33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start your collection with this one
Needless to repeat what everyone else has said here, but I'll share my story:
Three years ago, I walked into a comic book store and asked the owner, "I don't know anything about comics. How do I get started?" He told me to start with the best, and that although every later comic that I would pick up afterwards won't be as good as that first one, it's the one...
Published on Dec 27 2005 by Alain Kin Wong
1.0 out of 5 stars A much overrated work
As I read this graphic novel and thought of the rave reviews it has been given for nearly thirty years, I thought about H C Andersen’s classic fairy tale about the emperor with no clothes. His subjects had been sold on the propaganda of the emperor’s illustrious magnificence and applauded him as he was paraded through the crowds. Their preconceptions overruled...
Published 5 months ago by S Svendsen
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start your collection with this one,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)Needless to repeat what everyone else has said here, but I'll share my story:
Three years ago, I walked into a comic book store and asked the owner, "I don't know anything about comics. How do I get started?" He told me to start with the best, and that although every later comic that I would pick up afterwards won't be as good as that first one, it's the one to start with.
Sure enough, I bought "Watchmen" that fateful day - and came back two days later for "V for Vendetta". That was the start of my love-affair with the graphic novel genre.
I went on to read Garth Ennis' Preacher, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Sin City, all landmark graphic novels of our time.
And though these were all remarkable books (and I recommend all of the above series), they still came second to "Watchmen", which will always be the top model of the genre by which all other comics are compared to.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't expect to like it, but it deserves its reputation,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)Having long heard Watchmen's praises, I resisted reading it because I dislike the late 80's and 90's ultraviolent comics, and I assumed Watchmen to be the quintessential comic of this type. I've finally read it, and I was wrong. It deserves its reputation. Violence serves theme and plot without being exploitative.
SPOILER: I'll discuss the story's ending. I'll also compare Watchmen to other works, such as Kingdom Come.
I think Watchmen is basically a condemnation of ubermensch theory (Nietzsche's idea that "supermen" are entitled to violate society's moral laws, imposing their will on those "inferior" to themselves. Hitler infamously used the theory to justify Nazism. I concede I am no expert on Nietzsche.), and an accusation that superhero stories endorse this philosophy by lionizing vigilantes. Watchmen also attacks the genre's simplistic good vs. evil morality.
Only one character has "superpowers" to justify claims of superiority, yet Dr. Manhattan takes too little interest in human affairs to want to control others. On the contrary, he lets himself be used as a tool, hoping to retain his humanity by pleasing people. Yet he's now too detached to morally judge his orders, becoming a living military weapon. Apparently, desire for power over others is for mortals living among mortals--like Ozymandias, the archetypal Aryan "superman": a blonde, blue-eyed, physically perfect, supremely brilliant, self-made billionaire.
Achieving peace through slaughter, Ozymandias, like his hero Alexander, embodies Nietzsche's belief that ends justify means. If paradise is attainable through atrocities, as Nazi and Soviet propaganda claimed, is it worth it? And, once the eggs are broken, should one reap the benefits of the sin? (I ask this sitting comfortably in California, stolen first from Native Americans, then from Mexico.)
Rorschach--Watchmen's brutal, uncompromising conscience--says no, and his journal seems to give him the last word. Yet Rorschach tortures for information, sometimes needlessly. Besides, his winning may mean Armageddon.
In keeping with a thought experiment in Nietzsche's worldview, Watchmen's universe is an apparently godless one, as stated by several characters. Crime and Punishment's Raskolnikov justifies murder through Neitzschean arguments, but then feels remorse and, through this reluctant acceptance of higher morality, comes to believe in God. C.S. Lewis's arguments in favor of God's existence hinge on morality's independence of human preference. Watchmen's ending is too ambiguous for any divinely transcendent morality or providence to be clear to the characters or reader. As a Christian, I acknowledge the realism of this ambiguity, for even assuming that God exists and His will constitutes absolute morality, His moral intent is rarely as discernable in real life as in melodramas (the classic example of divine inscrutibility being Job's sufferings in the Bible). As Hollis Mason says in chapter 3, "Real life is messy, inconsistent, and it's seldom when anything really gets resolved."
I like Watchmen--but fear I now better understand why the genre degenerated following its publication. It's a damning attack on superheroes, yet publishers couldn't stop printing their bread and butter, so self-indictment pervaded superhero books of the following years as they struggled with Moore's accusations. Also, as Neil Gaiman observes in his introduction to Busiek's "Astro City: Confessions," the easiest "riff" of both Watchmen and Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" for hacks to steal was darkness, not depth.
There are other reasons for the so-called "Iron Age's" violent nihilism besides Watchmen and DKR's influence. Such trends were already growing in early 80's comics. DC had ravaged almost its entire stock of characters in 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths." There was also the need to satisfy reader bloodlust once the maligned Comics Code, for better or for worse, became a rubber stamp. Universally recognized characters synonymous with virtue in the public imagination became brutal, wrathful, petty--and if heroes became jerks, villains became the most lurid sadists imaginable. This culminated in the near-plotless splatterpunk and exploitative sadism of the early Image Comics. "Good vs. evil" became "merely evil vs. nauseatingly evil." Moore expressed dismay that things took the direction they did in those years.
Watchmen's theme is: if Nietzsche were right, as superhero comics claim, that would be terrible. It took a decade for superhero writers to rebut this accusation. Their answer came in Waid and Ross's "Kingdom Come" and was: We never claimed Nietzsche was right--the essence of superheroes is that the stronger someone is, the LESS excuse he has to abuse the weak, and the greater his obligation to them. (As Stan Lee wrote years earlier: "With great power there must also come--great responsibility!" Or, as Moore himself has Superman say in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, "Nobody has the right to kill... not [even] Superman. Especially not Superman!") KC portrays a higher morality--indeed, a God-given one, delivered through the mortal Norman McCay. Perhaps it requires divine perspective to see that an ant who can shatter mountains is no better or worse than his fellow ants. Unlike Watchmen, but like most superhero comics, most of KC's characters have "powers"--flight, invulnerability, etc.--differentiating them from general humanity in a way that even bullet-catching Ozymandias is not. Yet they're not blessed/burdened with near godhood like Dr. Manhattan (staggeringly powerful even by superhero standards, Manhattan perceives all moments simultaneously, and creates and destroys life at will. He has no common reference with humans.). Powerful, yet mortal, they have no more free license to sin than anyone. Probably less. KC portrays a world which needs to relearn this, just as the comics industry needed to relearn it. (One shortcoming: unlike Watchmen, KC isn't self-contained. It assumes reader familiarity with Superman, Batman, etc. and with ultraviolent comics. )
KC and Watchmen bookend the Iron Age. Watchmen unintentionally (I say unintentionally because Moore apparently laments the fact) helped begin it, and KC helped end it.
Yet despite spawning these trends, Watchmen itself is breathtaking, complex literature which takes masterful advantage of comics' visual medium.
Warning: This is not an acceptable comic for children. An R-rated story with lots of sex and violence, Watchmen is a story for grown-ups.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, baby,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)Yes, this is an graphic novel, but every page carries every ounce of narrative density and depth that you'd expect from a more text-heavy tome. Frankly, there's so much to say about this work that I hardly know where to begin, so I won't. Instead, I'll just heartily recommend it to everyone--not just my comic geek friends. In fact, I would <i>especially</i> recommend it to friends of mine who don't read comics or graphic novels because they think those things are (a). just for kids or (b). not as satisfying as a more traditionally formatted read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words cannot even describe...,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)...the sheer genius that is 'Watchmen'. This one took me a good week to finish because of the end notes of each chapter which is both informative and detailed in regards to the progression of the characters within the novel. Essentially, this novel has amazing art-work with an amazing writer, Alan Moore, of course. All I can say is buy it. It had that great 80's feel to it, and the continuity with the time period is amazing and just adds to the already astounding atmosphere. If you've seen the film and are wanting to buy it, when I read it, it felt like I was reading the script to the film with pictures to add to detail. Although, with this novel, like all novel-book adaptions, there is always more information and untold stories/dialogue that will be found within as opposed to the motion picture.
1.0 out of 5 stars A much overrated work,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)As I read this graphic novel and thought of the rave reviews it has been given for nearly thirty years, I thought about H C Andersen’s classic fairy tale about the emperor with no clothes. His subjects had been sold on the propaganda of the emperor’s illustrious magnificence and applauded him as he was paraded through the crowds. Their preconceptions overruled actuality to the point that although the emperor appeared before them naked, they minds’ eyes observed an esteemed personage bedecked in the most resplendent and opulent outfit imaginable—until a child, who had not been indoctrinated in the emperors infallible greatness, called out the truth, that he was naked.
I have put off reading Watchmen for a long time. I have always been leery and suspicious of pop culture media endorsements, which probably explains my reluctance. Having many decades behind me of reading graphic novels &/ sequential art narratives, I finally relented and was looking forward to an enjoyable visual feast and enjoyable read. After all, all those critics could not be wrong, could they? Well, I have seldom been more disappointed so here is my review.
First of all, in the first chapters the reader is presented with a cast of unfamiliar characters and events that are difficult to make sense of and relate one to the other. It did get better in later chapters as I grasped more of how the characters did relate to each other and the past scenario was contrasted with the present. But I failed to enjoy the task of identifying who was speaking in the background and on the side in all those rectangular boxes that are superimposed on the art throughout the book. The narrative from beginning to end is a baffling stew of flashbacks, sidesteps, futuristic reveries, introspective innuendos, science-fictional inventions and irrelevant psychobabble with an overlay having an Ibsenesque, socially pretentious and politically assumptive dramatic relevance. How’s that for a list of distractive incoherent elements? A mad scientist, black fantasy apocalyptic theme carries through to the conclusion of the work. The line art by Dave Gibbons is excellent but provocatively bewildered by garish, gory and ghoulish coloring.
What is the chief criterion in judging a book? Whether it provides enjoyment has to be of the first importance. I enjoyed very little of this book. Why? To be enjoyed a book has to be generally comprehensible. More often than not Watchmen is incomprehensible. It may be bizarre, absurd, frustrating, deranged, chilling, cryptic and bombastic—all of which describe the book—but still it needs to be comprehensibly communicated by the author to the reader to be enjoyable. I realize that if I reread this book three or four times I would probably get a better grasp of its contents, but I have other much better books waiting to be read.
Alan Moore has written a lot of good material but for me Watchmen is not well put together. I think the book is far overrated to the point of having achieved cult status. And, cults are not open to be critically assessed. The established mythos surrounding Watchmen comprises its elaborate outward impression, but I say that is an elaborate pretentious hoax. In reality I found Watchmen to be “naked”—lacking in outstanding merit. In my estimation it should be renowned for its pomposity. Sorry to all true believers! (Is it not apropos that the blue-skinned alien Dr Manhattan appears naked throughout the book?)
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth so much more than the price!,
This review is from: Watchmen (Kindle Edition)At $4 this purchase is a no-brainer. Great story. Amazing art. I've read my well worn trade paperback a number of times over the last decade or so, and when I saw this priced at $4 I had to jump on it! I have kindle for iPad...I downloaded it specifically for this. So basically this is my first kindle purchase and it's got me looking at other graphic novels for the app. I had no idea the breadth of content that exists. I'll be spending more money on kindle graphic novels for sure based on this bargain priced book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)wow. Tis product is awesome. This is a new birth for comics. This is like challenging the art. I Suggest it!
5.0 out of 5 stars The One to Own,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)I am one who read this amazing, genre changing story live. I had to wait for the next installment, now you have all in one. The sheer audacity of twisting the idea of super-heroes into outcasts blew me away. But the brilliance of what Moore and Gibbons goes beyond that. They tapped into the Cold War worries, how ineffectual our systems are to who we tend to admire. For the brilliance comes from the subtle sub-plot of the "The Tales of the Black Freighter". A person sitting by a newsstand is reading this but it reflect the actual story. For me, Moore and Gibbons defined a classic that shows that comic books can be more than just fan-geek.
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Deserves its Legendary Status,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)When reviewing a work of the caliber of Watchmen it is genuinely difficult to know what to say - except that its cyclopean reputation is entirely deserved.
I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'm going to keep things abstract. Watchmen simultaneously deconstructs its own genre while giving voice to one of the great "absolutes" of literary fiction: the human quest for morality and meaning in an inherently meaningless and amoral universe. Perhaps this latter aspect explains why the aptly named "Rorschach" has become so iconic of this work as a whole.
Amazingly, Watchmen achieves all this while simultaneously spinning a superheroic epic that easily holds its own against anything you're going to find in the latest avengers/xmen/blackest night/justice league cosmic crossover.
Speaking of Justice League, it's interesting to think about just how much the Project Cadmus storyline in Justice League Unlimited, Seasons 1-2 (DC Comics Classic Collection) owes to Watchmen. Indeed, I find that I can't help but draw comparisons. Justice League Unlimited is most certainly its own show, and by no means a slavish remake of Watchmen. Yet both, in their own way, take a long hard look at the myth of the superhero and ask us if this is really something that we would want. Certainly, it can be no accident that in the Project Cadmus story, The Question takes the central role that he does. In Alan Moore's original proposal for Watchmen, the role ultimately filled by Rorschach was then taken by The Question.
But where the Project Cadmus story arc races headlong towards the edge of the abyss only to back away at the last second, explaining with an apologetic cough and a nervous giggle that really, it's only a children's show after all, Watchmen careens off the edge of that abyss at full speed without hesitating for so much as a heartbeat. It leaves us suspended anchorless mid-air, entirely on our own in our attempts to re-orient ourselves as we hurtle directionless through this new void.
One final point: I'm writing this review for the softcover edition of Watchmen. Personally, I own both the basic softcover edition and the and hardcover version of the "absolute" edition. The latter of the two contains a lot of interesting extras, but at the same time, it's really too large, heavy, and unwieldy for comfort. It's a great coffee table book, but it's not something you want to just lie back and read. For that, I'd definitely recommend the softcover version.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)This really deserves all the praise it gets. The story is really well told and the artwork is great. I'm really happy I believed the hype and grabbed this to read.
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Watchmen by Alan Moore (Paperback - April 1 1995)
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