Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Watchmen; 413 pages
Writer: Alan Moore
Illustrator: Dave Gibbons
Colorist: John Higgins
If you've heard the hype over the years, believe it. This is the Bible of graphic novels, and, I'm convinced, one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. It has one of the best beginnings, one of the best endings; the first three panels immediately draw you in, and the very last leaves you speechless, helpless in the matter of articulating what you've just experienced. Whenever Watchmen is spoken of, it must be in the superlative sense exclusively. It was the first graphic novel I ever read, and subsequent forays into finding its equal in the genre have proved futile. But that's okay, because every rereading of Watchmen is just as satisfying as the first, perhaps more so; having seen the story in its entirety, you can sit back and admire how skillfully and efficiently it is woven together, without any sacrifice of depth.
The story is darkly humorous, succinct (not a panel is wasted), and profound, poignantly exploring ideas like determinism and moral relativism, while questioning the ability of man as an individual and a collective to ever obtain the ideal - whatever they deem the "ideal" to be. And Rorschach is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining characters ever put to a page.
Avoid watching the movie of the same name, as it tries to translate to the screen what is untranslatable. Avoid the recent spin-off "Before Watchmen" series, as it tampers with perfection, and inevitably falls short.
I recently ran across an old schoolmate who mentioned that Watchmen is now required reading at a high school we attended. If Watchmen had been part of the curriculum in freshman English as opposed to, let's say, The Great Gatsby or Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, the latter being a snore-fest to the ^nth degree, perhaps I would've actually showed up every once in a while and learned how to diagram a sentence. But I digress.
Watchmen. Read it.