80. Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore
Illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Pages: 416
Ages: 18+
Finished: Apr. 20, 2009
First Published: 1986/1987 (previously published as individual comic books)
Genre: graphic novel, super heroes
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: I've been wanting to read this for quite some time. Longer than I even knew they were thinking about making a movie. I've often seen it on the library shelf but decided against picking up this very thick graphic novel. Of course, it took the recent movie to make me actually get up and read it but by then everybody else wanted to read it and I had to add my name to the very long waiting list at the library. Finally it was my turn.

First sentence:

Rorschach's journal, October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach.

Comments: Only a very broad summary can tell the premise of this plot without giving anything anyway and that hardly does the story any justice. A group of costumed heroes worked at thwarting crime during the forties, early fifties but they eventually went out of fashion in the fifties. But another younger, more resourceful group took over in the sixties only to have an act passed in '77 banning vigilantes altogether, except for a select few who worked for the government. This all takes place on an alternate earth where costumed vigilantes are real, Nixon is still President in the '80s (he removed the 2-term rule) and America won the Vietnam War. Now the world finds itself on the brink of World War III as US and Soviet Nuclear weapons are pointed at each other as the USSR starts to attack Asia starting with Afghanistan then Pakistan.

In this setting we have a more personal story of former superheroes, some retired, some still working underground and suddenly, former masked heroes are turning up dead or worse. One currently working costumed vigilante has an idea that someone is picking off former masked heroes and he tries to warn the others but no one really takes him seriously in this political clime of uncertainty.

This is an amazing book! The story is so intricate. Not only are the two main themes going on as described above but each of the superheroes involved carries their own personal subplot as well throughout the series. Amazingly everything ties together and I'm always stunned when a graphic novel can show such depth and intricacies with such limited text. Of all the great books I've read this month this is my favourite so far. Certainly a product of it's time; the eighties fear of nuclear attack from the Soviets, the Cold War, the threat of a third world war and yet somehow things never change. While the "bad guys" are different today, we still have these threats of nuclear arms making headlines today.

I'm really excited to see the movie now. I've purposely avoided any notice of it as I wanted to read the book without any preconceptions. I don't even know who is in the movie and that is why while reading the book I visualized one of the characters as a certain actor. Jon is a science experiment gone wrong and is a big blue muscular naked guy with a circle on his forehead. His voice is distinctly different from the others, unemotional, and I immediately thought of him as a Jaffa, T'ilk to be exact, and I just heard Christopher Judge's deep voice saying that character's voice throughout the novel! It's weird when that happens.

Back to the book, totally engrossing and riveting. I wish I hadn't waited this long. I said this was my favourite book of the month but this is also probably one of the finest graphic novels I've ever read. It is tough, hard and bloody and most definitely one for adults though, so don't go thinking of this is a "comic" and handing it off to the kiddies. Highly recommended!


  1. Even after reading (skimming) so many reviews of this graphic novel, I'm still not convinced that I would like it. It's going to have to be one of those books that either falls in my lap or a total impulsive move on my part. I'm so glad to read that you loved it, though.

  2. It really is good, Joy, but knowing your tastes re: superheroes and fantasy it's probably not the book for you. Even the best books out there don't suit everyone!

  3. I am glad you enjoyed Watchmen, Nicola. I was surprised too at how intricate and indept the story went. It's not your typical superhero graphic novel. Great review!

  4. I own this, so I really must get around to reading it one of these days! Glad you liked it!

  5. I had a so-so reaction to the book when I finished it (I thought it was too campy 80s), but I have to admit that it's stuck with me over the year since I read it. The more I learn about comic books (thanks to my hubby, and the movies that keep coming out), the more I learn what the Watchmen were trying to do.

    I'll probably see the movie (said Hubby will rent it eventually), but I'm not sure it'll make a good one. It's much too complex for the big screen.

  6. The movie didn't do it for me (too icky), but I loved the book. You're right that it is so intricate and full and rich and...!!! :) Glad you liked it, too.

  7. Wendy - Agree, not your typical superhero story!

    Kailana - I think you'll love it!

    Melissa - you're right it is very eighties. I also wonder how the movie will fare. There's no way they can get all the intricacies onto the screen.

    Trish - icky? Do you mean blood and gore? I can def. see that as being a problem. I'm still going to have to see it though.

  8. Yes, very violent and some gratuitous s*x. There were a few parts where I had to close my eyes. I'm kind of a wimp, though...

  9. Not sure if I'm going to read this one or not. I did like the movie okay though.

  10. Thanks for letting me off the hook, Nicola! :)

  11. This is one of those books I have been meaning to read for years and still haven't gotten around to. I know I will be like you when I do get around to it and wish I had read it much sooner. Hopefully I will read it this year and enjoy it just as much as you :)


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