Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why You Should Read "Watchmen"

Who watches the watchmen?

"Watchmen" is one of the most critically acclaimed graphic novels and one of Alan Moore's best known work. I have read "Watchmen" several times and can attest to it's fame. Everything good you may have already heard about "Watchmen" is true, making it a must read for every comic book fan. 

The story is a murder mystery that takes place in a world that mirrors our own with only one difference: masked and costumed heroes began fighting crime during the Great Depression and the superhero was born in the 1960's. With this difference, the Vietnam War was won, the superhero genre was eclipsed by stories about pirates, Richard Nixon is serving a fourth term in office, electric cars replaced those powered by fossil fuels, and Russia is in fear of America's "superman", Dr. Manhattan.

As you read through the story, you will find more changes in our history and understand this world that once seemed so familiar to our own, and you will even realize that despite all the changes, it is a world that is scarily like our own. A world teetering on the brink of Armageddon. 

The story opens with the murder of a masked hero known as the Comedian, a violent government agent with a dry sense of humor. The vigilante known as Rorschach, a sociopath with an unwavering devotion to justice, believes that the murder of the Comedian is the work of a killer targeting active and retired superheroes.

Rorschach is on a mission to capture the hero killer, but has to warn and convince his old "friends" about his theory. Rorschach reaches out to the retired and out of shape Nite Owl, his old partner; the god-like Dr. Manhattan and his girlfriend, the Silk Spectre; and the millionaire genius, Ozymandias. However, all of them just assume that Rorschach is paranoid and all of them are unconvinced.

As the story progresses, we learn more about these characters, and though we're new to these characters, we recognize their traits from our favorite comic book superheroes. Rorschach's brutal justice reminds us of Batman, Nite Owl's timidity recalls Clark Kent, and so on and so forth.

Moving on to the art, Dave Gibbons made every page and every panel a work of art. The art is clean and the designs of the characters and the world hearken back to the strange and unique style of Steve Ditko. Gibbons did a great job of filling every panel with so much information without them feeling cluttered or any clue being too obvious.

I would recommend "Watchmen" to any new comic book fan who want a serious story with a serious mystery. If there is anyone who likes there comic books with some political commentary, this is the one for you. If you just like stories that explore and subvert the superhero genre, you need to read "Watchmen".

ISSUES:  Watchmen #1-12 (1986-1987)
-Interesting and complex characters.
-An actual mystery.
-Political and social commentary.
-Easy to miss some important clues.
-Requires multiple readings to appreciate.

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