Book Review: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
I received Watchmen as one of those Secret Santa “just exchange with one other person in the office” kinds of gifts. Boy did I luck out! A fellow geek had heard me talking about hobbits or house elves and thought I would enjoy this read.
How did I miss this interpretation of the super hero genre?
The story mostly takes place in 1985, a fantastic time for drawing horrific fashion and hair! Loved it. Super heroes have gone underground or retired after the Keene Act made their vigilante acts illegal. But someone has started killing them.
Scenes of violence and death are pretty graphic. I wouldn’t say indulgent or irresponsible, but present. Some panels I glanced over pretty quickly because I didn’t want to look at the facial expression of the dead guy.
Plenty of flashback scenes are interspersed as various chapters give character studies focusing on each of the super heroes. None of these characters are entirely good. There’s no idealistic practically perfect Superman in this bunch. These characters are flawed.
But they all think they are right. Each one has their own screwed up sense of morality, which makes for a fascinating plot.
As these super heroes progress through solving the mystery, the people of Earth read comics about pirates. Makes sense. If you lived in a world where super heroes exist, but are illegal, why would your comics glorify them? Enter a pirate story that parallels and enhances the action of the Watchmen plot.
And this plot moves right along. In one scene you may be in the city; then a secret government lab. There are scenes on Mars and Antactica! Need a secret lair? There’s more than one.
And the elaborate costumes look great. There’s even a small discussion about the issue: cape or no cape? Nite Owl’s hooded costume grew on me as the novel progressed. At first, I thought his mostly brown spandex costume looked pretty cheesy. But in some of the scenes with snow, his costume looks warm and like perfect camouflage.
In the end, the resolution is just as deliciously screwed up as the morality of these super heroes. Plot strings are tied up nicely, but I’m still pondering some of the philosophical dilemmas.