Review – Watchmen

Publisher/s: DC Comics

Genre: Superhero, mystery, adventure

Author/s: Alan Moore

Artist/s: Dave Gibbons

Format: Limited Series

No. of Issues: 12

Vintage: September 1986 – October 1987

Created by Alan Moore, Watchmen is a 12-issue limited series comic book published by DC Comics from 1986 – 1987.  Dave Gibbons was the artist and John Higgins was responsible for colouring.  In 1988, Watchmen received a Hugo Award.

Watchmen is a much darker take on the superhero genre and is a violent, complex story set in an alternative reality where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s and helped the U.S. win the Vietnam War.  Set in the present (1985) where costumed adventurers and vigilantes have been banned, either retiring or working for the government, and tensions between Russia and the United States are at their peak with nuclear war looming around the corner.  The United States has a secret weapon in the form of a ’superman’ named Dr. Manhattan who keeps the Russians in check and in doing so, has halted nuclear war.

When a government-contracted superhero, The Comedian, is murdered a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation and in doing so pulls the rest of ‘The Watchmen’ out of retirement.

As far as composition goes, Watchmen’s panel layout differed from average comics from that time, the pages were divided into a 9 panel grid, Gibbons favoured the grid system due to its ‘authority’ and Alan Moore approved of it too saying it gave him more control over the storytelling.  Watchmen is also comprised of wonderfully moody colours punctuated by detailed and varied scenery.

As part of Time Magazine’s All-Time Graphic Novels, a list of the 100 best graphic novels from 1923 to present, Watchmen was listed as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time and it’s well-deserved.

I highly recommend reading Watchmen, specially if you’ve only watched the film because you’ll be able to see all the sections that were omitted as well as the climax of the story as it was originally done. It is currently available at Readers Den Comic Shop in Claremont,  to me it really is one of the greatest comics ever made, the plot, setting, atmosphere and rich characters make for an exciting read that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.

Grade: S

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