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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

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3.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligent and Fun Comic
Many people have tried to convince me that the best the comics world has to offer is as good as the best that literature has to offer. I haven't seen it yet. I checked out some of this comic literature, fascinated with the form as I am, to see if this was true. Watchmen (along with the dark knight returns) is the best that the super-hero comic ever gets (so the critics...
Published on Sept. 8 2003 by J. Russell


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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching the Watchmen, July 11 2007
By 
Greg "neurosky" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
A superhero called the Comedian is thrown out the window of his apartment and killed ... murdered. Soon afterwards, another is framed for causing cancer to those he has been in relations with. And the strikes continue, upon the survivors of a superhero group who had called themselves the Crimebusters. Who has discovered their secret identities? How? And why do they want them removed? The threat of a nuclear war, the third World War, lingers, as these not-so-super superheroes struggle to find who has been orchestrating their removal, and the destruction of mankind.

"Watchmen" is nothing that you could presume it could be going in. It's a satire, it's a drama, it's a murder mystery, it's a superhero comic mini-series ... and a landmark in the medium. The artwork is fantastic, and very professionally plotted out to make it easy to read. Colour is used more as an emotional anchor than to distract from what is happening. You'll find here is a fantastic literary achievement, chronicling the later adventures of strong-willed individuals, driven to save humanity from itself. It dishes out psychology-rich, deep-reaching personal profiles of the characters, exploring into what shaped them, what drives them. You come to feel that you are reading an illustrated recording of actual events, accurately portrayed, despite some tall-tale elements. Its believability is as striking as its vivid reflection of reality. "Watchmen" serves as a mirror to better view a world in crisis that we easily glance away from. There is no arguing with the problems which "Watchmen" exposes. It's stark, gritty realism.

Alan Moore (writer of "V For Vendetta" and "Swamp Thing"), and artist Dave Gibbons ("2,000 AD", "Green Lantern") teamed up to make a comic mini-series to prove the industry wasn't just for kids, and that such a comic could be as literary, as meaningful, and as deeply gripping, as any novel. The heroes were loosely based on those of Charlton Comics, but they are fully their own characters. The idea of the book is simple -- what if superheroes were real? What if, in this messed-up world, there were people screwy enough to don silly guises and try to save it? How safe could we be without them? How safe could we be with them?

I was delighted that Amazon sent it to me in mint condition, with the British release cover version as it advertises (the American release cover shows a window breaking and is a far less original first glimpse upon such a powerful book.) "Watchmen" is the first graphic novel to win a Hugo award and earn a spot in Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels. It stands as a work of high cultural influence, a subject of discussion, and a marvel in storytelling. A book to read once, read several times more, hold onto and treasure for a lifetime.

"Who watches the watchmen?"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if costumed superheroes really existed?, June 22 2004
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
That is the simple question that Watchmen poses and is one of the many clever conceits that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons employ throughout the 12-issue mini-series that is collected in this fine trade paperback.
Moore and Gibbons present a world not unlike ours. An alternate reality where the United States won Vietnam (thanks to Dr. Manhattan--the book's only Superman) and as a result Nixon stayed President. Dirgibles instead of airplanes can be seen in the sky, there are electric powered cars and a popular fast food chain of Indian restaurants known as Gunga Diner are everywhere.
In this world, superheroes have been outlawed because the police felt that their jobs were threatened and so only Government sanctioned costumed heroes can legally operate. That doesn't stop Rorschach, a masked vigilante from plying his trade.
Why am I going into all this detail? Because Watchmen is all about the details. Moore and Gibbons vividly draw us into this world through the most minute details, often populating the backgrounds of panels so that they only become obvious upon multiple readings.
What is so astounding about Watchmen is that it works on so many levels. Superficially, it's a murder mystery. However, it also asks many big questions like, who makes the world? Who is responible? Is everything planned out or is it all up to chance?
Watchmen is also a marvel of technique. Moore and Gibbons employ all sorts of film techniques (zoom ins, close-ups, revolving "the camera" around somebody, lighting effects, etc) and also several techniques of rhythm. For example, look closely at the panel layout for Chapter 5: Feaful Symmetry. The panel layout on the first page is exactly the same as the last page and so on until the center pages which mirror each other perfectly. Or all of the smiley face images that pop up throughout the various chapters. This is only a taste of what is going on in this book. It really is an astounding work.
There is a reason why Watchmen is so highly regarded. It is an amazing accomplishment and one that takes the costumed superhero genre seriously. If you haven't ever read this book before then I strongly recommend checking it out. If you aren't a huge fan of comic books, this one will change your mind. It proves that comics aren't just for kids. Not any more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Comedian is Dead, but not Forgotten, May 6 2002
By 
phimseto (Chestnut Hill, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
Long before "Kingdom Come" meditated on a world without heroes, around the same time as Frank Miller's "Dark Knight" returned, and executed more forcefully than the "X-Men"'s story of Sentinels and Mutant Registration Acts, Alan Moore & company asked "Who watches the Watchmen?"
Set in a world where heroes and vigilante justice have run their course, and the last era of superheroes are living out their days quietly with their own ghosts, "Watchmen" is an amazing piece of literature and comic book artistry. The series itself, twelve issues now commonly packaged in one booklet, is sprung from the golden age of graphic novels - the 1980's, where graphic novels told stories and presented images where normal comics, movies, and televison shows feared to tread. Perhaps most importantly, the themes of the story ring as true today as they did then, and the emotionally-invested reader will perhaps see themselves in the everyday characters talking sports and entertainment as the newspaper headlines blare klaxons of war and pending doom. Society entrusts its safety to a greater body politic, but who watches the watchmen and what is the price paid for handing over the responsibilities of self-defense and indulging in a comfortable apathy?
These are the driving themes behind "Watchmen", a graphic novel so stunningly well-written and well-drawn that I do not hesitate to recommend it to even the most ardant skeptics who look upon comics with disdain, never thinking to read anything remotely associated with them. "Watchmen" represents the perfect synergy between the use of pictures, the potency of the written word, and the sublime power of symolism that drives artists wielding either brush or pen to record their art permanently on canvas or paper. A worthy investment that stands tall amongst the great literary works of the latter part of the 20th century.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars The comic book that raised a fun medium & hobby to a respected art, June 21 2007
By 
J. Tupone (Saskatchewan) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
I was a comic collector in my early teens during the later eighties and very early nineties. I had a difficult time keeping up with the various titles that were available and mainly focused on Batman comics and the odd too good to pass up mini-series that became available on a first print. At that time, I would always notice the monthly issues of the limited series placed inside a protective comic book bag, with the "required" cardboard backing and pinned up to a wall for display, under soft lighting to protect the cover artwork. As I struggled to keep up with the first print titles, I would always being wondering about the "Watchmen" and ask myself "what the hell is the big deal with this "Watchmen" series?" Well, now I've discovered first hand what the big deal is.

This is an outstanding piece of work. I'm about a third of the way through the graphic novel and I have a really difficult time putting it down. I'm hoping to finish it in the next couple of nights because I'm finding myself a little too pre-occupied with the wondering what's going to happen next. Moore has done an excellent job "sucking" you into the story by slowly letting things unravel to always leave some ambiguity as to what will transpire next. The fact that the characters are all creations of the "Watchmen Universe" adds a great deal to the story as the author doesn't have to worry about adhering to particular comic book cannon or other back stories that were previously established. This self-contained "Watchmen Universe" is part of what makes the graphic novel so great; the reader goes into this story without any pre-conceived notion of what to expect or without any idea of the characters' backgrounds, etc. Everything you need to know is in the novel, you just have to keep reading and let things unfold. This is as great a work of fiction as any I've ever read. I'm not sure it's the best, but it definitely deserves to be on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present."

If you have ever had a modicum of interest in reading this graphic novel, quit hesitating and just purchase it. You'll be pleased when you finally sit down to start reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars defense of watchmen, March 9 2004
By 
kevin anderson (bakersfield, ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
first, i wish "a reader from Israel" (who is probably the same person writing mulitple reviews) would stop. one review is enough.
second, watchmen is not about superheroes, but about well rounded and convincing characters who happen to be costumed heroes. watchmen does explore the implications of being a costumed hero, but it is only one of many facets to this novel. secondly, it is filled with cleaver imagery and various symbolism which ties into the book from beginning to end. you'll often find yourself skimming back in the book in order to catch them. it also makes excellent work in taking advantage of it's genre and well proves that sequential art is as valid as any other medium.
contrary to what "a reader from Israel" may say, the point of the book is not to be realistic (although i find the historical fiction of it to be very interesting). after all, if it were totally realistic, no super-heroes would be involved. if you want realism go read a historical piece, because it's not what fiction is for.
finally, watchmen had several compelling, sincere, and compassionate moments which will tug at your heart-strings.
i'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys complicated fiction (so dont close you mind to it just because a close-minded review told you to)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty durn good, March 7 2004
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
Reading the other reviews of "Watchmen" by Alan Moore, I wonder if there's any stone left unturned, whether any praises have yet to be extolled for this awesome collection. Still, I obsessively post this review because I feel almost required as a comic book fan to say how great Watchmen is.
"Watchmen" focuses on a world which is one step away from nuclear warfare between America and a vague Soviet threat. Takes place almost entirely in New York City which is functionally drawn by Dave Gibbons. The art is different from a comparable story like "The Dark Knight Returns" which has a similar setting and plot. While Dark Knight uses painted art, Watchmen has the four colors scheme which many people are familiar with, I think that the art never holds the story back, but it also never really elevates Moore's story to another level. Functional.
There are a lot of colorful characters; I like Rorschach most, whenever he wasn't on the page, I would wonder what he was doing. Rorschach is actually one of the last masked adventurers left, because the government has prohibited vigilante activity. At first, Rorschach is the sole protagonist of the story, but others are pretty rapidly revealed to the reader, from the blue bodied Dr. Manhattan to the Smartest Man in the World, Adrian Veidt.
I really liked to find out more and more about these people, and whenever Moore chooses to elaborate on a character's personality or origins, it's usually pertinent to the greater plot.
Plotwise, "Watchmen" is remarkable. Although it looks pretty long this is an extremely tight collection, it moves well towards the ending, which is mind blowing.
I would reccomend "Watchmen" to mature people in general, it's appeal reaches beyond the cognoscenti of the comic book world, I had only read "Preacher" and "Dark Knight Returns" before reading Watchmen at first, and I loved Watchmen. However, it's pretty bloody, although not even nearly as bloody as a comic like Preacher, and it's somewhat profane although also not on the level of Preacher. It's probably like a 4 on the violence meter and 2 on the profanity meter, if Preacher was a 10.
A good reason to buy this, as opposed to read this in the store, is that it's pretty long. I guess that someone could feasibly complete Watchmen in one sitting, but it took me a few hours to do, and I think it would have really detracted from my overall experience to rush it. Also this is a pretty serious graphic novel, it has lots of nice layers and it's the type of thing that I imagine most people will read a few times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the Hype, March 1 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Watchmen (Paperback)
You might be inclined to dismiss reviewers who gush that Watchmen is a great literary work: "They're just over-exuberant comic book fans blah blah blah." Don't be so hasty, and I say that as someone with degrees in English lit (who also appreciates comics).
While Watchmen isn't Shakespeare or Milton--duh--and suffers from some clumsiness, it's certainly intelligent, thought provoking, and even poetic at times, either visually or textually. It bears many of the hallmarks of great literature, like an investigation of substantial themes (use and abuse of power, moral responsibility, fate vs. chance or free will, hubris, etc.) and their effects on everday people, well-rounded characters that you can never fully love or hate precisely because they're more like real people than cardboard cutouts, a multi-layered and partially self-referential narrative structure, and more.
Part of what makes this story so entertaining and thought provoking is the way it makes full use of its chosen medium. Watchmen is filled with visual/textual puns (not often of the humorous variety, unless it's black humor) and running visual commentaries on the text and vice versa. The medium allows Moore and Gibbons to feature mirrored or parallel strands of ideas or narrative at the same time instead of having to switch back and forth, as in purely text-based fiction.
As for the art, it's straightforward and effective and finely detailed, if a bit anonymous in technique and style. Actually, a more prominent, personal style arguably would have detracted from Watchmen; the seeming prosaic anonymity of the art lends the fictional world more verisimilitude--an "everyday" look for a world of relatively realistic people you're supposed to believe in, as opposed to wild fantasy.
Speaking of the art, it's been said that the characters in Watchmen are poorly developed, and that's been chalked up to Moore. That seems to show a misunderstanding of the genre. Comics aren't simply illustrated texts; the visuals in comics play an equal or greater role in the storytelling as the accompanying words do. As in film or theater, what you see of the characters--their expressions and body language and unique features--says at least as much as any written text. When you take both words and images into account, you can see that the characters here are indeed well rounded.
Overall, then, great stuff. It's fun to watch Moore and Gibbons have their cake and eat it, too, by revelling in traditional comic book superheroics while critiquing the very notion and adding many new layers of depth to it. Be sure to check out Moore's V for Vendetta, which is arguably an even more intelligent and "adult" look at the masked "hero".
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Watchmen
Watchmen by Alan Moore (Paperback - April 1 1995)
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