Monday, January 3, 2011


1985, New York City. World peace is at stake, and a group of retired superheroes is allegedly being assassinated. Watchmen is written by Alan Moore, illustrated and lettered by Dave Gibbons, and colored by John Higgins.

The Comedian, one of the older costumed heroes around, is murdered. He is thrown out of a window from high up. Rorschach, a vigilante with a black and white shifting mask, trenchcoat, and hat, is investigating. He theorizes there is a "mask-killer" going around and killing superheroes.

Besides Rorschach, the other heroes are as follows:
  • Dan Dreiberg, the Nite Owl. He has the vehicle, he has the charisma. He is also one of the new vigilantes, and was inspired by the original Nite Owl, with whom he remains friends.
  • Dr. Manhattan aka Jon Osterman, the blue man who got his powers in a scientific accident. One of the only ones with inherent powers. He is able to duplicate himself, teleport matter into thin air, and walk through walls.
  • Laurie Juspeczyk's mother was a superhero of the first generation and that's how she got her start. She separates her relationship from Dr. Manhattan to be with Dan Dreiberg. As the Silk Spectre, she is a compassionate vigilante and a competent fighter.
  • Adrian Veidt, who takes the name Ozymandias. A self-made millionaire with an Anarctic retreat and a pet feline mutant. He is considered the smartest man in the world. 
Left to right: Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan (back),
The Comedian (front), Nite Owl, Rorschach

There is a rich history within Watchmen. It is interspersed with written segments between chapters. These embellish the story with tidbits from the past, journals and writings of various kinds. Some are more interesting and relevant than others. There is a comic-within-a-comic that is being read by a man sitting on a New York sidewalk by a newsstand. It's interesting but slightly diverting. The vendor of the newsstand offers commentary on the current events that are going on. This thread, along with the flashbacks and written pieces, seems to take up at least half of the graphic novel. The history is so rich, it is still continuing to be unveiled even up to the penultimate chapter.

I saw the movie based on the graphic novel before I read the book. The movie is great. It was really well done in my opinion, and it helped me familiarize with the characters, but although I enjoyed the graphic novel, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had not already seen the film, because I already knew the ending.

Watchmen is at times brilliant, long-winded, wry, and insightful. A fair amount of time is spent on character development. This is good because, in my opinion, it is the most interesting part of the novel. Visually, it is quite good. Watchmen is considered a classic and influential comic.

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