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THE WATCHMEN
Category: Media Reviews
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 @ 10:16 am
Posted By Brent

I realize that for people more concerned with contemporary media reviews this is about 20 years late, but I recently read The Watchmen, a graphic novel (the name pretentious people give to "big comic books") published across 12 issues in the mid to late eighties. I've never really been big into comic books outside of the casual admiration of Wolverine and keeping up to date on general trivia such as Superman's real name, but I've consistently heard that The Watchmen is a sort of seminal publication as far as the modern comic story is concerned, and even considered ground breaking by today's standards in its use of visual imagery.

The story takes place in a fictional America in which the superhero comicbook boom of the forties and fifties inspired people to start dressing up in superhero suits and running around trying to solve crimes. It's set in present day (which would be the eighties, when it was written) and covers, through the use of extremely well executed flashbacks, the past forty or so years of superhero activity.

That, in and of itself, doesn't sound so amazing, but what's really interesting is how it shows you how egotistical, perverted, or just plain fucking nuts a person has to be to dress up in spandex and try to fight crime; all in a sort of "what if this really happened" kind of way. It covers how everything from McCarthyism to the Cold War effected this sort of activity up and till the eventual federal legislation gets passed in order to ban this type of behavior out of fear for the public's safety.

This is all told in, like I said earlier, an extremely well executed flashback style in which the artist does an amazing job of visually triggering flashbacks, and the subtle use of repeating imagery begins to make the entire back story come together for the reader. I'm really not a comic book guy, but even I have to admit this is done really well.

Of course there's an actual story unfolding during which all of this gets explained, but it's easy to just get lost in the crazy universe the author has created and not pay too much attention to what's going on until the end when the story comes to its climactic resolution.

I'd definitely give it a thumbs up, but I had one issue that was kind of hard to get past: with possible of exception of Rorschach, everyone's costume is extremely dated now. Of course, I could be wrong, the creators may have made them look this way to point out the absurdity of grown men dressing up in costumes, but seeming as this was published around the same time Marvel thought that Wolverine would look really cool in yellow and blue spandex with a mask that sat up 18 inches off his head, I seriously doubt it. Again, I'm no comic encyclopedia, this is just a layman's opinion.

Also, when I ordered it, I went looking around the web for info on it and stumbled into news stories talking about how a movie is currently being cast for it. I got really excited until, after a little more research, I read that various studios have been trying to make a movie out of this since its publication. I've also read that Alan Moore, the author, wants nothing to do with a movie adaptation after seeing what Hollywood did with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of his other creations. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.




Comments

NAME: scott
Thursday, April 14th, 2005 @ 09:38 pm
Damn. That was one of the most interesting things I've ever read.


NAME: scott
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 @ 11:00 pm
He also wasn't too pleased with what was done with "From Hell".

God help me, I'm sending a submission to Gizmodo.


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