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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
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...
Published on Dec 27 2005 by Alain Kin Wong

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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 10 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, Dec 27 2005
By 
Alain Kin Wong (Montreal, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
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.
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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, March 9 2004
By 
James Cleaveland "webcomic artist" (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, baby, July 13 2004
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy Is Within, Jan. 21 2014
By 
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
"There's a notion I'd like to see buried: the ordinary person. Ridiculous. There is no ordinary person." This is just one the philosophical bon mots liberally resident in one of the most layered and engrossing comic books of all time. These kudos are not given lightly. In fact, Time Magazine voted Watchmen one of the best novels of the 20th Century. I believe this is because of the compelling themes:

Real Life
"Real life is messy, inconsistent, and it's seldom when anything ever really gets resolved. It's taken me a long time to realize that.”
Life is messy and when this explored through the cast of aging superheroes, it is accentuated in a way to give new meaning to the observation.

Anxiety
“In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagines past”
This is incredibly deep given the fantasy lives of superheroes and their alter egos.

Simplicity
“Nothing's that simple, not even things that are simply awful.”
Comic books once wrapped up each story neatly like a thirty minute sitcom. Then the world got more complex and comic books followed. This is reflected beautifully in Watchmen that bridges the early Batman crime fighting sensibility with the darker and deeper comic book output of the 1980's.

But overall, the main story is a person's duality. Superheroes live two lives, wrestle between good and evil, pretend to function in larger society while finding comfort only in their dysfunctional tribe. For them, it is a solitary existence, "We are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later.”

Watchmen can be read in so many ways: existential novel, murder mystery, comic book trivia game. All offer value. The artwork is tremendous, the dialogue believable, and the angst is riveting. Most enjoyable were the newly imagined crime fighters: The Comedian, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl, Rorschach, Ozymandias, and Silk Spectre will pull you into their world. It is a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words cannot even describe..., Aug. 9 2012
By 
j-maAN - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the greatest graphic novel ever written., Dec 22 2013
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This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
Quite possibly the greatest graphic novel ever writte. Alan Moore is a genius. The story was great. The story within the story is great. The movie tried hard, but this is by far the best example of a book being better then the movie. However, I did the like th ending in the movie better. A must have for those who don't like to read or just a fan of comics in general.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, only once, Dec 6 2013
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This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
While an amazing book that is a "must-read" staple for anyone who even remotely likes literature, to me it's a one time read. I enjoyed it and it was well done, but I can read it once and put it away, it was a dry read to me, others may disagree obviously with it being Watchmen. Great read, but only once for me!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth so much more than the price!, May 21 2013
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, April 12 2013
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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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The One to Own, March 1 2013
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.
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Watchmen
Watchmen by Alan Moore (Paperback - April 1 1995)
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