Aug 7, 2008

[Comics] Watchmen

WatchmenMy current comic book mania started with the release of the Watchmen trailer for their new movie scheduled for release next year. Let's face it - most circle agree that Watchmen is perhaps one of if not THE greatest comic book series ever made. It truly defined the graphic novel genre given the complexity and intricacy of its story and its storytelling and the level of thinking required to appreciate the concepts and ideas presented in the book.

In celebration of the upcoming movie (that does certainly look very promising at this stage), I went out to secure a copy for myself just so I could read it again and bask in its glory.

And of course that experience was eventually translated into this review.

The world of Alan Moore's Watchmen is an alternative view of 1985. It's a time beyond costumed superheroes (with only one of them truly being "super") in a world balancing on the edge of a knife. The Cold War era was such an interesting period and it did present an interesting backdrop to tell a story of heroes living a world that's pretty much left them behind.

But now the heroes are being hunted down and killed or removed from the playing field one by one. Is it some former nemesis seeking revenge? Is it some new menace out to challenge the heroes of old? Or is it some far greater threat looming beyond?

The cast of Watchmen, clockwise from top: Dr M...Image via WikipediaWatchmen is unlike any other comic book or graphic novel really. Told in twelve gripping parts, each is a masterpiece in itself, each panel rich with nuances of meaning leading to an overall picture that Moore paints for us with the art of a Master. He drove the story in a particular direction, taking each character into separate yet interconnected journeys that all led to the stunning climax. This is not some rock'em, sock'em action piece - this is an intelligent work that seeks to analyze some of the more basic aspects of our humanity using the contrasting image of costumed heroes as his speakers.

Each of the characters is amazingly defined and each plays a particular role in the overall plot. It's not just what they do that matters, but also who they are. That's what makes the difference in the end.

Even how the story was told was unlike any other. To the untrained mind, one would complain that there's just too much going on, too many events, too many layers and too many twists that it seems the story is unfocused and confused. But when you really study it, when you take a step back beyond yourself and let your mind just absorb everything and take in the totality of the work with every passing issue, then the pattern emerges and the brilliance of this story truly shines forth. It's far more than just what is written on the page in a literal sense.

Watchmen is definitely a work that will stand the test of time, a story that was told as best as it could ever be told such that all other interpretations that follow shouldn't even bother to complete but should instead try to bring something new to the vision. As far as comic books go, this is as close to perfect as I can imagine it at this point.
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