Author: Alan Moore, illus. by Dave Gibbons
Reading Level: YA, Adult
Publisher: DC Comic
Edition: Paperback, 1987
It took me a long time to finish this seemingly slim volume. I took in every word, every image, and every reference as slowly as I could manage. Not that the story is too complex, but its form does demand some attention and appreciation: the interwoven stories of the masked vigilantes and the embedded graphic novel of the Black Freighter (or the Pirate story as my students refer to it) and the various texts of the story-within-the story by one of the side characters and all the other para-“documents.”
I enjoyed all the double-descriptors: words and phrases that convey the meaning for one scene but also aptly describe the situations of another scene. Moore employed this technique through out the novel — it did not get tired for me, just amusing.
The final two “chapters,” however, seem to rely too much on Adrian’s explanation of his whole back story and his reasons behind all the plans and schemes, slowing down the momentum and diminishing the thrilling mystery part of the whole tale. I wish Moore had figured out a more active and exciting way for the exposing of Adrian and his plot.
I also must say that I think the filmmakers did a fantastic job translating the novel into the movie. The only real gripe I have is in the odd casting of Adrian’s role — instead of an athletic superhero, the actor seems fragile and without the kind of commanding presence that this role demands. The movie ends differently from the book — having gotten rid of the entire side story of the vanishing artists, novelists, and scientists with their creation of the “alien being” that devastates half of New York City — but by putting the blame on Dr. Manhattan, the film has added another layer of emotional burden onto a major character and I have to applaud that particular line of changes. And, may I say that I absolutely ADORE Rorschach in the movie — his scenes are most memorable and the actor’s skillful portrayal of this tragic hero is impeccable!
One response to “Watchmen”
Watchmen grew on me over five readings. I don't apologize for being a slow/poor reader. That I read at all is some sort of miracle.
I felt that Adrian Veidt's backstory was necessary, but came too late in the graphic novel to allow the audience to understand him. A "villain" should get as much exposition as possible early in a story so people can grasp what motivates him.
Many of my friends criticize Rorschach, calling him a "teen-angst BS character" because he broods and hates. To me, he's unpleasant, stubborn and extremely uncool. Even his close friends and associates wince at the thought of him. He hardly seems to me to be anything short of fascinating.
I also loved the idea of Nite Owl and Sally Jupiter, two unhappy pathetic retirees finding each other in the stir of oblivion.
Doc Manhattan mentions the unlikeliness of anyone being born. The fact that it happens in the most outrageous way is sort of what makes humanity worth living its course out.
Alan Moore had clearly remarked distaste for anyone trying to make a movie of his book. I think that's a little pompous and purist of him, but that's only my opinion. I am not going to MAKE him watch the movie, even if I think he would be delightfully surprised.
The director of the movie made a comment that Moore didn't appreciate, and that was all the excuse he needed to boycott. Meanwhile, I think the alternate ending is a much more fitting and cojent way to find closure and gives Doc Manhattan a legacy to leave on Earth.
This book converted the idea of comic books into graphic novels. Without it, concepts like "Death of Superman" would be impossible.