Friday, November 27, 2009

Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Watchmen is a graphic novel originally published as twelve comic books in 1986 and 1987. It is also the source material for the 2009 movie of the same name.

This is a dark and disturbing story set in the recent past of a world very similar to our own. Costumed crime fighters - superheroes of one sort or another - exist and were mostly forced out of the business by law some time before the story opens. Those who work for the government or ignore the law continue what they were doing while the others retired and aged. As we join the story someone starts killing them off, and the plot grows from there.

Every character in here has a difficult back story of one sort or another, and their psychological challenges are on stage just as much as the plot itself. That's somewhat to be expected. After all, just how likely is a normal person to put on a costume and personally fight crime? No, it takes someone special - or disturbed - to do that.

I found the story engaging, but the methods used by the villain - particularly at the very end - seemed a bit over the top, even for this world. The characters were pretty good, but some suffered from a lack of believability. I bought into Rorshach, and the Comedian, found both Dr. Manhattan and Veidt too far fetched, and Nite Owl didn't resonate. I won't call out the whole list but you ge the idea.

Overall I thought it was a good read, but not outstanding. My copy says it won a Hugo award and is on Time Magazine's list of the 100 best novels. I don't think I can agree with the latter, but it's good in any case.

Recommended with some minor reservations.