Finished Reading Watchmen

After seeing the trailer for the upcoming Watchmen movie, which played before The Day the Earth Stood Still, I decided it would be a good idea to read the graphic novel before the movie is released in March. Its always fun to be one of those twits who needs to let you know that they read the book and it was SO MUCH BETTER than the movie. In reality, I just wanted to see what all the geek love heaped upon it by the nerd population was about.

For my neighbors under the rock where I was living, Watchmen was a 12 issue limited DC Comics series originally published in 1986 written by Alan Moore, whose other works include V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While it involves costumed heroes, it's a more gritty portrayal of these characters, their motivations and the world in which they operate. The series narrative follows many paths, but the main thread tying them all together is the mystery surrounding the murder of The Comedian, a retired masked man thrown out the window of his apartment in the opening pages. Some of his former colleagues see a conspiracy targeting former heroes, those with a low opinion of The Comedian & his morally ambiguous history see it as a man reaping what he had sowed. This all takes place in an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President, America was victorious in Vietnam due to the assistance of superheroes, electric cars fill the streets and zeppelins fill the skies. Moore does a good job of building a deep backstory, explaining the origin of these vigilantes, the generation of costumed characters that came before them, how they affected history and how they came to fall out of favor with the public & ultimately outlawed by Congress.

Original Watchmen
One thing unchanged in the Watchmen's 1985 is the threat of nuclear war between the super powers which escalates as the story unfolds. As with many pieces of fiction created during the Cold War, at the heart of Watchmen is a message about the dangers of the nuclear arms race and the general violence & discord in society. Even though these things are still a concern today, this aspect of the story feels pretty dated 20+ years after being written and the collapse of the Soviet empire. I wonder how this will translate in the movie and what concessions had to be made to help it appeal to the modern audience.

The Comedian, Silk Spectre, Dr.Manhattan, Ozymandias, Nite Owl, Rorschach
In the end, it was an enjoyable read with some great complex characters, but I think calling it "One of the 100 Best Novels since 1923" as Time Magazine did is a stretch. It may have been fresh at the time to see comic book heroes portrayed as fallable humans with common foibles and imperfect pasts, but nowadays we are knee deep in anti-heroes and cynicism. If you enjoy the book or the coming movie, and are interested in reading more stories of imperfect superheroes, I recommend checking out the Wild Cards series edited by George R.R. Martin. I read those books years ago and Watchmen reminded me of them quite a bit.

After finishing the book, I went back and re-watched the trailers and every shot was recognizable as a scene from the book so it looks like they are sticking very close to the source material. It will be interesting to see how much they can fit into the 2 hour 43 minute runtime and how its going to be received by the public. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Watchmen when it comes out March 6th.

Here are the trailers if you haven't seen them
  

  
1 Comments
1 Comments
Posted by Messier

After seeing the trailer for the upcoming Watchmen movie, which played before The Day the Earth Stood Still, I decided it would be a good idea to read the graphic novel before the movie is released in March. Its always fun to be one of those twits who needs to let you know that they read the book and it was SO MUCH BETTER than the movie. In reality, I just wanted to see what all the geek love heaped upon it by the nerd population was about.

For my neighbors under the rock where I was living, Watchmen was a 12 issue limited DC Comics series originally published in 1986 written by Alan Moore, whose other works include V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. While it involves costumed heroes, it's a more gritty portrayal of these characters, their motivations and the world in which they operate. The series narrative follows many paths, but the main thread tying them all together is the mystery surrounding the murder of The Comedian, a retired masked man thrown out the window of his apartment in the opening pages. Some of his former colleagues see a conspiracy targeting former heroes, those with a low opinion of The Comedian & his morally ambiguous history see it as a man reaping what he had sowed. This all takes place in an alternate 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President, America was victorious in Vietnam due to the assistance of superheroes, electric cars fill the streets and zeppelins fill the skies. Moore does a good job of building a deep backstory, explaining the origin of these vigilantes, the generation of costumed characters that came before them, how they affected history and how they came to fall out of favor with the public & ultimately outlawed by Congress.

Original Watchmen
One thing unchanged in the Watchmen's 1985 is the threat of nuclear war between the super powers which escalates as the story unfolds. As with many pieces of fiction created during the Cold War, at the heart of Watchmen is a message about the dangers of the nuclear arms race and the general violence & discord in society. Even though these things are still a concern today, this aspect of the story feels pretty dated 20+ years after being written and the collapse of the Soviet empire. I wonder how this will translate in the movie and what concessions had to be made to help it appeal to the modern audience.

The Comedian, Silk Spectre, Dr.Manhattan, Ozymandias, Nite Owl, Rorschach
In the end, it was an enjoyable read with some great complex characters, but I think calling it "One of the 100 Best Novels since 1923" as Time Magazine did is a stretch. It may have been fresh at the time to see comic book heroes portrayed as fallable humans with common foibles and imperfect pasts, but nowadays we are knee deep in anti-heroes and cynicism. If you enjoy the book or the coming movie, and are interested in reading more stories of imperfect superheroes, I recommend checking out the Wild Cards series edited by George R.R. Martin. I read those books years ago and Watchmen reminded me of them quite a bit.

After finishing the book, I went back and re-watched the trailers and every shot was recognizable as a scene from the book so it looks like they are sticking very close to the source material. It will be interesting to see how much they can fit into the 2 hour 43 minute runtime and how its going to be received by the public. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Watchmen when it comes out March 6th.

Here are the trailers if you haven't seen them