Watchmen, a graphic novel review

A graphic novel review written by: Lee Sonogan

(1986) Drama, mystery, action

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“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”
― Alan Moore, Watchmen

Always mentioned, this graphic novel is said to be one of the best graphic novels of all time. The graphic novel is about an alternative history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s. In 1985 the country is heading towards World War 3 with Russia and superheros are outlawed. A murder of a government owned superhero pulls out the former superheros from retirement. The story focuses on personal development of the characters and moral struggles. It was originally released as issues in comics in the year of 1986.

A worldwide success, Watchmen has received respect from both comics and mainstream press and is considered by several critics and reviewers to be one of the most impressive works of 20th-century in literature. Watchmen was shown in Times List of the 100 Best Novels as one of the best English language novels published since 1923. The BBC described it as “The moment comic books grew up.”. It has also been called the “Citizen Kane.” of comics.

After a number of attempts to adapt the graphic novel into a feature film, director Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was released in 2009. Watchmen had been shopped as a potential film property as far back as 1986, when producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver bought the film rights. The writer, Alan Moore was originally supposed to write a series about the characters DC comics purchased from Charlton Comics. Not scraping the plot, Moore made up his own characters based on the purchased characters DC comics brought. And watchmen was born.

Gritty and grim, itself and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns influenced the style we see today in various content. The story is very realistic to if we had great superheros emerge. All the characters are shown strong in the story. Each character has many memorable scenes in the overall story. Dr Manhattan (The only real super powered human in the story) is my favourite character, while many other characters had consistent interesting dialog. The ending is very different in the movie and was controversial. I recommend this graphic novel to all fans who read graphic novels/comic books or just like the superhero genre.


PS – Alan Moore has written many more interesting stories worth checking out. Only if you like his style of story creation.

“A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?”                                                                                                                                          ― Alan Moore, Watchmen

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