one where superheroes have been roaming the streets and have since been outlawed by the Keene Act. Russia is on the rise, and World War Three is imminent. But on a smaller scale, things are going wrong. Someone is killing off former superheroes, and the book opens at the scene of the Comedian's death. Rorschach begins to investigate, searching for the truth by whatever means necessary. Nite Owl, now retired, is dragged into the mix, along with other cast members that are truly stand-outs, for example, the enigmatic Dr. Manhattan. I'm not even going to skim the surface here, but suffice it to say they find something bigger than they'd ever imagined.
One of the reviews on the back calls Watchmen "peerless". And I'd have to say I'd agree. Moore, who also wrote The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (horrible movie) and V for Vendetta (fantastic movie, rent it today), is at his best. Dave Gibbons brings Moore's words and ideas to life with great success and attention to detail. The flashbacks were effective. The emotions ran high. And the ending was masterful, although, according to Dr. Manhattan, "Nothing ever ends". This is the book that revolutionized the medium of comic books, doing for superhero stories what The Dark Knight did for superhero movies. I'm so glad I read it, and it will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.
My rating: 10/10. Wow. I mean, wow.
Coming Soon: Founding Brothers and The Way of Shadows.