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Reviews of Watchmen (1987)

Review by ropie (2006-07-12)
Watchmen is only the second graphic novel I've ever read (the first being the collected Secret Wars) and it's the kind of thing that is *so* good it just makes you want to read more of them. Unfortunately I have a suspicion that I'm never going to be quite as satisfied again reading a comic.

Watchmen puts many non-graphic novels to shame in terms of the sheer quality of characterisation, plot and the seamless flow of action and intrigue. Moore's superb prose is greatly hightened by the technically excellent artwork of Gibbons, though just occasionally one did prop the other up when there was a slight lapse on the part of writer or artist. It got me wondering if the story would have worked quite so well without the visuals (or atleast with the visual information transcribed where necessary) - "probably not" was my feeling, though this is what it is and it would be unfair to judge it in terms of other forms of literature.

The plot itself takes in many aspects of 20th Century paranoia and tragedy: armageddon, the Holocaust, economic collapse, religious fanaticism, mob rule, anarchy, individual and social psychological breakdown. The ties with the Cold War are really central to all of this and there is an interesting juxtaposition with an internally concurrent story of 18th Century pirates, brilliantly portrayed through the eyes of a young comic book reader.

The characters are the real substance of Watchmen though and are all, without question, convincing, memorable and interesting and it's not often you can say that for any story. So much so infact, that by the end of the novel you really feel that you will have a small void in your life where Rorsharch et al once were. Nite Owl and his fascinating yet ridiculous cave of curiosities, The Comedian with his deeply unpleasant but somehow comprehendible nature. Dr Manhattan with his god-like powers stands apart as the one true 'superman' of the stricken team and his story is one of the most fascinating here.

The final chapter, it has to be said, was perhaps *very* slightly disappointing compared to the rollercoaster build-up of the rest of the book. Though somehow I feel it would be difficult to provide a denoument to really cap a story like this, I found the outcome just a little convenient. Having said that it was certainly a surprise and when all's said and done I was impressed to say the least, so it's only a very minor quibble.

Watchmen is one of the most enjoyable reading experiences you can have and maintains an astonishing standard of graphical excellence throughout. With its many layers of plot and historical symbolism it would also be eminently re-readable. 5/5

Review by raistlan316 (2005-09-06)
This is definately one of the top five (if not the top) comic stories of all time. This is a "superhero" tale that details the more human side of the genre. This tale does not rely on flash or eye candy, but rather dazzles you with deep character developement, an excellent plot line, and an addictive story that sucks you in and holds you from start to finish.

This world only has one "superhuman" character. The rest are down and gritty "street level" heroes, much akin to Batman, Daredevil, and the Punisher. This really makes the story feel more "possible" or "human".

All in all, this is a great story that I highly recommend.

Review by nosleep (2003-03-13)
Stylish, gritty and about as realistic as you can make superheroes Watchmen is one of the crowning achievements of the comic industry. Alan Moore has demonstrated many times that he is a master craftsman with a dark edge, but never more than in this highly original and steady flowing tale.
Containing some of the most memorable characters ever layed down in fiction, from Doc Manhattan, to Ozymandius and especially Rorschach, who was the epitome of crazy vigilantes.
If you are a fan of comics, or even of good fiction, then I highly recommend checking out Watchmen.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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